Filmmaker Spike Lee Visits Campus as Distinguished Speaker

Filmmaker Spike Lee Visits Campus as Distinguished Speaker
Innovative filmmaker Spike Lee speaks about current events and making movies at Cal Poly Pomona on May 6. Lee's visit was part of the university's 2003 Distinguished Speaker Series.

Spike Lee signs autographs after speaking at Cal Poly Pomona.

Acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee emphasized the importance of education and the pursuance of dreams as he addressed a capacity crowd packed into the Bronco Student Center Multipurpose Room on May 6.

?Ninety-nine percent of the people in this world have had to work all their life at a job they hate,? said Lee, who is recognized as a creative force in the film industry. ?You don?t want to be in that position, so college is critical. Don?t let anybody tell you that [your degree] does not mean anything. You cannot put a price on educating your mind.?

The visit by Lee ? an accomplished producer, director, actor, writer and entrepreneur as well as movie visionary and candid celebrity ? was part of the 2003 Distinguished Speaker Series sponsored by the Associated Students Inc. Bronco Events & Activities Team, the Office of Student Life and the university?s Cultural Centers.

An alumnus of Morehouse College and New York University?s Tisch School of the Arts graduate film program, Lee has been making an impact with his movies for two decades.

After winning a student Academy Award in 1983, Lee said he had ?succumb to a dangerous disease called ?overnight success,?? when he got an agent, sat in his studio apartment and waited for his phone to ring.

“I knew Spielberg, Lucas, Warner Bros., Columbia and Paramount were going to call,? he said. ?I thought that I could just sit there and my movie career would fall out of the sky, I would get my feature film and be on my way. But it doesn?t work like that. There is no short cut for rolling up your sleeves and doing the dirty work.?

Lee enjoyed his first commercial success in 1986 with ?She?s Gotta Have It.? Since then, Lee?s resume features a list of acclaimed productions including ?Do The Right Thing,? ?Mo? Better Blues,? ?Jungle Fever,? ?Malcom X,? ?He Got Game,? ?Get On The Bus,? ?Love & Basketball,? and ?25th Hour.?

Lee?s films, many that he has also written and produced, offer a wide spectrum and changing perceptions of society. Film critic Leonard Maltin credits Lee with almost single-handedly generating resurgence in African American cinema.

?Growing up, the richness of the African-American culture that I could see just looking out my window or standing on the corner was not really [portrayed] on the screen or on the television,? said Lee. ?Once I decided in college that I wanted to be a filmmaker, I knew I would try to provide a different perspective of the African-American experience on screen.?