Spike Lee

Director, Screenwriter, Producer
Perhaps one of the most controversial filmmakers to emerge during the explosion of independent directors in the 1980s, Spike Lee single-handedly changed the way African-Americans were perceived in Hollywood films ... Read more »
Born: 03/20/1957 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Filmography

Actor (84)

Champs 2015 (Movie)

(Himself)

The Daily Show 2015 (Tv Show)

Guest

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert 2015 (Tv Show)

Guest

2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony 2012 - 2013 (TV Show)

Presenter

BET Honors 2012 2011 - 2012 (TV Show)

Actor

On The Shoulders of Giants 2011 - 2012 (TV Show)

Actor

Red Hook Summer 2012 (Movie)

Mr. Mookie (Actor)

Who Do You Think You Are? 2010 (Tv Show)

Actor

40X15: Forty Years of the Directors' Fortnight 2007 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Movies That Shook the World 2005 - 2006 (TV Show)

Actor

Real Time with Bill Maher 2003 - 2006 (Tv Show)

Actor

That's What I'm Talking About 2005 - 2006 (TV Show)

Actor

VH1 Hip Hop Honors 2005 - 2006 (TV Show)

Actor

Film School 2004 - 2005 (Tv Show)

Actor

On the Record With Bob Costas 2003 - 2005 (Tv Show)

Actor

The Directors 1998 - 2005 (TV Show)

Actor

Reflections From Ground Zero 2002 - 2003 (TV Show)

Host

The 34th NAACP Image Awards 2002 - 2003 (TV Show)

Actor

The Chris Rock Show 1996 - 2002 (TV Show)

Actor

3 AM 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

The 10th Annual IFP Gotham Awards 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Performer

Canned Ham: The Original Kings of Comedy 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

The 2000 Essence Awards 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Presenter

The 2000 Trumpet Awards 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Presenter

Delroy Lindo on Spike Lee 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

Movies in Time Special: Summer of Sam 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

Summer of Sam 1999 (Movie)

John Jeffries (Actor)

ABC in Concert 1990 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

Music in Movies '96 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel (09/10/96) 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

The 10th Essence Awards 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Performer

Girl 6 1996 (Movie)

Jimmy (Actor)

When We Were Kings 1996 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Clockers 1995 (Movie)

Chucky (Actor)

Hollywood Stars: A Century of Cinema 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

Crooklyn 1994 (Movie)

Snuffy (Actor)

Hoop Dreams 1994 (Movie)

Himself--Film Director (Actor)

The D.R.O.P. Squad 1994 (Movie)

(uncredited cameo appearance) "Gospel Pak" commercial (Actor)

The Essence Awards 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Performer

The Faltering Dream 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

Dialogue With Black Filmmakers 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

Rock the Vote 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

The Great Ones: The National Sports Awards 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Performer

The Last Party 1993 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

A Comedy Salute to Michael Jordan 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Comic Relief V 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Entertainers '91: The Top 20 of the Year 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

MTV's 10th Anniversary Special 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Malcolm X 1992 (Movie)

Shorty (Actor)

Seven Songs for Malcolm X 1992 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The 64th Annual Academy Awards 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Presenter

The Labor Day Show 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

World Beat 1992 (Movie)

(Actor)

In Search of the Dream 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

Jungle Fever 1991 (Movie)

Cyrus (Actor)

Lonely in America 1991 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Racism: Points of View 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

Spike & Co: Do It A Cappella 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

Decade 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

Mo' Better Blues 1990 (Movie)

Giant (Actor)

The 22nd Annual NAACP Image Awards 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Performer

The New Hollywood 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

The R.A.C.E. 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

Do the Right Thing 1989 (Movie)

Mookie (Actor)

Firstworks 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

Making "Do the Right Thing" 1989 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The Debbie Allen Special 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

School Daze 1988 (Movie)

Half-Pint (Actor)

The 20th Annual NAACP Image Awards 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Performer

She's Gotta Have It 1986 (Movie)

Mars Blackmon (Actor)

Brooklyn Boheme (TV Show)

Actor

Edge of Outside (TV Show)

Actor

Farewell Babylon (TV Show)

Actor

It's Black Entertainment (TV Show)

Actor

New York at the Movies (TV Show)

Actor

Poliwood (TV Show)

Actor
Director (47)

Chi-raq 2015 (Movie)

(Director)

