The legendary Spike Lee presented his lecture “The Cultural Diversity in America,” in the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center Feb. 16.
His lecture was a part of the H.O.P.E (Helping Our People Excel) Diversity Program. The dinner and lecture are helping to raise money for the program. Reserved tickets were $20 and the VIP session with him was $80 that included the dinner and lecture.
Attending the recipient dinner was also an option. For $55, guests enjoyed dinner while H.O.P.E. scholarship recipients gave speeches.
I have always admired Lee on his filmmaking and his determination to have more African-Americans involved in the film industry.
I was shocked to realize that a serious filmmaker could have so much humor.
I was pleasantly surprised with his wittiness and charm.
Lee opened his lecture by saying, “I’m glad to be here for Black History month winding out. Shortest month of the year.” Either the audience did not find the comment funny or just completely missed it, but no one laughed.
Lee then said, “Black Folks were supposed to laugh at that.”
When he ended his lecture with time for questions he said, “Let’s get some ground rules. I’m not accepting any scripts, screenplay, novels or mixed tapes.”
I became a fan of Lee when I saw the film Malcolm X, that he directed. I became fascinated how Lee dealt with the negative response people had with him directing.
He based the film on “The Autobiography of Malcolm X as Told to Alex Haley.” Lee did not want to just include one facet of Malcolm X. He envisioned different Malcolms to be one.
The autobiography was not the only research that was used in the screen; Lee did research on his own to get more of an insight on Malcolm X by talking to the Black Muslims and his relatives. He is also known for “Do the Right Thing,” “Clockers,” and the “25th Hour.”
Lee told the audience how he got involved in filmmaking, “Only reason I’m here is because of my family.” It was really intriguing to learn how a kid from Brooklyn became a famous director.
Lee spent the summer of 1977 using a Super 8 camera to film the streets of New York because could not find work. His junior year of college he realized what he wanted to do. Lee said, “Film discovered me.”
His grades suffered during his first two years of school until he found something that motivated him.
His lecture did involve talking about cultural diversity.
He made same good points regarding African-Americans in Hollywood and how movies receive the green light to be made. Lee addressed the non-evolution from African-American roles. He said there has been no evolution since the first African-American Hattie McDaniel to win the Academy award in 1940 for best supporting actress from “Gone With the Wind.”
She portrayed a slave maid during the Civil War.
He said it has been over 60 years and Hollywood has not changed.
This year, African-American actresses from “The Help,” Viola Davis, and Octavia Spencer, were nominated for an Academy award — also for the portrayal of maids.
African-Americans only receive stereotypical roles such as maids, slaves, rappers, pimps and drug dealers.
Overall, I found “An evening with Spike Lee” to be very rewarding and insightful.
I enjoyed Lee and his sense of humor, the way he told stories from his past and his message to do work that is passionate to you.