25 years ago, Black Reel Award winning writer/director opened a window into his college experience with his follow up to his debut, She’s Gotta Have with explosive fraternity musical drama, School Daze. The film announced the style that Lee would exhibit over the course of his career and became a cult classic.
The film gave Laurence Fishburne his first leading role and also co-starred Giancarlo Esposito and Tisha Campbell-Martin as well as an early performance by Samuel L. Jackson. Based in part on Spike Lee’s experiences at Atlanta’s Morehouse College, Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University, the film is a story about fraternity and sorority members clashing with other students at a historically black college during homecoming weekend. It also touches upon issues of real and perceived racism related to skin tone bias and hair quality within the African-American community. School Daze was released on February 12, 1988.
Be Alone Tonight clip from School Daze
Many people were unaware that Vanessa L. Williams was originally considered for the role of “Jane Toussaint,” and Phyllis Yvonne Stickney for the role of “Rachel Meadows.” However, due to her recent dethroning from her Miss America title because of controversy over nude photos published in Penthouse (magazine), Williams turned down the role. She cited a sex scene between Jane and Julian (Dean Big Brother Almighty) (which became well known) and said she wanted to distance herself from that image. Stickney left the project over “artistic differences.”
As the film reaches it’s 25th Anniversary, it is now eligible for induction into the Black Reel Awards Registry of Honor. This year’s inductees will be announced later this year.
Check out the gallery below: