The Governors Awards were held Saturday night in Hollywood. This has gotten to be a really nice event, held months before the Oscars. The Academy devotes a night of celebration for their lifetime achievement winners, basically. In past years, people like Angelina Jolie, Steve Martin, Oprah, Harry Belafonte, and this year, the awards recipients were Debbie Reynolds (she won the Jean Horsholt Humanitarian Award), Gena Rowlands and Spike Lee. Spike has never won an individual Oscar for writing, producing or directing, but like so many of the artists who have been consistently snubbed for awards throughout the years, the Academy finally decided to give him a lifetime achievement/career Oscar.
Earlier this year, Spike had some really interesting and reflective words to say about Ava DuVernay’s Oscar snubs, and I wondered if he was mellowing out a little bit. I admire Spike Lee for what he’s achieved, but in public statements over the years, he can seem a bit temperamental (although it’s at times justified). So Spike chose this moment at the Governors Awards to blast the Hollywood establishment and their white-only myopia. Here are some highlights from his speech:
“Everybody in here probably voted for Obama but when I go to offices, I see no black folks except for the brother man at the security who checks my name off the list as I go into the studio…. So we can talk ‘yabba yabba yabba’ but we need to have some serious discussion about diversity and get some flavor up in this. This industry is so behind sports it’s ridiculous. It’s easier to be the president of the United States as a black person than be the head of a studio. Honestly, it’s easier to be president of the United States than the head of a studio or head of network.”
“I don’t know if you noticed but the United States census bureau says by the year 2043, white Americans are going to be the minority in this country. And all you people out there in the position of hiring, you better get smart because you’ll work for us. Reflect what this country looks like.”
He’s not wrong. In the lead up to his speech, Samuel L. Jackson even pointed out that Spike has put more African-Americans to work in front of and behind the camera, although to offer one small piece of counter-narrative: Spike gets a lot of criticism for how little he does for women of color. During his speech, Spike also gave a shout-out to the current Academy president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, and what she’s done to support diversity within the Academy.
Here are some additional photos from the Governors Awards, including Cate Blanchett, Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, Helen Mirren and Bryan Cranston.
Photos courtesy of Getty.