"Boyz n the Hood" writer and director John Singleton showed students at the Legends Lecture Series that it is possible to achieve your dreams, even when the world is telling you otherwise.
Singleton was this year's speaker for the Legends Lecture series on Monday held by the Black Cultural Programming Committee.
He was the first African-American and the youngest person to be nominated for an Oscar for best original screenplay and best director.
Singleton, a South Los Angeles native, lived with his mother who struggled to balance work and college while raising Singleton.
As described by Singleton during his lecture, he discovered his passion for filmmaking after viewing multiple films with his friends during his childhood.
"I said to myself, I think I want to be a filmmaker," he said.
This led him to become part of his high school newspaper where he reviewed films. He also began working to produce student films.
Singleton attended Pasadena City College and the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts. During his college years, he met director Spike Lee, finished his screenplay for "Boyz n the Hood" and won the Jack Nicholson Writing Award for said screenplay.
Students, including Courtney Milligan, senior in business administration, praised Singleton for his accomplishments.
"I think that's wonderful, especially him being African-American; it represents us very well," Milligan said. "Him being nominated for an Oscar, I think he's done a profoundly good job at establishing a platform for the rest of us coming up in the near future to follow."
"Boyz n the Hood" was Singleton's first motion picture, but he did not stop there. He soon came out with other notable titles such as "Baby Boy," "Four Brothers" and "2 Fast 2 Furious."
Students in the audience were shocked to hear that Singleton had spent time with many noteworthy celebrities. Tupac, Steven Spielberg and Janet Jackson were just a few of the names Singleton dropped during the lecture. He also mentioned that he dated a model by the name of Tyra Banks.
When asked about today's African-American films versus the films of the 1990s, Singleton stated that he does not think today's films make a good impression, and they are lacking the "heart and soul" of the films of the past.
Singleton's films touch on the lives of minorities living in less than desirable situations. Some of the situations are things that he and his friends witnessed and experienced firsthand in South Central Los Angeles. Since his movies involve many scenes that delve into the hardships dealt with in lives of African-Americans, he tries to connect culturally with the audience.
"I put a lot of work in putting things in that are really culturally specific," Singleton said.
Singleton's accomplishments give students the encouragement to achieve their dreams, regardless of where they came from. At the end of the lecture, Singleton offered students a few pieces of advice.
"Always believe in yourself and be persistent, even when the world is against you," he said. "There will be more people that will be against you than will be for you. You have to be for yourself."