*The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recently presented Spike Lee with an Honorary Oscar, which is given “to honor extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy.”
Actress Gena Rowlands was also honored with a statuette, and Debbie Reynolds was honored with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. All three awards were presented at the Academy’s 7th Annual Governors Awards.
“The Board is proud to recognize our honorees’ remarkable contributions at this year’s Governors Awards,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “We’ll be celebrating their achievements with the knowledge that the work they have accomplished – with passion, dedication and a desire to make a positive difference – will also enrich future generations.”
The event wasn’t nationally televised, as Shadow and Act notes, but no doubt had it been, Spike’s lengthy, but hilarious acceptance speech, would have been edited for television.
The Academy has made footage of the night’s highlights available via YouTube, and Spike’s tribute included comments from Samuel L. Jackson, Wesley Snipes, and Denzel Washington. The moment was a long-time coming for Spike, who many would argue should’ve won an Oscar years ago.
Spike didn’t hold back in his speech, taking time to blast Hollywood for the lack of diversity behind the scenes, and on the big and small screens.
“It’s easier to be the president of the United States as a black person than to be the head of a studio,” Lee said in a nearly 18-minute speech.
“By the year 2043, white Americans are going to be a minority in this country. And all you people out there in the position of hiring, you better get smart. Because your workforce should reflect what this country looks like,” the director added.
Check out the first clip below of Snipes, Jackson and Washington supporting Spike; and underneath it, watch Spike’s acceptance speech.