May 2001
John Singleton and USC Honor their Own

John Singleton and USC Honor their Own

Critically-acclaimed filmmaker John Singleton, writer/director/producer of the much anticipatedFilmmaker John Singleton addresses fellow USC alumni and guests summer film, “Baby Boy”, took time from his demanding soundtrack production schedule to toast student scholars and awardees as Honorary Chairman of the 23rd Annual USC Black Alumni Association (BAA) Scholarship Gala 2001.    A 1990 USC film school graduate whose credits include “Boyz N the Hood”, “Rosewood”, and last summer’s box office hit “Shaft”, Singleton paid tribute to those who have invested in the future of African-Americans attending USC.  Consistent with the BAA mission to create a million dollar scholarship endowment, money raised from the gala will be used to fund 52 scholarships to support the financial needs of Black students enrolled in the Los Angeles-based university.

Husband and wife team Rodney and Holly Robinson Peete, Co-Founders of the HollyRod FoundationThe first African-American to be nominated for a Best Director Academy Award, Singleton received a BAA scholarship as a USC School of Cinema-TV junior and became a 1992 award recipient following his 1991 directorial debut.  Now ten years later, the 33 year-old Singleton returns to his South Central L.A. neighborhood for the hard-hitting story of “Baby Boy”, a film chronicling the trials and tribulations of a misguided 20-year old African-American man facing the commitments of real life.  Inspired by Marvin Gaye’s groundbreaking album What’s Goin’ On,  “Baby Boy” is scheduled to be in theatres Friday, June 29.   For more information about John Singleton and the making of his third installment of “The Hood” trilogy, revisit for an in-depth interview and film critique following the June 29 release.

Appropriately themed “Trojans of Ebony Hue: Role Models For All Generations”, the 2001 USC BAA Alumni Awards and Scholarship Benefit featured Hollywood’s finest.  Master of Ceremonies for the evening was the debonair William Allen Young, USC alumnus and co-star of the hit comedy series “Moesha”.  Young recently wrapped his sixth season portraying Moesha’s wise but protective father “Frank Mitchell”, and he is currently exploring directorial projects and a reoccurring role on Lifetime’s “Any Day Now” opposite Lorraine Toussaint.  Other gala presenters included USC Alumnus Sara V. Finney, Co-Creator and Executive Producer of UPN’s “Moesha” & “The Parkers”, as well as theMoesha's co-star William Allen Young and Executive Producer Sara V. Finney talented actress A.J. Johnson.  A.J. will star opposite R&B singer Tyrese and Ving Rhames in Singleton’s drama “Baby Boy”.

The beautiful veteran TV star Holly Robinson Peete, who recently finished taping the season finale of “For Your Love”, presented an award to her husband and Oakland Raiders quarterback Rodney Peete.  A 1989 USC alumnus, Peete was saluted by the BAA for his successful athletic and philanthropic endeavors.   Rodney and Holly co-founded the HollyRod Foundation to provide funds and services to financially challenged individuals suffering from Parkinson’s disease, breast and ovarian cancer.   Rodney Peete joins an elite group of past USC alumni honorees who include actor LeVar Burton and actor-director Forest Whitaker. Holly Robinson Peete shared that she was looking forward to spending more time with her 3 year-old twins this summer, and is contemplating writing a book about life as a “football wife”.

Highlighting the star-studded April evening filled with joy and vitality, Jazz/R&B recording artist Miki Howard serenaded Singleton and the 600 scholars, honorees and guests with her soulful renditions of “Love Under New Management” and “Good Morning Heartache”. As a pivotal stakeholder in the Los Angeles community for the past 25 years, the USC Black Alumni Association continues to provide aQuarterback Rodney Peete, actress A.J. Johnson, director John Singleton, and actor William Allen Young platform to bring the university’s African-American students, graduates, faculty and staff together to honor the legacy of the Trojan Family.

Roslyn J. Bradford is a freelance writer and Assistant Director of the USC MBA Career Resource Center.  An aspiring screenwriter, she is a graduate student in USC’s Master of Professional Writing Program, majoring in Drama-Cinema/TV.

Photos courtesy of Maury Phillips & Leroy Hamilton