Spike Lee is a notable Writer, Director, Producer, Actor, and Author who revolutionized both the landscape of independent cinema and the role of black talent in film. Widely regarded as a premiere African-American filmmaker, Lee is a forerunner in the ‘do it yourself’ school of filmmaking.
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 and critically acclaimed “School Daze,” helped 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 and Director awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Lee’s “Jungle Fever,” “Mo’ Better Blues,” “Clockers,” and “Crooklyn” were also well received by critics and fans alike. His epic drama “Malcolm X,” starring Denzel Washington, received two Academy Award nominations.
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.
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 entitled “Two Michaels,” which also features Michael Jordan. Lee is also well known for his Levi’s Button-Fly 501, AT&T, and ESPN television commercials. His 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.
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.