Academy Award-nominated director John Singleton has died after being taken off life support following complications from a stroke he suffered a few weeks ago. He died peacefully surrounded by friends and family, he was 51.

Singleton was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1968. He was raised in the notoriously violent neighborhood of South Central L.A., and studied screenwriting at the University of Southern California.

His 1991 debut film, Boyz n the Hood, displayed the social problems of the inner-city through the lives of three friends growing up in the hood and their vastly different circumstances. The film starred Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Morris Chestnut and Laurence Fishburne.

The film was a massive success, and at the age of 24, Singleton become the first African American and the youngest person nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director.

His follow-up film Poetic Justice is a cult classic, and films like Higher Learning and Rosewood explored similar themes of racism. His recent work included directing episodes of Empire and his FX crime-drama Snowfall.

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Throughout his career, Singleton was outspoken about the difficulties black filmmakers face in getting their stories told.

“It’s still very hard to get a film or a TV show on the air,” he told the Daily Beast. “It’s very, very difficult to get any type of pure vision out anywhere. But we’re trying. We’re still trying.”

When news of Singleton’s death broke out Jordan Peele tweeted, “RIP John Singleton. So sad to hear. John was a brave artist and a true inspiration. His vision changed everything.”