It’s one thing that Spike Lee has been making feature films for over three decades, with no sign of slowing down, but his achievement is even more remarkable when you consider just how diverse his body of work truly is. Beyond features, he’s made documentaries, TV shows, music videos, and even made an impact in the advertising world (his run of Nike ads with Michael Jordan were game-changing). However, one honor has eluded him all these years: an Oscar. Nominated for Best Original Screenplay for “Do The Right Thing” and Best Documentary for “4 Little Girls,” Lee finally took home a gold statue with an Honorary Oscar, awarded over the weekend.
Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, and Wesley Snipes feted Lee, who then gave an 18-minute speech recounting his career, films, and much more. Lee also addressed the issue of diversity in the industry, noting pointedly: “It’s easier to be the president of the United States as a black person than to be the head of a studio.”
Throughout the largely jovial speech, Lee makes clear his determination to employ as many black people as possible on his sets, while detailing the journey that finally brought him to the Academy stage. And at the core, his passion for movies shines through.
“I don’t say I found film,” he said. “Film found me.” Watch his speech below along with Washington, Jackson, and Snipes’ introduction.