Did you know that in 2003, Spike Lee filed legal action against Spike TV to discontinue the use of his nickname, claiming that his fame may lead to people’s belief that he was affiliated with the network? Here are 10 more intriguing topics on the accomplished actor, writer, producer and film director.
1. Lee was born Shelton Jackson Lee to Jacqueline Carroll (a teacher) and William James Edward Lee III (a musician and composer) on March 20, 1957 in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the eldest among his siblings. He has a sister, Joie, and two brothers, David and Cinqué. Lee is married to Tonya Lewis, a lawyer, and from their union they were blessed with a daughter named Satchel and a son named Jackson.
2. Lee began to adopt a nickname when he was a child. This was after their family had moved to Brooklyn, New York, and his mother began to call him “Spike.”
3.Though Lee’s high school days were spent in Brooklyn, New York in John Dewey High School, he went back to Atlanta, Georgia to attend Morehouse College, where he earned his BA in Mass Communication. He then went back to New York for graduate school and attended New York University (Tisch School of Arts) where he completed his master’s degree in Fine Arts in Film and Television.
4.Lee’s film, “Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads,” which was his thesis at the Tisch School of Arts, won at the 10th Annual Student Film Awards (now Student Academy Award) held in June 5, 1983. It is the first film by a student that had been exhibited in the Lincoln Center’s New Directors New Films Festival.
5.Lee spent about $175,000 with two weeks of shooting for the hit film “She’s Gotta Have It.” It paid off pretty well, grossing more than $7,000,000.
6.In 1997, Lee made a documentary, “4 Little Girls,” for which he got a nomination in the Academy Awards for Best Documentary Feature. The film revolved around the story of the four African-American girls who were killed by Ku Klux Klan members during the bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama on Sept. 15, 1963 during a church service.
7.Lee has made more than 35 films. He has had two Academy Awards nominations. Among Lee’s recognitions are receiving the San Francisco Film Society’s Directing Award in 2007, the Wexner Prize in 2008, and The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize (one of the most monetarily rewarding prizes for Arts in America, amounting to $300,000) in 2013.
8.In 1990, Lee ventured into a career in TV commercials. He directed ads for Lee (501 button fly jeans), Nike (featuring the character Mars Blackmon and Michael Jordan), Jaguar, Converse, Ben & Jerry’s and Taco Bell.
9.When asked to comment on young people robbing others for Air Jordans, Lee suggested steering away from putting blame on the apparel company and replied that people instead should “deal with the conditions that make a kid put so much importance on a pair of sneakers, a jacket and gold”.
10.In 2001, being a great fan of the New York Knicks, Lee kept one Knicks ticket for the game between the Knicks and the Wizards (which was Michael Jordan’s comeback game) and auctioned off the other ticket for $101,300. Moved by the grief caused to many by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he donated the money he collected to the Widows and Children’s Fund organized by the New York Fire Department.