What You Didn't Know About Spike Lee's Wife

While director Spike Lee has become a household name, his wife, Tonya Lewis Lee, has enjoyed a quieter success. Throughout their nearly 30-year marriage, Spike has created some of the most influential films of the 21st century — like BlacKkKlansman, Jungle Fever, Bamboozled, and Da 5 Bloods (via Insider). In that time, Tonya has proven to be just as influential through her work as a film and television producer, children's book author, and wellness advocate for women and babies. More recently, the pair have been working together to recreate She's Gotta Have It, a Netflix series adapted from Lee's original 1986 movie (per PBS).

Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee have two children, Satchel Lee, 26, and Jackson Lee, 24. The siblings will make history this year as the first two siblings of color to have been appointed as Golden Globe Ambassadors (via Variety).

So, in honor of the 78th Annual Golden Globes on Sunday, February 28, we wanted to learn more about one important part of this powerful family — Tonya Lewis Lee.

Spike Lee aggressively pursued Tonya Lewis Lee

The pair first met at a Congressional Black Caucus dinner in 1992, and, according to Tonya, Spike pursued her quite aggressively at first. "We walked past each other," she told Essence in 2011. "Spike circled back around and proceeded to give me the third degree. 'Are you an actress? A model? A singer? Who are you here with? What do you do? Do you have a boyfriend?'"

Upon meeting Spike, Tonya, who was working as a lawyer in Washington, D.C., at the time, was immediately intrigued by his creativity and the Bohemian lifestyle he led. Though she had always wanted to be involved in the film industry, it was eventually her union with Spike that pushed Tonya to pursue more creative interests. The couple was married only a year later, in 1993, and one year after that, gave birth to their first child, Satchel (via Amo Mama).

Lack of Black representation in children's books prompted Tonya Lewis Lee to write her own

After the birth of her children, Tonya Lewis Lee realized that most children's books lacked positive Black representation. So, working alongside her husband and award-winning illustrators Kadir Nelson and Sean Qualls, Lewis Lee set out to create a series of books that would resonate with Black parents. "I had a baby and was seeing the world through her eyes, and I realized that there weren't enough children's books out there that featured kids that looked like her, so I thought, 'Why don't I write these books?'" Tonya told Coveteur.

The couple's children's books include Please, Baby, Please, published in 2002, about the trials and tribulations of raising a child, Please, Puppy, Please, published in 2005, about a family's adoption of a puppy, and Giant Steps to Change the World, published in 2011, which celebrates people in history who have changed the world. (via Simon & Schuster).

She is a champion for the health and well-being of women and babies

After authoring her first two children's books, Tonya Lewis Lee was asked to be the national spokesperson for the "A Healthy Baby Begins With You" campaign, launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health in 2007. "I joined the campaign and discovered that when you're talking about a child's health, you're talking about women's health," Tonya told Coveteur. "I traveled the country with that campaign and learned so much. I wanted to share it in a girlfriend-to-girlfriend kind of way, providing information and encouraging and inspiring women to lead their healthiest lives."

That experience led Tonya to create Movita, a certified organic vitamin supplement line designed to promote wellness, specifically for women and babies, in 2015. "I'm the first person who will tell you that no one pill is going to do everything, but as part of a lifestyle of health and wellness, it can be helpful," Lewis Lee told Coveteur. "I think of it as a tool in a women's arsenal to be as healthy as you can be, because it can give you your baseline nutrition."

Activist and poet Audre Lorde is Tonya's biggest inspiration

Earlier this month, Vogue asked Black beauty leaders to pick their most prominent influence, and Tonya Lewis Lee cited civil rights activist and writer Audre Lorde as her "wellness inspiration." In her 1988 book, A Burst of Light and Other Essays, Lorde wrote, "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare" (per Oprah Magazine).

According to Tonya, it was this quote that inspired her to create Movita Organics. "Audre Lourde is my wellness inspiration," she told Vogue. "As women, when we prioritize the welfare of our body, mind, and spirit we positively impact our family, our community, and ultimately the wellbeing of our nation. It's this priority of health that inspired me to create Movita Organics — to support women wherever they are on their wellness journey."

She has pushed her husband creatively

Before collaborating with her husband on the Netflix television series She's Gotta Have It, Tonya Lewis Lee produced some programming for Nickelodeon, including the miniseries Miracle's Boys and the documentary I Sit Where I Want (via Ebony). In 2014, Tonya founded ToniK Productions with Nikki Silver. The production company has produced films like The Giver, The Watsons Go To Birmingham, and She's Gotta Have It (per ToniK Productions).

From 2017 to 2019, Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee teamed up to direct and produce a revival of Spike Lee's 1986 film She's Gotta Have It, which centers around Brooklyn-based artist Nola Darling and her struggles to remain true to herself amid all kinds of drama. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Tonya admitted that her husband needed her perspective to truly bring Nola Darling's character to life in an honest and approachable way — especially when it involved more intimate scenes. "We had a conversation about what it [the sex scenes] should really look like," Lewis Lee told Entertainment Weekly. "Because it's coming from Nola's point of view: How are we showing that? Men — they look at women. But if this is really through a woman's eyes, we need to see how she's intimate with her lovers. That was a conversation that we had, and I know that some of the direction was informed by that for sure."