Award-winning filmmaker Spike Lee opened up about Chadwick Boseman, Donald Trump and the circumstances of Black and Brown people in America.
Lee, 63, is the epitome of Black film, from “Do The Right Thing,” to “Malcolm X,” to “BlacKkKlansman,” to his latest film “Da 5 Bloods.” Lee has not only given the world iconic films with powerful messages, but he also makes sure to speak out on those messages in real life. And he doesn’t mind pointing out the things he could care less for, like Donald J. Trump. During an interview with Variety, Lee discussed the ignorance, negligence and complete idiocy of 45 and his administration, specifically in terms of their mishandling of the coronavirus. “It goes to show you, s— could change in a second,” said Lee.
He added that if it were up to Trump, Black people and other people of color would be living in a pre-Civil Rights era. He feels that is what Trump means by “Make America Great Again.” “Roll back the clock. If it was up to him, I’d be singing, ‘Let my people go.’ I’d be singing Negro spirituals, ‘Wade in the Water,’ all types of stuff. Along with stealing the land from Native Americans and genocide, that’s how this country was built.”
Lee also quickly touched on how only six Black filmmakers have been nominated for Best Director, including himself, yet no Black women have ever been nominated. “They always have it harder, no matter what it is, so why should it be different in film? That’s that simple.”
Lee then talked about his first film “She’s Gotta Have It,” a film he says would not have existed without the help of his grandmother. “I got to thank my grandmother. My grandmother put me through film school and Morehouse. I was the first grandchild, and she used to save her Social Security checks for 50 years for her grandchildren’s education. And she gave me seed money for my thesis film, ‘Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop,’ which won a Student Academy Award. And the seed money for ‘She’s Gotta Have It.’ I first had to get the money to shoot. Then, the next stage, we get the money to get the film out of the lab. Then, they get enough money for me to live on so I could edit the film. And then, hopefully, in the third stage, I show it to potential investors and finish the film. I shot it in 12 days — two six-day weeks — for $175,000,” said Lee.
This year Lee dropped his latest film on Netflix, “Da 5 Bloods,” which featured late and forever great Chadwick Boseman. Back in August, it was announced that Boseman had died after battling colon cancer for years. Lee says the actor seemed ill but he never knew he was sick. “The thing with Chadwick? I didn’t know Chad was sick,” said Lee. “He did not look well, but my mind never took that he had cancer. It was a very strenuous shoot.”
“I understand why Chadwick didn’t tell me because he didn’t want me to take it easy. If I had known, I wouldn’t have made him do the stuff. And I respect him for that,” he added.
Lee, an NYC native, also touched on how Black and Brown people in New York made sure the city progressed amid the coronavirus. New York has always gone through hard times and rebounded, so I’m not buying that. “But here’s the thing — it was the Black and Brown people of New York City that kept this motherf—er going. And we saw it [with] MTA buses, the subway, hospital workers, cops, firemen, nurses, first responders. And also, we paid the price. We didn’t have a choice,” said Lee. “We had to work. A lot of these people, I think, wanted to work. They wanted to help. And then, we suffered the most because of the condition we live in. We’re just not healthy. We don’t have the health services that other people have. I don’t think you have to be a medical Einstein to see that we over-index Black and Brown people: hypertension, obesity, we can go down the line.”