Spike Lee, born Shelton Jackson Lee in 1957 in Atlanta, is an influential American filmmaker renowned for addressing controversial subjects.
Raised in Brooklyn, he went to Morehouse College, then New York University’s Graduate Film School, making impactful films like his thesis “Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads.” Lee’s debut, “She’s Gotta Have It” (1986), set a pattern for his multifaceted roles in filmmaking.
Other significant works include “School Daze” (1988), “Do the Right Thing” (1989), which explored racial tensions and “Malcolm X” (1992).
Some of his films received criticism for perpetuating stereotypes. Despite Academy Award nominations, he won his first Oscar for “BlacKkKlansman” (2018).
Lee’s filmography includes diverse themes, from war dramas like “Da 5 Bloods” (2020) to documentaries on Hurricane Katrina.
Family has played a vital role in his productions, with several members, including his father, Bill, contributing to his films.
Below you will find the most famous quotes by Spike Lee.
Best Spike Lee Quotes
Power is knowing your past. ~ Spike Lee.
If you can’t take a hit, you’re not going to last long, that’s for sure. ~ Spike Lee.
I may have been born yesterday, but I stayed up all night. ~ Spike Lee.
I’ve got Sometimers. Sometimes I remember and sometimes I forget. ~ Spike Lee.
A lot of times, we censor ourselves before the censor even gets there. ~ Spike Lee.
I’ll be vilified if I shoot a film in Toronto for New York. And rightfully so! ~ Spike Lee.
Music is, for me, a great tool of a filmmaker, the same way cinematography, the acting, editing, post-production, the costumes are. You know, to help you tell a story. ~ Spike Lee.
A woman who is very secure in herself, what she’s about, what she wants to do, who probably figures that she’s a prize catch-sooner or later he’s going to come around. ~ Spike Lee.
First of all, what in this world does not revolve around money? But money is a big part of film, unlike a lot of other art forms. ~ Spike Lee.
It has been my observation that parents kill more dreams than anybody. ~ Spike Lee.
There’s always been this hocus-pocus or magical, mystical thing associated with the making of film that sort of psyches people out and makes them think that this cannot be done; that this is a craft that cannot be learned. ~ Spike Lee.
Top Spike Lee Quotes
American slavery was not a Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. It was a holocaust. My ancestors are slaves. Stolen from Africa. I will honor them. ~ Spike Lee.
Our greatness, our talent has never been the question. It’s been a matter of grappling for control over what we do. ~ Spike Lee.
My people, my people, what can I say; say what I can. I saw it but didn’t believe it; I didn’t believe what I saw. Are we gonna live together? Together are we gonna live? ~ Spike Lee.
He revolutionized music videos. Before Michael Jackson, MTV refused to play African-American artists. ~ Spike Lee.
I’d like to state that Spike Lee is not saying that African American culture is just for black people alone to enjoy and cherish. Culture is for everybody. ~ Spike Lee.
I don’t think my films are going to get rid of racism or prejudice. I think the best thing my films can do is provoke discussion. ~ Spike Lee.
I’m a storyteller, and there’s some genres I like. I don’t think I’m ever going to do science fiction, but I want to do a musical one day. I want to tell stories, I don’t really try to get boxed in by a specific genre. ~ Spike Lee.
I think black people have to be in control of their own image because film is a powerful medium. We can’t just sit back and let other people define our existence. ~ Spike Lee.
I’m very careful about how I portray violence in my films. I do believe that violence, especially violent video games, are not a good thing for young kids. ~ Spike Lee.
I want to tell stories, I don’t really try to get boxed in by a specific genre. ~ Spike Lee.
Cause mo better makes it mo better. ~ Spike Lee.
Inspirational Spike Lee Quotes
I’m just trying to tell a good story and make thought-provoking, entertaining films. I just try and draw upon the great culture we have as a people, from music, novels, the streets. ~ Spike Lee.
