You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Spike Lee Wins His First Competitive Oscar

“BlackKklansman” director Spike Lee took home his first Oscar at Sunday’s Academy Awards, following five nominations over nearly 30 years.

“Do not turn that motherf—ing clock on!” he shouted as he took to stage, relishing in a moment years in the making. However, Academy producers were less enthused, bleeping out the sentence and leaving many viewers confused as to why the audio dropped out for so long at the start of his remarks.

Audio didn’t cut back in until Lee began thanking his wife Tonya Lewis Lee – the start to an impassioned speech about the history of African-Americans in the United States and the extreme hardships they faced.

“I want to thank Tonya,” he said. “The word today is irony; the date, the 24th; the month, February, which also happens to be the shortest month of the year, which also happens to be Black History Month; the year, 2019; the year, 1619. History, herstory. 1619, 2019. Four hundred years, our ancestors were stolen from Africa and enslaved. They worked the land from morning to night.”

“Before the world tonight I give praise to my ancestors who built our country, along with the genocide of our native people,” he continued. “We all connect with ancestors, to regain our humanity. It will be a powerful moment.”

Lee also took time to thank his grandmother – a college graduate despite being the daughter of a slave – who saved 50 years of social security checks to put him through college all while calling him “Spiky poo” along the way.

After graduating film school from New York University’s Tisch School of Arts, Lee got his first taste of Academy recognition for his 1990 film “Do the Right Thing” before nabbing another nod in 1998 for “4 Little Girls” as well as an honorary Oscar in 2016. This year, Lee is nominated in three categories including best achievement in directing, best motion picture, and best adapted screenplay, for which he won the Academy Award.

Back on the Academy stage, Lee closed out his speech with a simple call to action, reminding audience members about the impending presidential elections and ending with a small shoutout for his first hit film.

“The 2020 presidential election is around the corner. Let’s all mobilize, let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate,” he said. “Let’s do the right thing! You know I had to get that in there.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Mackenzie Davis Terminator Dark Fate

    ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Paramount Pictures claims the top spot in spending with “Terminator: Dark Fate.” Ads placed for the sci-fi action film had an estimated media value of $6.81 million through Sunday for 796 national ad airings [...]

  • Judy & Punch review

    Damon Herriman Stands Out as 'The Nightingale' and 'Lambs of God' Lead AACTA Nominations

    Dark thriller, “The Nightingale” and miniseries “Lambs of God” lead the pack at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards. In nominations announced on Wednesday, they picked up 15 and 18 nods, respectively. Jennifer Kent’s “The Nightingale” was one of six films nominated in the best film category. With others including Mirrah Foulkes’ [...]

  • Daisy Ridley is Rey in STAR

    'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' Scores Best First-Day Atom Ticket Sales for a 'Star Wars' Film

    Disney-Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker” has racked up the best first day of advance ticket sales for a “Star Wars” movie ticketed by Atom. Sales launched during the half time of ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” Atom’s overall first-day record was set in April by Disney-Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame.” But “Star Wars: The Rise of [...]

  • Cardi B

    Cardi B Joins Vin Diesel in 'Fast & Furious 9'

    Cardi B has joined the cast of Universal’s “Fast & Furious 9” in an undisclosed role. It’s the rapper’s first movie part since her role as the stripper Diamond in STX’s drama “Hustlers.” Vin Diesel disclosed the casting Tuesday in a post on his Instagram account with a video that showed him and Cardi B [...]

  • James Wan

    Film News Roundup: James Wan's Horror Thriller 'Malignant' Gets August Release

    In today’s film news roundup, James Wan’s “Malignant” gets a late-summer release, a Rita Hayworth documentary is shooting and Women in Animation have announced diversity awards winners. RELEASE DATE Warner Bros. has set an Aug. 14 release date for James Wan’s horror thriller “Malignant.” Wan will direct the movie, based on a story by Wan [...]

  • Michael Shannon Benedict Cumberbatch Tuppence Middleton

    How Martin Scorsese Saved 'Current War' From Harvey Weinstein

    Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon finally gets to release his version of his long-in-the-making “The Current War.” The film, about the competition between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, was originally set to be distributed by the Weinstein Company after Harvey Weinstein recut it, much to Gomez-Rejon’s chagrin. To make matters worse, Weinstein premiered the movie at the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content