Filmmaker and Media Icon; Transformed the Independent Film Genre
As a writer-director, actor, producer, author and philanthropist, Spike Lee has revolutionized the role of black talent in cinema. Widely regarded as today’s premier African American filmmaker Lee is a forerunner in the do-it-yourself school of independent film. Lee's films, "Girl 6," "Get on The Bus," "Do The Right Thing" and "Clockers" display his ability to showcase a series of outspoken and provocative socio-political critiques that challenge cultural assumptions not only about race but also class and gender identity.
His debut film, the independently produced comedy, "She’s Gotta Have It," earned him the Prix de Jeunesse Award at the Cannes Film festival in 1986 and set him at the forefront of the Black New Wave in American Cinema. His second feature, the very profitable "School Daze" helped to launch the careers of several young Black actors. Lee's timely 1989 film, "Do The Right Thing," garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay and Best Film & Director awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Lee’s "Jungle Fever," "Mo’ Better Blues," "Clockers," and "Crooklyn,' were also critically well received.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, and raised in Brooklyn, Lee returned south to attend Morehouse College. After graduation, he returned to Brooklyn to continue his education at New York University’s Tisch School of Arts in Manhattan where he received his Master of Fine Arts Degree in film production. He founded 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks based in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn, where he has resided since childhood.
In addition to his achievements in feature films, Lee has produced and directed numerous music videos for diverse artists including Miles Davis, Chaka Khan, Tracy Chapman, Anita Baker, Public Enemy, Bruce Hornsby, and Michael Jackson. His other music videos include work for the late Phyliss Hyman, Naughty by Nature, and Arrested Development.
Lee’s commercial work began in 1988 with his Nike Air Jordan campaign. Collaborating with basketball great Michael Jordan on several commercials, Lee resurrected his popular character, Mars Blackmon from She’s Gotta Have It. He has also completed a PSA for UNCF which also features Michael Jordan called "Two Michaels." Lee is also well known for his Levi’s Button-Fly 501, AT&T, and ESPN television commercials. Other commercial ventures include TV spots for Philips, Nike, American Express, Snapple, and Taco Bell. Lee has also directed several Art Spot Shorts for MTV and a short film featuring Branford Marsalis and Diahnne Abbott for "Saturday Night Live." Lee is also involved in documentaries and sports programs. He completed the Emmy and Oscar nominated documentary, "4 Little Girls," for HBO and received an Emmy Award for his piece on Georgetown’s John Thompson for HBO/Real Sports. Additionally, Lee has authored six books on the making of his films. The fifth book, "Five For Five," served as a pictorial reflection of his first five features. Mr. Lee than followed up with authoring a book entitled "Best Seat in the House" with Ralph Wiley. He also has co-authored a children’s book entitled "Please Baby Please" with his wife Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee
Ever moving into new areas, Spike Lee has combined his extensive creative experience into yet another venture: partnering with DDB Needham, he created Spike/DDB, a full service-advertising agency.
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