American film director, producer, and actor, Spike Lee was recently honored by his peers and associates becoming the 34th recipient of the American Cinematheque Award last month. The honor is given to an extraordinary artist who has achieved, and continues to achieve, great success by making significant contributions to American culture.
Lee is no stranger to Hollywood and has built an illustrious career through artistry in such movies as Da 5 Bloods, Black BlacKKKlansman, Do the Right Thing, and so many more classics. There are few who have provided more innovation and cultural relevance than the 63-year old filmmaker or who have been more outspoken on issues impacting the Black community.
BET.com sat down with Lee who let it be known how he truly feels about getting the COVID-19 vaccination, his thoughts about the insurrection at the Capitol building in January and witnessing his son daughter make history this weekend at the Golden Globe Awards.
BET.com: Your children have made history and for the first time ever, two siblings of color have been selected as Golden Globes Ambassadors. As a Black father, what advice do you give them specifically around the issues of social injustice? How do you guide them through these times?
Spike Lee: My beautiful wife, Tonya Lewis Lee deserves all the credit for the great, young, talented artists our children have become. My son Jackson and my daughter Satchel and a lot about the persons they have become comes from just listening to the dialogue that goes on at the dinner table. We talk about issues. We talk about the world we live in. So, they’ve seen my films. They’ve seen my wife’s films. They have been immersed in this culture. They’ve been immersed in the world we live in. So, it’s not like my wife, Tonya and I have ever had to give them speeches. It’s a flow of discussions.
BET.com: Have you had conversations with your son about getting pulled over?
Spike Lee: As a Black father, I have had discussions which I feel is a duty that a Black father has to have with his Black son and that’s not to negate or disrespect our daughters. But, yes, my son and I have had discussions.
BET.com: Where were you on Jan 6, 2021 and how did it feel seeing the government literally attacked on Capitol Hill?
Spike Lee: Mob violence is part of the history of this country. Let’s go to the term, ‘lynch mob,’ where it was like [done at] a cookout. Thousands of white supremacists come out to see ni**as being lynched, burned, body parts sold, postcards sold of Black bodies. As our great sister Billie Holiday sang “Strange Fruit.” What I saw on Jan. 6th was a repeat of the history of this country.
BET.com: You’re very active on social media. Do you ever respond to trolls who make comments on your posts?
Spike Lee: Sometimes I delete people. Block, restrict, and other times I ignore it. Some of the comments I get are so ignorant. I really just take the time to explain to them that what they wrote was not factual, but ignorant.
For example, recently I posted a picture of an African-American nurse who was selected to be one of the first people in this country to receive the vaccine. And she’s from Brooklyn, too. And I posted a picture and Black Twitter got on my ass. This was the time where I felt, I had to educate people.
I know about the Tuskegee experiment. I know about the history of medicine where we are used as guinea pigs. I also know that this Rona is wiping out Blacks and brown people in this country at a higher rate than anybody. I know that a large majority of first responders are Black and brown people.
And when it’s my time to take the vaccine, like we say growing up in public school in Brooklyn, I’m not trying to cut the line. I’m not tryna jump the line. When it’s time for me to take the vaccine, I will take it. I will video tape iit, take a picture of it and get it out because I do believe that we need to take the vaccine to save us. I am taking the vaccine to protect my wife, children, siblings, and co-workers. This is not a hoax.
BET.com: What is your process like when it is time to write your scripts?
Spike Lee: It really depends from film-to-film, but the goal is to always tell a story. My favorite filmmakers are storytellers. You can leave out the politics or whatnot, but the politics aren’t the germ for me that starts the story. They might be in the movie, but that’s not the germ. The germ is a story.
Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images