Decades Later, “Soul Man” Actress Oddly Blasts Spike Lee Over Film’s Black-Face Backlash

Posted On : February 4, 2023
(inset photo) Spike Lee; (L) actors, C. Thomas Howell (in Black-face) and Rae Dawn Chong in scene from “Soul Man”movie.

Remember the 1986 film, Soul Man? For those who aren’t familiar with it and it’s controversy, it was a film about a White dude who dressed in blackface, to pose as a Black student at Harvard University. The premise behind his Black ambitions was so he could earn a scholarship that was only intended for African Americans.

Embed from Getty Images

Though the film was somewhat of a small change success- produced for $4.5 million, but grossing $27 million at the box office- the controversy it sparked was intense. As y’all can imagine, many African Americans, organizations such as the NAACP, and director, Spike Lee, had much to say about the blackface, the cultural appropriation, racial insensitivity, etc…and understandably so.

Scene from “Soul Man”

On the flip side, there were also many who enjoyed the film and the love story within it. That brings us to actress, Rae Dawn Chong, who played actor, C. Thomas Howell’s, ‘love interest’ in the movie. She apparently was pissed off with Spike Lee when he first spoke his mind about Soul Man decades ago, and 30 years later, during a 2016 interview with The Wrap, her anger was just as potent.

See What Spike Lee Said To Cause Chong To Go Off

Embed from Getty Images

Spike Lee’s Conversation With Pres. Obama Re-ignited Chong’s Anger Years Later
Spike Lee once revealed in an interview, that he and our forever President, Barack Obama, became cool, and that during one of their conversations, Obama made a confession. He told Spike about his first date with former First Lady, Michelle Obama, which once again prompted Spike’s honest opinion:

“Actually, Barack told me the first date he took Michelle to was ‘Do The Right Thing.’ I said,
Thank God … otherwise you would have taken her to ‘Soul Man’,” Spike recalled.

That did not sit well with Rae Dawn Chong, and she made that VERY clear in her interview…

Rae Dawn Chong Slammed Spike Lee For “Soul Man” Backlash
At the time of “Soul Man’s 1986 release, Spike apparently spoke out against it back then as well…and Rae didn’t like that whatsoever.

Via The Wrap: “It was only controversial because Spike Lee made a thing of it,” she said during a recent interview. “He’d never seen the movie and he just jumped all over it,” she added, recalling that it was a time when Lee was coming up in his career and making headlines for being outspoken.

“He was just starting and pulling everything down in his wake,” Chong asserted. “If you watch the movie, it’s really making White people look stupid. … It is adorable and it didn’t deserve it,” said Chong of the movie.

BUT PEEP What Else Chong Had To Say About Spike…And the NAACP…

Chong Accuses Lee Of Calling Her ‘Too White’ In The Film
Chong- who’s mother is Black-Canadian and father (actor, Tommy Chong) is Chinese and Irish- also accused Spike Lee of taking jabs at her lack of ‘Blackness’ at the time that Soul Man was released:

“I always tried to be an actor who was doing a part that was a character versus what I call ‘blackting,’ or playing my race, because I knew that I would fail because I was mixed,” she explained. “I was the black actor for sure, but I didn’t lead with my epidermis, and that offended people like Spike Lee, I think. You’re either militant or you’re not and he decided to just attack,” she told TheWrap.

Why She’s ‘Never Forgiven’ Spike

“I’ve never forgiven him for that because it really hurt me,” said Chong. “I didn’t realize [at the time] that not pushing the afro-centric agenda was going to bite me. When you start to do well people start to say you’re a Tom [as in Uncle Tom] because you’re acceptable.”

Chong Disses NAACP For ‘Following Spike’s Lead’…
Chong says she firmly stands up for pro-Black causes and such. However, as far as the NAACP’s public bashing of Soul Man, Chong blames them for following Spike Lee’s lead back in the day:

“The NAACP — trust me, they’re so spineless. We have so many problems. Where the f— have they been for 60 years?”