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John Singleton Gives Scathing Criticism of Hollywood: “They Ain’t Letting Black People Tell Their Stories”

John Singleton Gives Scathing Criticism of Hollywood: "They Ain't Letting Black People Tell Their Stories"

Director John Singleton had some pointed words about the studio system during a recent event at Loyola Marymount University. In a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, Singleton spoke about the climate for black filmmakers, his upcoming Tupac Shakur biopic, and also expanded upon the op-ed he wrote late last year discussing the lack of black directors helming black films. 

On studios not advocating strongly for black filmmakers:

ain’t letting the black people tell their stories. And you’re like, oh
ok, we’re going to take your stories but you know what, you’re going to
go starve over here and we’re not going to let you get a job… Because the so-called liberals that are in Hollywood now are not as good as their parents or ancestors. They feel they’re not racist. 
They’re not racist, they grew up with Hip Hop so you can’t be racist.  I
like Jay-Z, but that don’t mean I got to give you a job. You see what
I’m saying?”

On white directors telling black stories: 

“Taylor Hackford did a great job on Ray… You can watch what Brian Helgeland did on 42. But those people also had a respect and they also had people who were
African-American behind the scenes who were allowed to give opinions to
make it special… They did a good job because
they had respect for the thing. They didn’t say I’m going to tell the
story and I’m not going to give nobody black a job. There’s a

On the potential in independent films: 

“Films are being made outside of the certain norm, people are putting
in and financing. That’s a liberating thing. You’re going to get
different types of stories made.  A good example of a person who happens
not to be black, Benh Zeitlin who did Beasts of the Southern Wild, that would never have been made if it hadn’t been made in that model.  That could never have been made in the studio.  12 Years a Slave could never have been made in the studio model… Both of those films were very profitable.”

See video of the conversation below, and find the full transcript HERE.

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I am getting bored watching movies and tv shows in the last few years portraying black men as always the heroes , leaders or men of honor and white men as the bad guy , is this how life is really like in your country America ? surely not and is it taboo to say you don't like black men ? what sort of fake society is yours ?
peter australia


I'm tired of this argument. There is no letting us do anything. We have to do it ourselves. we DON'T need permission from Hollywood. How many black directors, writers, actors, producers and etc and we still looking for hollywood to do it for us. That's a damn shame. Are we so friggin stuck on stupid. China has their own. they say f…hollywood. India did the same. every other ethnicity does the same but blacks in america seem to always be looking for the handout.

You mean to tell me with all of the movies that we ourselves can produce and direct and act in…..we are so incompetent that we need others to do it for us? bull…where's bill cosby now with the speeches about getting it done? OH nothing to be said there. I'm all about solutions. Not excuses. It seems that as american blacks got intergrated they forget the struggle and suffering the elders went through. I could go on and on but why. Malcolm said it right. YOu got to get mad. Get sick of this nonsense and lets do it amongst ourselves


DJ, I agree with you it is not only the studio system that is in the preventing black folks from telling their stories. It is more complex than we think.

vincent cook

John is right! they are not letting Black folks tell they story.

Mark V

I find John's words somewhat odd, coming from the same man who was instrumental in bringing Craig Brewer to prominence.

Karen Marie Mason

Do we really WANT Hollywood to tell OUR stories?

Patch Neck Red

In every generation you need someone to champion your passion I believe Mr.Singleton might be one of those voices. Time will tell carry on Solider!


"They want Black people to be what they want to be." Truth.

Singleton's reference to "they" can easily apply to the indie film gatekeepers. Sundance wants [Asians, Blacks, etc.] to be what they want to be. Because, of course, they "grew up" with Do The Right Thing and Better Luck Tomorrow.


He has some valid points.

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