Image of Spike Lee

Spike Lee

1957-03-20 Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Image of Spike Lee


Spike Lee was born Shelton Lee in 1957, in Atlanta, Georgia. At a very young age, he moved from pre-civil rights Georgia, to Brooklyn, New York. Lee came from a proud and intelligent background. His father was a jazz musician, and his mother, a school teacher. His mother dubbed him Spike, due to his tough nature. He attended school in Morehouse College in Atlanta and developed his film making skills at Clark Atlanta University. After graduating, he went to the Tisch School of Arts graduate film program. He made a controversial short, The Answer (1980), a reworking of D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation (1915) -- a ten-minute film. Lee went on to produce a 45-minute film Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads (1983), which won a student academy award. Lee's next film, "The Messenger," in 1984, was somewhat biographical. In 1986, Spike Lee made the film, She's Gotta Have It (1986), a comedy about sexual relationships. The movie was made for 175,000 dollars, and made seven million. Since then, Lee has become a well-known, intelligent, and talented film maker. His next movie was School Daze (1988), which was set in a historically black school and focused mostly on the conflict between the school and the Fraternities, of which he was a strong critic, portraying them as materialistic, irresponsible, and uncaring. Lee went on to do his landmark film, Do the Right Thing (1989), a movie specifically about his own town in Brooklyn, New York. The movie portrayed a neighborhood on a very hot day, and the racial tensions that emerge. The movie garnered an Oscar nomination, for Danny Aiello, for supporting actor. It also sparked a debate on racial relations. Lee went on to produce the jazz biopic Mo' Better Blues (1990) which showed his talent for directing and acting, and was the first of many Spike Lee films to feature Denzel Washington. His next film, Jungle Fever (1991), was about interracial dating. Lee's handling of the subject proved yet again highly controversial. Lee's next film was the self-titled biography of Malcolm X (1992), which had Denzel Washington portraying the civil rights leader. The movie was a success, and resulted in an Oscar nomination for Washington. His next films were the comparatively light, Crooklyn (1994), and the intense crime drama, Clockers (1995). In 1996, Lee directed two movies: the badly received comedy, Girl 6 (1996), and the politically pointed, Get on the Bus (1996), about a group of men going to the Million Man March. His next film, He Got Game (1998), proved to be another excursion into the collegiate world as he shows the darker side of recruiting college athletes. The movie, in limited release, yet again featured Denzel Washington. In 2000 came Bamboozled which made a mockery out of television and the way African-Americans are perceived by white America and the way African-Americans perceive themselves. The movie, however, was a resounding critical success. Lee also has produced films like New Jersey Drive (1995), Tales from the Hood (1995), and Drop Squad (1994). He also has produced and or directed movies about Huey P. Newton, Jim Brown, and has commented in many documentaries about varied subjects. With pointed political messages, insightful, different and intelligent films, Spike Lee has become a well known political presence. He looks likely to have further success in the film business. Lee is an obsessive New York Knicks fan. He and his wife, Tonya Lewis Lee, have two children.


Chadwick Boseman: Portrait of an Artist Self 2021-04-17
A Choice of Weapons: Inspired by Gordon Parks Self 2021-06-18
A Spike Lee Joint Self 2018-11-06
Unbanned: The Legend of AJ1 Himself 2018-04-22
Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists Himself 2018-11-15
Birth of a Movement Self 2017-02-06
The Birdwatcherwatcher Northeastern Spike Lee 2016-05-18
Champs Himself 2015-03-13
French Cinema Mon Amour Self 2015-07-06
Ray Allen/AKA- Jesus Shuttlesworth 2015-02-06
Director Spike Lee's New York City Himself 2015-04-10
We the People: From Crispus Attucks to President Barack Obama 2014-02-11
Life's Essentials with Ruby Dee Self 2014-06-22
Bad 25 Self 2012-11-22
Brooklyn Boheme Himself 2012-02-27
Red Hook Summer Mr. Mookie 2012-08-10
On the Shoulders of Giants 2011-02-11
Guest Himself 2011-03-25
A Man's Story Self 2011-10-08
Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks Himself 2010-03-14
Kobe Doin' Work himself 2009-05-16
Do the Right Thing: 20 Years Later 2009-06-30
PoliWood Self 2009-07-03
Beyond Wiseguys: Italian Americans & the Movies 2008-01-20
Pixote In Memoriam 2007-10-30
Lights, Action, Music 2007-08-06
By Any Means Necessary: The Making of Malcolm X Himself 2005-02-08
Life O The Party: On the Road with Prince and the New Power Generation Himself 2005-06-07
How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It) 2005-01-01
Through the Fire 2005-01-01
Street Fight Self 2005-01-01
No Fighting in the War Room Or: Dr Strangelove and the Nuclear Threat Himself 2004-10-28
Five Directors on THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS Himself 2004-01-01
Best Sellers: Peter Sellers and Dr. Strangelove Interviewee 2004-10-28
It's Black Entertainment Self 2002-02-08
The Making and Meaning of 'We Are Family' Self 2002-01-09
The Making of Bamboozled 2001-04-17
3 A.M. Filmmaker 2001-07-01
Michael Jordan to the Max Himself 2000-05-05
Lisa Picard Is Famous Spike Lee 2000-05-14
Summer of Sam John Jeffries 1999-07-02
4 Little Girls Interviewer (voice) (uncredited) 1997-07-09
The Fine Art of Separating People from Their Money Himself 1996-11-17
Girl 6 Jimmy 1996-03-22
When We Were Kings Himself 1996-10-25
The Universal Story Self (archive footage) 1996-04-21
Clockers Chucky 1995-09-15
NBA Below the Rim 1995-01-01
A Century of Cinema 1994-01-01
Hoop Dreams Himself 1994-09-12
Crooklyn Snuffy 1994-05-13
Adieu, Babylone! self 1993-08-28
Seven Songs for Malcolm X 1993-10-01
The Last Party Self 1993-08-27
Malcolm X Shorty 1992-11-18
Our Hollywood Education 1992-05-28
Jungle Fever Cyrus 1991-06-07
Branford Marsalis: Steep 1991-01-04
Spike Lee & Company: Do It a Cappella Self 1990-01-01
Lonely in America Himself 1990-09-30
Mo' Better Blues Giant 1990-08-03
Decade Himself 1989-12-09
Public Enemy: Fight the Power... Live! 1989-01-01
First Works 1989-10-10
Do the Right Thing Mookie 1989-06-14
Making 'Do the Right Thing' Himself 1989-11-03
School Daze Darrell 'Half-Pint' Dunlap 1988-02-12
She's Gotta Have It Mars Blackmon 1986-08-08