Meet Tonya Lewis Lee, wife of writer/producer Spike Lee. Tonya met Spike in 1992 at a Congressional Black Caucus dinner. In a 2004 interview with Avenue Magazine, Tonya said, “We walked past each other. He 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?” Spike was there promoting ne of his acclaimed films, Malcolm X, which starred Denzel Washington. Tonya remembers thinking it was strange for him to be so animated given his enormous public image, but apparently, he was smitten at first sight. One year later they were married. Tonya and Spike exchanged wedding vows in October of 2003 at Riverside Church in New York City. The couple has two children together. Their daughter Satchel Lewis Lee was born in December of 1994. She was named after legendary black baseball star Satchel Paige. Their son Jackson was born in May of 1997.
When Tonya, an attorney and concert level pianist, met Spike Lee, she was practicing corporate law at the time. Tonya has always had a passion for wanting to unleash her more creative side. At that time, marrying Spike Lee offered her both the financial freedom and the inspiration to unleash her creative side more fully. After the marriage, she gave up practicing law, and poured all of her energy into creating a prototype for a magazine on black entertainment and fashion; she also started writing.
Tonya Lewis Lee’s accomplishments:
Since 1993, Tonya Lewis Lee has become an author and award-winning tv producer. Tonya is the lead spokesperson for The Office of Minority Health’s “A Healthy Baby Begins With You” campaign. The mother of two and wife of acclaimed director Spike Lee; she has garnered national attention for her work, which includes the bestselling novel, “Gotham Diaries.” She has also served as executive producer of the 2004 Noggin/The N documentary “I Sit Where I Want: The Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education,” for which she received both Beacon and Parents’ Choice awards. A lawyer by trade, Ms. Lee practiced law at the firm of Nixon Hargrave Devans & Doyle, where she primarily serviced Gannett Co. Inc. on corporate and First Amendment issues. She transitioned from practicing law to writing and TV production. From 1998 to 2002, she produced Black History Month video shorts for Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite which featured leading entertainers such as Gregory Hines, Savion Glover, Whoopi Goldberg and Queen Latifah. In 2002, she and husband Spike Lee co-authored the children’s book Please Baby Please, illustrated by Kadir Nelson. In 2005, she continued the series with Please Puppy Please. Ms. Lee also served as the executive producer for the critically-acclaimed TV mini-series “Miracle’s Boys,” aired on Noggin/The N in 2005. Outspoken on the issues of women and race, Ms. Lee has written for magazines such as Glamour, Gotham, Avenue, and O at Home and appeared on Lifetime television and “Good Morning America.” She currently serves on the boards of both the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Children for Children Foundation. She is also an advisory board member of The Bearden Foundation. Ms. Lee is a member of the New York Bar. Ms. Lee received her bachelor’s from Sarah Lawrence College in 1988 and her juris doctorate from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1991. Lee lives in New York City with her husband and two children, ages 12 and 14.
Just as Spike lee is known for being a strong activist, Tonya is also concerned about the African-American community as well. Peep the video below of a Public Service Announcement in which Tonya is addressing the higher infant mortality rate among African-Americans.
To read more about Tonya Lewis Lee, visit her website here.