Spike Lee is nominated for six Academy Awards at this year’s Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay- but the celebrated filmmaker with a long history of Oscar snubs is self-aware enough to not take his nominations personally.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, at the Icon Mann gala on Thursday night, Lee was honored with the Legacy Award, ahead of Sunday nights Oscar telecast.
Lee brought former Academy President Cheryl Boone Issacs on stage with him and told the audience that Issacs and another woman, #oscarssowhite founder April Reign “are the reason why we got nominations… they are responsible for all these black folks getting nominations.”
Both Issacs and Reign are influential women of color who have pushed the Academy (from both inside and out) to diversify its membership ranks by issuing invitations and initiatives to include more women, people of color and international filmmakers. Making the organization the most diverse it’s ever been.
Lee credited these women with impacting the voting membership and noted that “it was not like [this] back in 1990” when Lee was very publicly snubbed by the Academy when he didn’t receive a Best Picture nod for his groundbreaking film “Do the right thing.”
Lee told the star-studded audience that the Academy voters finally looks diverse.
“I’ve always felt that when there’s awards I think ‘who’s voting?’ Lee continued “the Academy looks more like the America we live in, and that was your vision.”
Later in his acceptance speech, the director told the audience that recognition of black films is cyclical and “every 10 years black folks get awards.”
Every decade, Lee said he gets calls like, “Has Hollywood discovered black people? And then it would be a nine-year drought. So we don’t know what’s going to happen next year. There’s a lot of people who are nominated, especially the filmmakers, and are they going to have a film next year?”
Only time will tell.