I give interracial couples a look. Daggers. They get uncomfortable when they see me on the street. ~ Spike Lee.
My cousin Malcolm Lee is also a filmmaker. ~ Spike Lee.
Do the right thing. ~ Spike Lee.
Since the days of slavery, if you were a good singer or dancer, it was your job to perform for the master after dinner. ~ Spike Lee.
We grew up in a very creative environment and were exposed to the arts at a very young age, so it’s not a surprise that all of us are in some form of the arts. ~ Spike Lee.
I didn’t dream about being a director. I didn’t know I wanted to do something with film until the summer between my sophomore and junior years at Morris College in Atlanta, Georgia. ~ Spike Lee.
I always give the example, if you turn on the radio today, black radio, Lenny Kravitz is not black. Bob Marley wasn’t black: in the beginning, only white college stations played Bob Marley. ~ Spike Lee.
Stick around long enough, you’ll get some grace. ~ Spike Lee.
I don’t like acting; not in front of the camera. ~ Spike Lee.
I am a hybrid. I do independent films and also do Hollywood films – I love them both. ~ Spike Lee.
I tend to favor films that have multiple plot and story lines, multiple characters and ensemble pieces. ~ Spike Lee.
Popular Spike Lee Quotes
Most human beings will not stand in front of a stage and tell you about the bad things they did. ~ Spike Lee.
For me, I believe in God, God is real. ~ Spike Lee.
I don’t see any negativity with what Brad Pitt is doing with his Make It Right Foundation, or what Sean Penn is trying to do in Haiti. ~ Spike Lee.
I’ve never seen black men with fine white women. They be ugly. Mugly dogs. ~ Spike Lee.
There’s an unwritten law that you cannot have a Jewish character in a film who isn’t 100 percent perfect, or you’re labeled anti-Semitic. ~ Spike Lee.
I miss my brother. Prince was a funny cat. Great sense of humor. ~ Spike Lee.
I like to work with the same people when I can, and you want to get people with the same interests that you have, and the same aesthetic. ~ Spike Lee.
Making films has got to be one of the hardest endeavors known to humankind. ~ Spike Lee.
As a writer I want everybody to get a chance to voice their opinions. If each character thinks that they’re telling the truth, then it’s valid. Then at the end of the film, I leave it up to the audience to decide who did the right thing. ~ Spike Lee.
Inspiring Spike Lee Quotes
It is really important that young people find something that they want to do and pursue it with passion. I’m very passionate about filmmaking. It’s what I love to do. ~ Spike Lee.
Fight the power that be. Fight the power. ~ Spike Lee.
I like people to look like they’re floating. ~ Spike Lee.
I am trying to stay away from this position of me returning to my roots. As if my roots are that I’m only comfortable working on low-budget, small films. That’s not the case at all. ~ Spike Lee.
People of color have a constant frustration of not being represented, or being misrepresented, and these images go around the world. ~ Spike Lee.
Those that’ll tell don’t know, and those that know won’t tell. ~ Spike Lee.
I think if people looked at my body of work, they’d see a great breadth of work. ~ Spike Lee.
If we became students of Malcolm X, we would not have young black men out there killing each other like they’re killing each other now. Young black men would not be impregnating young black women at the rate going on now. We’d not have the drugs we have now, or the alcoholism. ~ Spike Lee.
Don’t think that because you haven’t heard from me for a while that I went to sleep. I am still here, like a spirit roaming the night. Thirsty, hungry, seldom stopping to rest. ~ Spike Lee.
Famous Spike Lee Quotes
I collect names for characters. Names are valuable; they can be your first source of insight into a character. ~ Spike Lee.
I am very fortunate I can send my kids to private school, but everybody does not have the money. If you cannot get your kid in a good school today, your kids are going to be behind the eight ball. ~ Spike Lee.
I really don’t deal with hypotheticals. ~ Spike Lee.
America doesn’t have the moral right to tell other people what to do. To say the whole world has to fall into line is you-know-what. I hope more people will rise up. ~ Spike Lee.