Da Sweet Blood of Jesus 2015 (Movie)

(Director)

Jerrod Carmichael: Love At The Store 2014 - 2015 (TV Show)

Director

Katt Williams: Priceless: Afterlife 2014 - 2015 (TV Show)

Director

Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth 2013 - 2014 (TV Show)

Director

Oldboy 2013 (Movie)

(Director)

Red Hook Summer 2012 (Movie)

(Director)

Bad 25 2011 (Movie)

(Director)

If God is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise 2009 - 2010 (TV Show)

Director

Passing Strange 2009 (Movie)

(Director)

Miracle at St. Anna 2008 (Movie)

(Director)

Inside Man 2006 (Movie)

(Director)

Sucker Free City 2004 - 2005 (TV Show)

Director

She Hate Me 2004 (Movie)

(Director)

25th Hour 2002 (Movie)

(Director)

Jim Brown: All American 2002 (Movie)

(Director)

The Concert For New York City 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Segment Director

A Huey P. Newton Story 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Director

We Wuz Robbed 2001 (Movie)

(Director)

Bamboozled 2000 (Movie)

(Director)

Pavarotti & Friends 99 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Director

The Original Kings of Comedy 2000 (Movie)

(Director)

John Leguizamo: Freak 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Director

Pavarotti and Friends 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Director

Summer of Sam 1999 (Movie)

(Director)

He Got Game 1998 (Movie)

(Director)

4 Little Girls 1997 (Movie)

(Director)

Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel (03/10/97) 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Segment Director

Get on the Bus 1996 (Movie)

(Director)

Girl 6 1996 (Movie)

(Director)

Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel (12/26/95) 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Segment Director

Clockers 1995 (Movie)

(Director)

Lumiere Et Compagnie 1995 (Movie)

featured director (Director)

Crooklyn 1994 (Movie)

(Director)

Malcolm X 1992 (Movie)

(Director)

Jungle Fever 1991 (Movie)

(Director)

Mo' Better Blues 1990 (Movie)

(Director)

Do the Right Thing 1989 (Movie)

(Director)

Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads 1989 (Movie)

(Director)

School Daze 1988 (Movie)

(Director)

She's Gotta Have It 1986 (Movie)

(Director)

The Answer 1979 (Movie)

(Director)

Inside Man 2 (Movie)

(Director)

Kobe Doin' Work (TV Show)

Director

Time Traveler (Movie)

(Director)
Producer (41)

Touched With Fire 2016 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Chi-raq 2015 (Movie)

(Producer)

Da Sweet Blood of Jesus 2015 (Movie)

(Producer)

Manos Sucias 2015 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

The Girl Is In Trouble 2015 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Evolution of a Criminal 2014 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Red Hook Summer 2012 (Movie)

(Producer)

Bad 25 2011 (Movie)

(Producer)

Pariah 2011 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Dream Street 2010 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Saint John of Las Vegas 2010 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Passing Strange 2009 (Movie)

(Producer)

Miracle at St. Anna 2008 (Movie)

(Producer)

She Hate Me 2004 (Movie)

(Producer)

25th Hour 2002 (Movie)

(Producer)

Jim Brown: All American 2002 (Movie)

(Producer)

Bamboozled 2000 (Movie)

(Producer)

Love & Basketball 2000 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Original Kings of Comedy 2000 (Movie)

(Producer)

Summer of Sam 1999 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Best Man 1999 (Movie)

(Producer)

He Got Game 1998 (Movie)

(Producer)

4 Little Girls 1997 (Movie)

(Producer)

Get on the Bus 1996 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Get on the Bus 1996 (Movie)

funding (Producer)

Girl 6 1996 (Movie)

(Producer)

Clockers 1995 (Movie)

(Producer)

New Jersey Drive 1995 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Tales From the Hood 1995 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Crooklyn 1994 (Movie)

(Producer)

The D.R.O.P. Squad 1994 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Malcolm X 1992 (Movie)

(Producer)

Coca-Cola Pop Music "Backstage Pass to Summer" 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Segment Producer

Jungle Fever 1991 (Movie)

(Producer)

Mo' Better Blues 1990 (Movie)

(Producer)

Do the Right Thing 1989 (Movie)

(Producer)

Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads 1989 (Movie)

(Producer)

School Daze 1988 (Movie)

(Producer)

Good Fences (TV Show)

Executive Producer

Inside Man 2 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)
Writer (17)

