Spike Lee Slams Hollywood While Accepting Honorary Oscar at Governors Awards

Director says it's easier to be president of the United Stats than it is to be head of a movie studio

By Marc Malkin Nov 15, 2015 8:15 AMTags
Spike Lee, Tonya Lewis, After PartiesDave Kotinsky/WireImage

Spike Lee has once again put Hollywood on blast.

"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," the director said last night while receiving an honorary Oscar at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' seventh annual Governors Awards. "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," he continued. "Honestly, it's easier to be president of the United States than the head of a studio or head of network."

Lee urged Hollywood executives to take a closer look at the people around them.

David Livingston/Getty Images

"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," he said. "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."

Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson and Wesley Snipes presented the She's Gotta Have It director with his award.

Lee praised academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs for her work in promoting diversity in Hollywood.

"President, keep it going," he said. "I know it's tough. We got a long way to go."

Honorary Oscars were also handed out to Gena Rowlands and Debbie Reynolds.

Reynolds was unable to make to the gala because of health reasons, but her granddaughter, Scream Queens star Billie Lourd, accepted it on her behalf.

Rowlands was presented with her award by Cate Blanchett, Laura Linney and her son, director Nick Cassavetes.

"I think I'll take him home with me," Rowlands, 85, said as she clutched her statuette to her chest. "I know a wonderful place for him to sit, maybe on the piano and then everyone who comes to my house will have a chance to see him and admire him and love him the way I do."

The night's guest list also included Michael Keaton, Will Smith, Helen Mirren, Idris Elba, Amy Schumer, Mark Ruffalo, Jane Fonda, Meryl Streep, Rooney Mara, Saoirse Ronan, Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, Rachel Weisz, Ian McKellen, John Cusack, Paul Dano, Joel Edgerton, Daniel Craig, Michael Caine, Lily Tomlin and Harvey Keitel.

The night is considered a must for actors and directors trying to snag Oscar nominations because it's a chance to schmooze academy members.

In fact, Blacnhett joked while urging everyone to smile for a group photo, "Say 'Cheese, vote for me!'"