SPIKE LEE Biography - Theater, Opera and Movie personalities


Biography » theater opera and movie personalities » spike lee


Name: Shelton Jackson Lee                                                             
Born: 20 March 1957 Atlanta, Georgia                                                   
Shelton Jackson Lee (born March 20, 1957, in Atlanta, Georgia), better known           
as Spike Lee, is an Emmy Award - winning, and Academy Award - nominated American       
film director, producer, writer, and actor noted for his films dealing with           
controversial social and political issues. He also teaches film at New York           
University and Columbia University. His production company, 40 Acres & A Mule         
Filmworks, has produced over 35 films since 1983.                                     
Lee was born in Atlanta, Georgia to Bill Lee. Lee moved with his family to             
Brooklyn, New York when he was a small child. The Fort Greene neighborhood is         
home of Lee's production company, 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks, and other Lee-owned     
or related businesses. As a child, his mother nicknamed him "Spike." In Brooklyn,     
he attended John Dewey High School. Lee enrolled in Morehouse College where he         
made his first student film, Last Hustle in Brooklyn. He took film courses at         
Clark Atlanta University and graduated with a B.A. in Mass Communication from         
Morehouse College. He then enrolled in New York University's Tisch School of the       
Arts. He graduated in 1978 with a Master of Fine Arts in Film & Television.           
Lee's thesis film, Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads, was the first             
student film to be showcased in Lincoln Center's New Directors New Films               
In 1985, Lee began work on his first feature film, She's Gotta Have It. With a         
budget of $175,000, the film was shot in two weeks. When the film was released         
in 1986, it grossed over $7,000,000 at the U.S. box office.                           
She's Gotta Have It would also lead Lee down a second career avenue. After             
marketing executives from Nike saw and liked the movie, Lee was offered a job         
directing commercials for Nike. What they had in mind specifically was pairing         
Lee's character from She's Gotta Have It, the Michael Jordan-loving Mars               
Blackmon, with Jordan himself as their marketing campaign for the Air Jordan           
line. Later, Lee would be a central figure in the controversy surrounding the         
inner-city rash of violence involving Air Jordans. Lee countered that instead         
of blaming manufacturers of apparel, "deal with the conditions that make a kid         
put so much importance on a pair of sneakers, a jacket and gold". Lee, through         
the marketing wing of his production company, has also directed commercials for       
Converse, Jaguar, Taco Bell and Ben & Jerry's.                                         
Lee's movies have examined race relations, the role of media in contemporary           
life, urban crime and poverty, and political issues. Many of his films include a       
distinctive use of music.                                                             
Lee's film Do the Right Thing was nominated for an Academy Award for Best             
Original Screenplay in 1989. His documentary 4 Little Girls was nominated for         
the Best Feature Documentary Academy Award in 1997.                                   
On May 2, 2007, the 50th San Francisco International Film Festival honored Spike       
Lee with the San Francisco Film Society's Directing Award. He was most recently       
named the recipient of the next Wexner Prize.