Chi-raq 2015 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Da Sweet Blood of Jesus 2015 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Red Hook Summer 2012 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

She Hate Me 2004 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Bamboozled 2000 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Summer of Sam 1999 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

He Got Game 1998 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Clockers 1995 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Crooklyn 1994 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Malcolm X 1992 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Jungle Fever 1991 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Mo' Better Blues 1990 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Do the Right Thing 1989 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads 1989 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

School Daze 1988 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

She's Gotta Have It 1986 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Answer 1979 (Movie)

(Screenplay)
Editor (2)

She's Gotta Have It 1986 (Movie)

(Editor)
Music (2)

Mo' Better Blues 1990 (Movie)

("Pop Top 40") (Song)

Do the Right Thing 1989 (Movie)

("Don't Shoot Me") (Song)

Biography

Perhaps one of the most controversial filmmakers to emerge during the explosion of independent directors in the 1980s, Spike Lee single-handedly changed the way African-Americans were perceived in Hollywood films. Starting with "She's Gotta Have It" (1986), a stylish, ultra-low budget comedy that became an unexpected commercial success and planted him firmly on the map. Right out of the gate, Lee directed a series of films that dealt with the uneasy topic of race in his often brash, unapologetic style. His most widely known production, "Do the Right Thing" (1989), proclaimed with no uncertainty that dealing with racism on film could be both challenging and entertaining. Not satisfied with staying behind the camera, Lee stood front and center in a series of Nike and Levis commercials in the 1980s and 1990s, which featured the bicycle messenger character he played in "She's Gotta Have It." But like any filmmaker, Lee had his share of mediocre films - namely "'Mo Better Blues" (1990), "Girl 6" (1996) and "She Hate Me" (2004) - though the triumphs of "Malcolm X" (1992), "He Got Game" (1998), "25th Hour" (2002) and the mainstream crime thriller "Inside Man" (2006) more than made up for his missteps. Most surprisingly, the extremely outspoken and politically active Lee made his greatest contributions to cinema with two unflinching, but straightforward documentaries, "4 Little Girls" (1997) and "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts" (2006), both of which earned him considerable acclaim and several awards, confirming that Lee was no ordinary filmmaker content simply playing by the rules. And, as he would famously speak his mind on more than several occasions, he was not content to sit by and say nothing if he witnessed racial injustice, both in his chosen field as well as in the world at large.

Relationships

Halle Berry Actor

Companion
Lee directed Berry in "Jungle Fever" (1991) Briefly dated No longer together

Jacquelyn Lee

Mother
Taught art and black literature at St. Anne's, a private school in Brooklyn Died in 1977

Joie Lee Actor

Sister
Born June 22, 1962 Appeared in brother's "She's Gotta Have It" (1986), "School Daze" (1988), "Do the Right Thing" (1989) and "Mo' Better Blues" (1990)

Tonya Lewis Lee Executive Producer

Wife
Married Oct. 2, 1993

Bill Lee Music

Father
Born July 23, 1928; former accompanist to folksinger Leon Bibb in the 1960s; scored his son Spike's early films; remarried to Susan Kaplan after Jacquelyn Lee's death; was arrested for possession of heroin in 1991 Nickname 'Bleek' was used as main character's name in "Mo' Better Blues" (1990)

Satchel Lee

Daughter
Born Dec. 2, 1994; mother, Tonya Linette Lewis

Jackson Lee

Son
Born May 23, 1997; Tonya Linette Lewis

Malcolm D. Lee Director

Cousin

Chris Lee

Brother
Born c. 1958 Was in charge of merchandising movie memorabilia at Spike's Joint, his brother's store in Brooklyn

Cinque Lee Actor

Brother
Born in July 1966 Acted in brother's "School Daze" (1988) Filmed documentary on the making of Spike's "Do the Right Thing" (1989)

Arnold Lee

Half-Brother
Born c. 1985 to Bill Lee and Susan Kaplan

David C Lee Photography

Brother
Born Feb. 16, 1961; served as still photographer on "She's Gotta Have It" (1986), "School Daze" (1988), "Do the Right Thing" (1989) and "Mo' Better Blues" (1990)

EDUCATION

New York University

New York , New York 1978
Enrolled in NYU's Tisch School of the Arts; first worked with cinematographer Ernest Dickerson

