30th Anniversary of She’s Gotta Have it by Spike Lee
30 years ago today, Spike Lee released his first movie: “She’s Gotta Have It”.
According to History.com, She’s Gotta Have It was a comedy about a free-spirited African-American woman in Brooklyn, New York, and her three suitors. The movie dealt directly with the issue of sex and race relations during a time when Black directors, if any directors at all, were covering such important, explicit issues.
Spike Lee portrayed the main character, Nola Darling, as a young woman who is independent, attractive, proud of her sexuality and in direct opposition of monogamy. The three men she dates throughout the film, Jamie Overstreet, Mars Blackmon, and Greer Childs, all represent different kinds of men that appeal to the various tastes of Ms. Nola Darling.
The courage, dedication and commitment shown by Spike Lee throughout the direction and production of this film was directly responsible for launching Lee’s career and establishing his reputation as an outspoken filmmaker who often tackled controversial subjects.
Below is a short summary of Spike Lee’s life and career after the production of She’s Gotta Have It.
Shelton Jackson “Spike” Lee was born March 20, 1957, in Atlanta, Georgia, and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from Morehouse College and received a master’s degree in film and television from New York University. Following the success of She’s Gotta Have It, he went on to write and direct 1988’sSchool Daze, about fraternity and sorority members at a black college, and 1989’sDo the Right Thing, about racial conflicts in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Do the Right Thing earned Lee an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
Lee directed a steady stream of films in the 1990s, including Mo’ Better Blues(1990), in which he co-starred with Denzel Washington and Wesley Snipes; Jungle Fever (1991), about a combustive affair between a black man (Snipes) and a white woman (Annabella Sciorra); the biopic Malcolm X (1992), starring Washington in the title role; Clockers (1995), based on the novel by Richard Price; 4 Little Girls(1997), a documentary about the notorious 1963 church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama that received an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary; and Summer of Sam (1999), a thriller based on the infamous 1977 “Son of Sam” serial murders in New York City.
Lee’s more recent directorial efforts include 25th Hour (2002), starring Edward Norton, and Inside Man (2006), starring Washington, Clive Owen and Jodie Foster. In 2006, he produced and directed the documentary miniseries When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, about the devastation wrought on the city of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 and the local and federal government’s flawed response to it. The film won three Emmy Awards, including one for Outstanding Directing for Lee.
In addition to his film work, Lee has had a successful career directing television commercials, perhaps most notably for Nike. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Lee’s Mars Blackmon character became the pitchman for Air Jordan basketball shoes.
For any reader who may be unfamiliar with this original Spike Lee film, check it out here!