Brow Beat

Spike Lee’s Long-Overdue Oscar Speech Trumpeted the Need for Diversity in Hollywood

Spike Lee finally has his Oscar. The director, whose two-nomination, zero-win record remains one of the Academy’s more egregious oversights, was one of three to receive an honorary statue at Saturday’s Governor’s Awards. (The others: Gena Rowlands and Debbie Reynolds). Lee’s Oscar was presented by Denzel Washington, Wesley Snipes, and Samuel Jackson, and after their introduction the director gave a sharp, playful speech about his evolution from unmotivated Morehouse man to trailblazing auteur.

Lee indulged some lovely digressions along the way—musings on his mother’s love for cinema and his early obsession with success—but the speech’s through line was diversity in Hollywood. Though his forthcoming film, Chiraq, has been criticized for its portrayal of Chicago’s black community, Lee stressed his career-long mission to elevate minorities in the industry, and ended by noting the need for “serious discussion about diversity” in a time when “it’s easier to be the president of the United States as a black person than to be the head of a studio.”