Perhaps the most acclaimed African-American filmmaker of his generation, Lee has written and directed classics like Malcolm X and Do the Right Thing, incited some of the biggest race controversies since the civil rights era, and found time to attend a Knicks game or two.
Shelton Jackson Lee was raised in Fort Greene. After attending Atlanta's Morehouse College, Lee enrolled at NYU's film school and directed his first feature, She's Gotta Have It, in 1986. Shot over two weeks on a tiny budget of $170,000, the movie earned critical acclaim and was a surprise hit, bringing in $7 million at the box office and winning an award at Cannes. It was his third movie, though,1989's saga of multi-ethnic living and rioting in Bed-Stuy, Do The Right Thing, that minted Lee's reputation. He's since directed-and, at least in his earlier films, acted in-a long list of urban tales including Jungle Fever, He Got Game, Summer of Sam, Bamboozled, and The 25th Hour. Of course, he's supplemented his income by directing-and occasionally appearing in-a slew of commercials. He played the character Mars Blackmon from She's Gotta Have It in Nike spots alongside Michael Jordan for years, and he's also pushed products for Taco Bell, Jaguar, and Ben & Jerry's. While he seems to have turned down the dial and focus on television projects, his biggest hit in recent years was the very atypical Spike Lee joint Inside Man.
Lee is married to Tonya Lewis, a former lawyer who's now a television producer. They have two kids, Satchel and Jackson. [Image via Getty]