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This Day In History: March 20th
Director and producer are just two of the many titles that Spike Lee has held over the course of his film career, which has spanned more than three decades. Spike Lee is behind famed films that have grossed over $600 million in box office sales and he is known for works such as Do The Right Thing (1989), Malcolm X (1992) and BlacKkKlansman (2018). Here are five things to know about Spike Lee!
- The Early Life Of Spike Lee. Shelton Jackson Lee was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 20, 1957. His family relocated to Brooklyn, New York, while he was a child and the neighborhood he grew up in has served as an inspiration behind some of his films. After graduating from high school, Lee decided to further his education and attend Morehouse College.
- Rise In The Film Industry. By the age of 20, Spike Lee was starting his career as an amateur filmmaker. While attending Morehouse College, Lee made his first student film titled Last Hustle in Brooklyn and he completed his graduate film thesis, Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads, at New York University Film School in 1982. The project earned him a Student Academy Award. Just four years out of graduate school, Lee made his feature film debut with She’s Gotta Have It (1986). The film was completed in two weeks on a budget of $175,000 and it grossed more than $7 million at the box office. His next big success was the film Do The Right Thing (1989), which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Throughout the 90s, Lee put out Mo’ Better Blues (1990), 4 Little Girls (1997), He Got Game (1997) and Summer of Sam (1999). Spike Lee’s more recent works include Inside Man (2006), Chi-Raq (2015) and Da 5 Bloods (2020).
- Work In Front Of The Camera. Although Spike Lee became known for his directorial skills, he was not afraid to get in front of the camera and make appearances in films. He played the character Mars Blackmon in his first feature film, She’s Gotta Have It (1986). Spike Lee has also appeared in other productions, including School Daze (1988), Jungle Fever (1991) and Crooklyn (1994).
- 40 Acres And A Mule Filmworks. Spike Lee decided to turn his passion for directing into a profitable business. He founded 40 Acres And A Mule Filmworks in 1979 and takes its name from a Reconstruction-era policy that provided Georgia’s free black residents 40 acres of land and access to surplus army mules. The company is headquartered in Brooklyn, New York and provides services for movies, television series, documentaries, commercials and music videos.
- Awards And Accolades. With a catalog consisting of more than 30 films, Spike Lee managed to develop a reputation for being a respected creative. Lee has won a variety of awards, including two Emmys, an MTV Movie + TV award, an NAACP Image and a Hall of Fame award. In 2020, it was announced that Spike Lee would be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was also the recipient of an honorary Academy Award in 2015 and a lifetime achievement award from the Director’s Guild in 2022.