Twenty-five years later, "Do the Right Thing" still resonates

Twenty-five years ago, Director Spike Lee released his third film, "Do the Right Thing."

The movie garnered two Oscar nominations, and much controversy for exposing the complexities of racial tensions. It even made a first impression on the first couple, reports "CBS This Morning" co-anchor Gayle King.

"Sorry we can't be with you today but we wanted to congratulate Spike and all of you on the 25th anniversary of 'Do the Right Thing,'" Barack Obama said in a video message played before a recent screening of the film.

"'Do the Right Thing' was actually the first movie we saw together on our first official date," Michelle Obama said.

Roger Ebert said that the film "comes closer to reflecting the current state of race relations in America than any other movie of our time."

"I was just trying to tell a story," Lee told CBS News. "But one of the criticisms of 'Do the Right Thing' is that the failure of the film was that I didn't have the answer for racism. Originally we were gonna do the film at Paramount Pictures. They didn't like the ending, they wanted Sal and Mookie to hug, but I wasn't having that."

Aside from the iconic finale, Lee also made an impact with the film's opening: a dance sequence starring Rosie Perez.

"Well, that came from my mother. My father didn't like movies so I was always my mother's movie date. So my mother took me to see 'Bye, Bye, Birdie,' with Ann Margaret," Lee said. "So that's where it comes from."

The film also marked a milestone in Lee's directing career.

"The biggest thing about 'Do the Right Thing' is that this is the first time I felt comfortable working with actors," Lee said. "I did not feel comfortable working with actors in 'She's Gotta Have It.' Same thing on 'School Daze' because I didn't have the experience. 'Do the Right Thing' is the first film I felt comfortable as a director."

But Lee says that despite any reservations he may have ever had, he knew he was destined for fame.

"Well, look, I'm not Superman. Everybody has their doubts, but I'll tell you this: fifth grade, I still have notebooks where all I did was practice my autograph," Lee said.

Lee was also sure that if he became a director, he would work with black actors to better diversify Hollywood.

"I knew that if I ever got an opportunity to hire people, I was gonna hire qualified people of color. And that's the thing when people talk about Affirmative Action, you think, like, they go in any corner and, like, pickin' up the first Joe Schmoe that's black or Hispanic. No. If you're not qualified, I'm not hiring you," Lee said.

The film is as resonant as ever, even 25 years later, and it's an achievement Lee is truly proud of.

"I think most artists, not all, but most artists wanna make work the stands the test of time," Lee said. "And this film does."

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