I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to express the views of black people who otherwise don’t have access to power and the media. I have to take advantage of that while I’m still bankable. ~ Spike Lee.
If you have a talented family, you should be shot if you don’t use them. ~ Spike Lee.
I consider Madonna a friend, and she sure knows how to work the publicity machine. Of course, I don’t have breasts. If I did have, I’d be in the number one spot over Madonna. ~ Spike Lee.
All directors are storytellers, so the motivation was to tell the story I wanted to tell. That’s what I love. ~ Spike Lee.
Baby, you’re so fine, I’d drink a tub of your bath water. ~ Spike Lee.
I respect the audience’s intelligence a lot, and that’s why I don’t try to go for the lowest common denominator. ~ Spike Lee.
I used the principles of Kickstarter to make ‘She’s Gotta Have It.’ We filmed that in 1985 to 1986. The final cost was $175,000. I didn’t have that money. It was friends, grants, donations. We saved our bottles for the nickel deposit. ~ Spike Lee.
You have to do the research. If you don’t know about something, then you ask the right people who do. ~ Spike Lee.
Motivational Spike Lee Quotes
A lot of times you get credit for stuff in your movies you didn’t intend to be there. ~ Spike Lee.
I think my work shows that I love women. I understand where these types of criticisms are coming from because black people have been so dogged out in the media, they’re just extra sensitive. ~ Spike Lee.
I get offered to do stuff where the money’s nice but it’s not something I want to do – I get offered a lot of commercials too. ~ Spike Lee.
I live in New York City, the stories of my films take place in New York; I’m a New York filmmaker. ~ Spike Lee.
Parents kill more dreams than anybody. ~ Spike Lee.
Violence is a part of America. I don’t want to single out rap music. Let’s be honest. America’s the most violent country in the history of the world, that’s just the way it is. We’re all affected by it. ~ Spike Lee.
As a people we do not need anyone else’s stamp of approval. ~ Spike Lee.
Any time you talk about the look of the film, it’s not just the director and the director of photography. You have to include the costume designer and the production designer. ~ Spike Lee.
It comes down to this: black people were stripped of our identities when we were brought here, and it’s been a quest since then to define who we are. ~ Spike Lee.
Everything I do is always scrutinized. But that’s all I’ll say about that. ~ Spike Lee.
I think it is very important that films make people look at what they’ve forgotten. ~ Spike Lee.
Ultimate Spike Lee Quotes
I don’t dictate, you don’t dictate to Stevie Wonder, not successfully. ~ Spike Lee.
I knew I was never going to play professional sport, but I loved playing and I went to all the games I could afford to. ~ Spike Lee.
When I went to school, you had to take art, you had to play an instrument. You had to play an instrument. But it’s all degraded since then. I do not know what kind of nation we are that is cutting art, music, and gym out of the public-school curriculum. ~ Spike Lee.
I ain’t Martin Luther King. I don’t need a dream. I have a plan. ~ Spike Lee.
I’m not the go-to guy. Everybody is trying to tell their story and have different ways of telling it. ~ Spike Lee.
I had a great education. From kindergarten to John Dewey High School in Coney Island, I am public-school educated. ~ Spike Lee.
I never understood the concept of showing everything in the trailer. Why go to a movie if there’s no surprise? I can’t do it like that. ~ Spike Lee.
What’s the difference between Hollywood characters and my characters? Mine are real. ~ Spike Lee.
When you love something it’s not a job anymore. ~ Spike Lee.
I don’t really analyze my stuff when I write. I write about stuff that I’m interested in, that I’m feeling at that particular time. When I stand back and look at the complete work, I might see themes that run through the whole film, but I’m not really conscious of it when I’m doing it. ~ Spike Lee.
Critics like to build you up, tear you down, and then, if you’re lucky, build you up again. ~ Spike Lee.
So these were the 87 top Spike Lee quotes on life and movies.