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Spike Lee Warns Hollywood ‘You Better Get Smart’ in Honorary Oscar Speech

 Spike Lee was awarded an honorary Oscar on Saturday night at the 7th Annual Academy Governor Awards.  Decked in a Chi-raq embedded hat, a Jesus piece, purple collared shirt and special edition Oscar gold Air Jordan’s, Lee looked like the high priest of cinema.  Introduced by Samuel L. Jackson, Denzel Washington and Wesley Snipes, the three actors riffed on working with Lee.  Snipes even mentioned they were once denied entry at an Academy Award Governor’s Ball many years ago.  Through all the jokes, Washington managed to make a profound statement.

“Spike Lee has put more African-Americans to work in this business than anyone else in the history of the business,” he said.

The three flanked Lee like deacons as he delivered his sermon to the congregation of Hollywood A-listers and executives.  Throughout his hortatory speech, Lee elaborated on how film found him and gave him purpose.  After being admitted into New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, he met future Black film and television director Ernest Dickerson.  Lee tributes their success to a common truth their parents embedded into them.

“We had to be 10 times better than our white classmates,” he said. “Being the same wasn’t going to be good enough.”

Always a rebel with a cause, Lee used his coronation to express his frustration with Hollywood studio’s lack of true progress on diversity in the workplace.

“The United States census bureau says by the year 2043, white Americans are going to be the minority in this country.  And all you people out there in the position of hiring, you better get smart because you’ll work for us.  Reflect what this country looks like,” he said.

He gave much due credit to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs.  At the beginning of the ceremony Ms. Boone Isaacs announced a new initiative called A2020, a program that will spearhead more diverse hiring in Hollywood studios over the next five years.  Toward the end of his speech, Lee administered  a wake up call to those in the room.

“Everybody here probably voted for Obama,” he said. “But when I go to offices, I see no black folks, except for the brother man who is the security guard who checks my name as I go into the studio.”

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One thought on “Spike Lee Warns Hollywood ‘You Better Get Smart’ in Honorary Oscar Speech

  1. Ali McBride says:

    I love Spike Lee, always have, even when others didn't or felt some kind of way about something he said or a lackluster film or two, my love for him never wavered. My problem with this, if it can be considred a problem, is that we need to not seek validation in Hollywood and begin to hustle up that money for ourselves to produce these movies.

    There has been something going on for the last few years when it comes to movies with African-Americans in them, they have been doubling and tripling their profit. The Best Man Holiday, Why Did I Get Married and a few other films. These films cost the minimum to make and they brought in the bucks for movie houses in Hollywood. Why not realize the value in your talent and trust your constituients to support you when you make a quality and in some cases, a half decent movie.

    Despite what folk may think about Tyler Perry (I'm really not a fan) he is doing something that needs to be looked at. He is selling movie tickets. Why not study his forumula, write a decent script and do the same? Granted, there has been some great movies that have not gotten the recognition they deserved, but that happens with mainstream movies as well but marketing obviously is the key.

    Pati LaBelle is selling sweet potato pies and one of the reasons she is doing so well (around the holiday season too!) is an unknown happy youtube sensation with a voice like a bird for the ages. This may not necessarily be the same lane but we all can agree its all about marketing. We also need to collaborate with Nollywood and practice some Pan-African approaches. Isaiah Washington tried this with an independent movie a few years ago that didn't go well but I think that it is a formula that needs to be looked at. Saul Williams was the star of a Sengalese film that was pretty good. Mother of George was also a great Nigerian based film that did pretty well here in the States independently. We are going to have to market, hustle up that dough and collaborate with our sistren and breathren across the waters. it is only right!

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