'Time Stopped': Spike Lee Ditched His Date After Laying Eyes on His Future Wife

Spike Lee shared the unconventional first date he invited his wife, Tonya Lewis Lee, to more than 30 years ago

Published Time: 15.05.2024 - 08:31:08 Modified Time: 15.05.2024 - 08:31:08

Spike Lee shared the unconventional first date he invited his wife, Tonya Lewis Lee, to more than 30 years ago.

During a recent interview on the Kelly Corrigan Wonders podcast, the Oscar winner, 67, recalled how he first met his wife, 58, in September 1992 and then revealed their unconventional first date.

The two met in Washington, D.C., at the Congressional Black Caucus, said Lee, clarifying that the event was screening a trailer for his film Malcolm X. Lewis Lee went on behalf of her father, who was the treasurer of Philip Morris at the time.

“So I had a date that night,” Lee began. “So I'm going to the restroom and I see this woman coming to me — and I know it might sound corny, but it’s true — time stopped.”

“I said, ‘Damn!’ Laughs And so later on, she said the same thing. So we just looked at each other and then couldn't see each other anymore,” the Do The Right Thing director recalled. 

"So the night is going on. You know, I’m there, I got to introduce the trailer for Malcolm X," Lee said. “And it's time to go, so we’re leaving — Tonya has her version, I have my version, and there’s the real version ...”

“You know what Tonya’s not here, so you tell your version,” Corrigan quipped.

“I'm going down the escalator, and she's going up the escalator,” Lee continued. “So I'm going down the escalator, I gotta think quick. So tell the person I’m with, ‘I think I left my Montblanc pen upstairs,’ you know, something like that.” 

“So I make a U-turn, go back on the escalator and find her and ask her for, you know, her number,” revealed Lee. He then explained that he called her later that week, and he invited her as his date to “Madonna's Sex book party,” which wa -

s not going to be in Washington.

The director explained that Lewis Lee was working at a law firm at the time. When she headed back to Washington D.C., “everyone” in her office had seen her on the news “at the book party,” Lee recalled, joking how she “was busted.”

Meanwhile, according to Lewis Lee, the director spotted her in the crowd and approached her, showing his interest through a series of questions.

“We walked past each other. Spike circled back around and proceeded to give me the third degree," she previously said, per Essence. "'Are you an actress? A model? A singer? Who are you here with? What do you do? Do you have a boyfriend?'"

Within weeks, the filmmaker and lawyer were photographed at Lee’s Malcolm X movie premiere in November 1992.

Later in his podcast interview, Lee praised Lewis Lee's Emmy-nominated 2022 documentary Aftershock, which tells the story of two families whose lives are changed after two young women die in childbirth. Lee said he is "very proud" of her work.

"She's a filmmaker in her own right, and went to Sarah Lawrence undergrad, UVA Law School," Lee said, adding that Lewis Lee is doing "what she always wanted" to be a "greater person. She's doing that now."

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The couple then married just a year after their first meeting, on Oct. 2, 1993, in a church in New York City.

The pair share two children, Satchel, 29, and Jackson, 23.

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