Director Spike Lee to Receive Guild’s Highest Tribute at 74th Annual DGA Awards

Spike Lee

January 19, 2022

Los Angeles – Directors Guild of America President Lesli Linka Glatter today announced that Spike Lee will receive the Guild’s top honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Achievement in Motion Picture Direction.   

“Icon. Trailblazer. Visionary. Spike Lee has changed the face of cinema, and there is no single word that encapsulates his significance to the craft of directing,” said Glatter. “From his groundbreaking Do the Right Thing, BlacKkKlansman, and everything in-between – to his signature ‘double dolly’ shot, Spike is an innovator on so many levels. His bold and passionate storytelling over the past three decades has masterfully entertained, as it held a stark mirror to our society and culture. And while he is no stranger to huge commercial success, he is also the beating heart of independent film. Even as countless filmmakers call Spike their mentor and inspiration, he continues to devote his time to teaching future generations how to make their mark. We are thrilled to present Spike with the DGA’s highest honor.”

The DGA Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Achievement in Motion Picture Direction recognizes extraordinary efforts in the art of cinema.

Lee’s iconic body of storytelling has made an indelible mark on filmmaking. His feature directing career spans over 30 years and includes: She’s Gotta Have It, School Daze, Do the Right Thing, Mo' Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Malcolm X, Crooklyn, Clockers, Girl 6, Get on the Bus, He Got Game, Summer of Sam, Bamboozled, 25th Hour, She Hate Me, Inside Man, Miracle at St. Anna, Red Hook Summer, Old Boy, and Chi-Raq. His 2018 critically acclaimed hit feature BlacKkKlansman earned him a DGA Award nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Theatrical Feature Film, an Academy Award and numerous nominations (see additional bio information below).

In 2002, the Guild awarded Lee with a DGA Honor for his distinguished contributions to our nation’s culture in support of filmmaking. 

The Award will be presented at the 74th Annual DGA Awards on Saturday, March 12, 2022.

The DGA Lifetime Achievement Award is selected by the present and past presidents of the Guild. In the Guild’s 86-year history, just 35 directors have been recognized with this honor including: Frank Capra (1959), Alfred Hitchcock (1968), Orson Welles (1984), Billy Wilder (1985), Steven Spielberg (2000), Martin Scorsese (2003), Miloš Forman (2013), and most recently Ridley Scott (2017).

Spike Lee: 

Spike Lee’s iconic body of storytelling has made an indelible mark on filmmaking and television. Most recently, he has entered into a new creative partnership with Netflix, which will see him directing and producing narrative features under a multi-year deal with the streamer. He previously collaborated with Netflix on a number of projects including: Da 5 Bloods (which he directed and co-wrote), the series She’s Gotta Have It (which he created, wrote and directed), the film version of Rodney King (which he directed) and the Stefon Bristol sci-fi film See You Yesterday (which he produced).

In August 2021, he directed and produced the four-part documentary essay NYC EPICENTERS 9/112021½ released by HBO and streamed on HBO Max. His directed version of David Byrne’s American Utopia was also released by HBO and earned him a DGA Award nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Variety/Talk/News/Sports – Specials.

In the Television arena, his Netflix original series She’s Gotta Have It, ran 2 seasons on the platform. The series was a contemporary update of his classic film.

Lee is also known for his legendary Air Jordan TV commercials and marketing campaigns with Michael Jordan for Nike. In 1997, he launched the advertising agency Spike DDB, a fully integrated agency with a focus on trendsetter, cross-cultural, and millennial audiences. He recently directed new additions to the Capital One “Road Trip” national campaign featuring Samuel L. Jackson and Charles Barkley.

In addition to his films, TV series, and commercials, Lee has directed a number of music videos and shorts for artists such as Michael Jackson, Prince, Public Enemy, Branford Marsalis, Bruce Hornsby, Miles Davis, and Anita Baker.

In addition to his two DGA Award nominations, Lee is a five-time Oscar nominee (Do The Right Thing for Original Screenplay, 4 Little Girls for Documentary Feature, BlacKkKlansman for Picture, Director and Best Adapted Screenplay-Winner) and was awarded an Honorary Oscar in 2015 for his lifetime achievement and contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences.  He is a graduate of Morehouse College and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he is a tenured Professor of Film and Artistic Director. Lee’s Production Company 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks is based in Da Republic of Brooklyn, NY.

Past recipients of the DGA Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Achievement in Motion Picture Direction: 
  • Ridley Scott (2017)
  • Miloš Forman (2013)
  • Norman Jewison (2010)
  • Clint Eastwood (2006)
  • Mike Nichols (2004)
  • Martin Scorsese (2003)
  • Steven Spielberg (2000)
  • Francis Ford Coppola (1998)
  • Stanley Kubrick (1997)
  • Woody Allen (1996)
  • James Ivory (1995)
  • Robert Altman (1994)
  • Sidney Lumet (1993)
  • Akira Kurosawa (1992)
  • Ingmar Bergman (1990)
  • Robert E. Wise (1988)
  • Elia Kazan (1987)
  • Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1986)
  • Billy Wilder (1985)
  • Orson Welles (1984)
  • John Huston (1983)
  • Rouben Mamoulian (1982)
  • George Cukor (1981)
  • William A. Wellman (1973)
  • David Lean (1973)
  • Fred Zinnemann (1970)
  • Alfred Hitchcock (1968)
  • William Wyler (1966)
  • Frank Borzage (1961)
  • George Stevens (1960)
  • Frank Capra (1959)
  • King Vidor (1957)
  • Henry King (1956)
  • John Ford (1954)
  • Cecil B. DeMille (1953)
Nominations for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film will be announced on Thursday, January 27.  Nominations for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Television, Commercials, and Documentary will be announced on Wednesday, January 26. For more information about the DGA Awards including past winners, visit

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