Spike Lee Celebrity Watchlist

Fast Facts

  • His 10-minute student movie for grad school was called The Answer, about a black screenwriter hired to pen a remake of Birth of a Nation.
  • Has directed numerous TV commercials for companies such as Nike, AT&T and Levi's, and music videos for Public Enemy, Michael Jackson and Anita Baker.
  • Due to the mounting production cost of his 1992 biopic Malcolm X, solicited financial assistance from Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan and others so that the film could be completed.
  • Numerous honors include Sports Emmys for programs that aired on HBO—one on Mike Tyson, the other on former Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson.
  • First movie to reach No. 1 at the box office was He Got Game (1998).
  • Won the 2006 George Polk Award for documentary journalism for his HBO series When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts; a follow-up film, If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise, was released in 2010. 
  • Has published several books on filming techniques.
  • Most of his movies are referred to in the credits as "A Spike Lee Joint."


  • 2001, Independent Spirit Awards — Best First Feature: Nominee
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  • 1990, Golden Globe — Best Screenplay - Motion Picture: Nominee
  • 1997, Berlin Film Festival — Special Mention: Winner
  • 1998, Emmy — Outstanding Non-Fiction Special: Nominee
  • 1990, Golden Globe — Best Director - Motion Picture: Nominee
  • 1997, Oscar — Best Documentary (Feature): Nominee
  • 2002, BAFTA Film Awards — Special Award (Film): Winner
  • 1989, Oscar — Best Writing (Original Screenplay): Nominee
  • 1987, Independent Spirit Awards — Best First Feature: Winner
  • 2007, Emmy — Exceptional Merit in Nonfiction Filmmaking: Winner
  • 2007, Emmy — Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming: Winner
  • 2015, Oscar — Honorary Award: Winner


  • Jacquelyn Shelton Lee — Mother
  • Chris Lee — Brother
  • William James Edwards Lee III — Father
  • Cinque Lee — Brother
  • Jackson Lewis Lee — Son
  • Joie Lee — Sister
  • Malcolm D. Lee — Cousin
  • Arnold Lee — Half Brother
  • David Lee — Brother
  • Satchel Lee — Daughter
  • Susan Kaplan — Stepmother
  • Tonya Lewis Lee — Wife


  • Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia, United States (BA in Communications, 1979); New York University, New York, New York, United States (MFA in Filmmaking, 1982)

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  • Birth Name: Shelton Jackson Lee
  • Birth Place: Atlanta, Georgia, United States
  • Profession: Director, Producer, Screenwriter, Actor

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