John Dewey High School

Brooklyn , New York 1975

Morehouse College

Atlanta , Georgia
Met future collaborator Monty Ross; made first student film, "Last Hustle in Brooklyn"

Milestones

2013

Adapted the Korean cult hit "Oldboy," with Josh Brolin in the lead

2012

Helmed the feature film "Red Hook Summer"

2011

Executive produced the critically acclaimed independent feature "Pariah," directed by Dee Rees and starring Adepero Oduye

2010

Directed "If God Is Willing and da Creek Don't Rise" for HBO

2009

Helmed the ESPN sport documentary "Kobe Doin' Work"

2009

Directed "Passing Strange," a theatrical stage production of the original Broadway musical for "Great Performances" (PBS)

2008

Directed the WWII drama "Miracle at St. Anna," starring Derek Luke and Michael Ealy

2006

Helmed the Hurricane Katrina documentary "When the Levees Broke" for HBO; earned an Emmy nomination for Producing

2006

Re-teamed with Denzel Washington to direct the hostage drama "Inside Man"

2002

Directed the crime drama "The 25th Hour"

2002

Directed the documentary "Jim Brown: All American"; produced under the auspices of HBO sports (released theatrically in March)

2000

Helmed the stand-up comedy feature "The Original Kings of Comedy" with Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, and Bernie Mac

2000

Again courted controversy with "Bamboozled," about a TV executive who creates a modern-day minstrel show that becomes a surprise hit TV series

1999

Helmed the controversial "Summer of Sam"

1998

First No. 1 hit with "He Got Game," starring Denzel Washington

1997

Produced and directed the documentary "4 Little Girls"; earned Academy Award nomination

1997

Signed three-year, first-look production deal with Columbia Pictures

1996

Filmed "Get on the Bus," about a group of African-American men taking a cross-country bus trip in order to participate in the Million Man March; released on the one year anniversary of the March

1992

Directed Denzel Washington as the controversial and influential Black Nationalist leader in "Malcolm X"

1992

Formed record label, Forty Acres and a Mule Music Works, a division of Sony; first artists signed: State of Arts, Youssou N'Dour and Lonette McKee

1991

Produced first off-Broadway play, "Folks Remembers a Missing Page"

1989

Helmed the controversial drama "Do the Right Thing"; earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay

1987

First book published She's Gotta Have It: Inside Guerilla Filmmaking

1986

First feature film (directed, wrote, produced and starred), "She's Gotta Have It" (made for approximately $175,000 and shot in 12 days)

1980

Debuted thesis film "Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads" at Lincoln Center's New Directors New Films Festival; the first student film to be showcased in the festival

Enrolled in New York University's Tisch School of the Arts

Founded the production company 40 Acres and A Mule Filmworks

Bonus Trivia

.

Lee produced and directed music videos for Public Enemy, Miles Davis, Anita Baker, E.U., Tracy Chapman, Branford Marsalis, Steel Pulse and Phyllis Hyman.

.

He was named honorary co-chairman with New York Gov. Mario Cuomo of a plan to preserve the "Negro Burial Ground," a site utilized between 1710 and 1790 (16th Century) in downtown New York City.

.

In 1991, Lee was sued by Curtis Brown for money Brown alleged that Lee owed him from when the two men were partners in a production company called Fresh Films, Inc. (in 1984) and Lee was directing and Brown was executive producer of an unfinished film, "The Messenger."

.

Lee was interviewed by Anna Deavere Smith as part of "The Filmmaker Series" in Premiere (October, 1995) magazine.SMITH: Do you think it's important that a black man seem fierce? What if your whole persona was completely different, like "Oh, sweet Spike" - would you still get power?LEE: Well, I mean, there's two ways to get power. You can ha-ha and chee-chee and roll your eyes and do the bug dance. Or you can say, "Look, I'm not doing that shit." White America, they just want black men to always be smiling. So if you don't do that all the time, then they label you the Angry Black Man. As if we had nothing to be angry about, anyway! I mean, a lot of people's attitude is "Look, you're successful, you have money - what do you have to be angry about?"SMITH: And your answer is?LEE: "I was one of the lucky ones."

.

Lee received an honorary degree from Emerson College in 1997.

.

Lee established two annual $5000 grants for second or third year black students at NYU's film school.

.

A number of actors appeared in multiple Spike Lee productions. Joie Lee (Spike's sister) and John Turturro lead the list, each having appeared in nine of his films.

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