Place of birth: Atlanta, Georgia (USA)
Shelton, better known as Spike Lee, is the first child of the marriage of jazz double bass player Bill Lee and Jaquelyn Shelton, an art and literature teacher. As soon as the little boy was born, his parents moved to Kobble Hill, an area of Brooklyn, New York, which, for the most part, is populated by African American families. That’s where Spike grew up, a nickname his mother gave him; It means “spike”, and he put it in reference to his little physique.
Along with his brothers David and Cinque and his sister Joei, he attended Morehouse College, a private school, where Martin Luther King would have studied.
In 1976 Spike suffered the unexpected death of his mother, which was attributed to a cancer detected already in an advanced state. Bill, his father was always on tour with the great jazz stars, so he was very attached to his mother.
Despite the fact that since his childhood he has wanted to be a baseball player, Lee dedicated himself to studying at the New York Film University, supported by his maternal grandmother, Zimmie, who from the beginning trusted him.
During his career he was a model student, and would graduate as a filmmaker presenting “Joe’s Barbershop in Bed-stuy: Heads Are Cut Off”, a short film that, in 1983, won him the Academy Award for best finisher film. student career.
His works are characterized by raising issues and stories that unleash controversy, for example, the life of the black community in his country, as he addressed in the aforementioned short.
In 1986, he made “Nola Darling”, an independent 16mm film, which attracted worldwide attention upon release. The film achieved a hit with the critics and the public never expected, opening the doors of fame, definitely, thanks to the “Young Filmmakers” award at Cannes that year. The film only cost less than $ 175,000 and filming was completed in just 12 days, grossing $ 10 million.
Three years later, Spike Lee was in charge of revolutionizing the American film scene by launching the film “Do the Right Thing”, which had already had great success and acceptable criticism at the Cannes Film Festival, covered the theme of racial discrimination in New York, from the point of view of a black child, suspected of robbery, who is run over by a police officer.
The idea of recreating the theme of racial discrimination in a film. It arose in 1986, when he saw in the media an event that occurred in the borough of Queens, when a group of white youths attacked three young African-Americans and, unfortunately, one was hit by a car while trying to escape from the young batterers.
“Malcolm X” (1992) is undoubtedly his best work, a three-and-a-half-hour epic film about the figure of the murdered black radical leader.
His great success on the big screen and in his work as a producer of television commercials gave him the opportunity to establish his own production company in Brooklyn, called “Spike’s Joint.” She has done commercials, which he likes to call “thirty-second documentaries,” for Nike, Coca-Cola and Levi’s.
Among other jobs, Spike directed several productions for music videos of great international stars, such as Michael Jackson and Prince.
“Spike’s Joint”, in addition to being its production company, is a store where it is possible to acquire all kinds of merchandising related to its films, and its image.
Beginning in 1998, in response to an invitation from the Department of African-American Studies, he became a professor at New York Film University, where he gives seminars for students on contemporary cinema.
- 25th hour (2003, director and producer)
- The Original Kings of Comedy (2000, director)
- Love and Basketball (2000, producer)
- Bamboozled (2000, director, screenwriter and producer)
- No one is safe from Sam (1999, director and screenwriter)
- Best Friend of the Groom (1999, producer)
- A bad move (1998, director)
- The March of a Million Men (1996, director)
- Clockers (1995, screenwriter and director)
- Crooklyn (1994, actor, screenwriter and director)
- Kidnapping Squad (1994) actor
- Malcolm X (1992, actor, screenwriter and director)
- Wild Fever (1991, actor, screenwriter and director)
- The more the merrier (1990, actor and director)
- Turbulent Classrooms (1988, actor, screenwriter and director)
- Nola Darling (1986, director)