Entertainment & Arts

Spike Lee calls for diversity as he receives honorary Oscar

Spike Lee Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Lee's films include Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X and Jungle Fever

US director Spike Lee has called for more diversity in the film industry while accepting an honorary Oscar.

"It's easier to be the president of the United States as a black person than be the head of a studio [or] network," he told an audience in Los Angeles.

The Do the Right Thing director called on studio bosses to "reflect what this country looks like" as he received his honour at Saturday's Governors Awards.

Debbie Reynolds and Gena Rowlands were also celebrated at the event.

Reynolds was unable to attend because of health reasons, so her prize was accepted by her granddaughter, actress Billie Lourd.

Lee, who received his award from actors Denzel Washington, Samuel L Jackson and Wesley Snipes, used his acceptance speech to highlight the racial imbalance he perceived in his industry.

"Everybody in here probably voted for [Barack] Obama," he told an audience that included Meryl Streep, Idris Elba, Dame Helen Mirren and Sir Ian McKellen.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Wesley Snipes (L), Samuel L Jackson (C) and Denzel Washington gave Lee his award

"But when I go to offices, I see no black folks except for the brother man at the security who checks my name off the list as I go into the studio.

"We need to have some serious discussion about diversity and get some flavour up in this," he continued.

Lee, 58, has twice been nominated for an Oscar, for writing Do the Right Thing in 1990 and for his 1997 documentary 4 Little Girls.

Rowlands has also received two Oscar nominations in the past, for 1974 film A Woman Under the Influence and 1980 thriller Gloria.

"I think I'll take him home with me," said the 85-year-old of her honorary statuette. "I know a wonderful place for him to sit."

Actresses Cate Blanchett and Laura Linney paid tribute to Rowlands before she received her award from Nick Cassavetes, her director son.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Rowlands received her Oscar from her son, Nick Cassavetes

The recipients of this year's awards will be invited to present awards at next year's Oscars, to be hosted by comedian Chris Rock on 28 February.

Despite the celebratory mood, the thoughts of those attending were never far from the attacks in Paris that left 129 people dead on Friday.

"It's tragic, absolutely tragic," British director Danny Boyle told USA Today. "The suffering for people is just terrible."

"I don't understand how that helps any cause, killing innocent people," rapper-turned-film producer Ice Cube told the same paper.

Lee, meanwhile, revealed his daughter Satchel had been studying in Paris before the attacks but had flown back to the US shortly before they started.

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