Filmmaker Spike Lee, actress and philanthropist Debbie Reynolds, and Gena Rowlands received Honorary Oscars for their contribution to cinema at the Academy's annual Governors Awards in Hollywood on Saturday night. Lee stole the show by making Hollywood and the Academy accountable for its lack of diversity in the industry.
Hollywood's biggest stars attended the opulent event including Johnny Depp, Steve Carell, Jane Fonda, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, and Michael Caine. When Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, and Wesley Snipes introduced their friend Lee all hell broke loose. According to Vulture, Lee didn't hold back when it came time express his concerns about diversity.
"This industry is so far behind sports, it’s ridiculous," Lee continued. "It’s easier to be president of the United States as a black person than be head of a studio. Honest." He made it clear actions speak louder than words. "So we can talk 'yabba yabba yabba' but we need to have a serious conversation about diversity and get some flavor up in this!"
Although Lee has never won an Oscar, he noted that his career started with a student Academy Award for his thesis film. His movies have been nominated for Oscars in the past, one in 1990 for writing Do The Right Thing and another in 1998 as a producer of the documentary 4 Little Girls.
Lee embraced the moment and shared his journey, from struggling to stay motivated in school to busting his ass in Hollywood and receiving an Honorary Oscar. "Nothing happens overnight. There is no such thing as an overnight success. That's the biggest thing I try to tell young people," Lee said. "You have to bust your ass, roll up your sleeves, and attack attack attack."