Doing The Right Thing: Spike Lee Receives Honorary Oscar Award

August 28, 2015  |  

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Iconic director Spike Lee has brought authentic Black stories to the big screen for years and his transcending work is being honored by the Academy Awards this fall. Announced Thursday, Lee will soon be the only African American to take home the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

The Board of Governors presents the award “to honor extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service,” noted USA Today.

Lee has definitely done all of the above in the movies and the streets, where he can often be found hosting Brooklyn block parties and marching for civil rights on any given day.

“I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to express the views of black people who otherwise don’t have access to power and the media. I have to take advantage of that while I’m still bankable,” said Lee in Do the Right Thing: A Spike Lee Joint.

The gifted director will receive his honorary Oscar at the 7th Annual Governors Awards on Saturday, November 14 in Hollywood.

Lee is, of course, no stranger to the Academy Awards. In 1983, his breakout film and NYU thesis Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads won a Student Academy Award and the creator hasn’t stopped since.

“What’s the difference between Hollywood characters and my characters? Mine are real,” said Lee on what sets him apart in The Secret Lives of Filmmakers. It’s this distinction that has kept Lee in the game for so long.

“The board is proud to recognize our honorees’ remarkable contributions,” said Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Academy president, in a statement. “We’ll be celebrating their achievements with the knowledge that the work they have accomplished – with passion, dedication and a desire to make a positive difference – will also enrich future generations.”

Lee earned an original screenplay Oscar nomination for 1989’s Do The Right Thing and another nomination for directing the 1997 documentary 4 Little Girls. However, this will be the artist’s first time taking home an Oscar, though he has received numerous other awards.

Aside from making films, Lee is also the artistic director of the graduate film program at NYU.

“You gotta make your own way. You gotta find a way. You gotta get it done. It’s hard. It’s tough. That’s what I tell my students every day in class,” Lee told IndieWire.

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