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How Spike Lee Used ‘Method Chaos’ And Separated Dark and Lightskin Women To Create School Daze

School Daze is an ’80s cult classic film by American film director, producer, screenwriter, and actor Spike Lee. It was Lee’s second film following “She’s Gotta Have It” and was a groundbreaking movie as it depicted life on a historically black college campus and was based on Lee’s own experience at Morehouse. It is described as “a story about undergraduates in a fraternity and sorority clashing with some of their classmates at a historically black college during homecoming weekend.”

Through the college lens, the movie also explores themes of colorism, classism, and women’s self-esteem as it unpacked the divide between light-skinned and dark-skinned women of color. The Gamma Rays sorority features mostly fair-skinned women with European features, while their non-Greek classmates were mostly darker women with curly hair. Throughout the film, both groups of women clashed over their varied complexions and hair textures. The cast of women featured Tisha Campbell, AJ Johnson, Jasmine Guy, Cassi Davis, and Kyme.  The movie was a big deal for the women, who were barely being cast in films as it was, and they took great pride in bringing these stories to the big screen. It was only Tisha Campbell’s third film following Little Shop of Horrors. 

In 2018, Spike spoke about the film’s impact and how it shed a positive light on HBCUs. “30 years later, people still come up to me and say, ‘Spike, you are the reason I went to a black school. I didn’t even know there were black schools. You are the reason I went to college. You are the reason I am in this job,” Lee recalled. “That film really changed people’s lives.”

Spike Lee graduated from Morehouse College in 1979. He shot the film a few years after graduating right on his campus in the historic Atlanta University Center. The film was one of the first to be shot in Atlanta, a city that has gone on to become the mecca for black Hollywood.

Tisha Campbell played Jane Toussaint in School Daze. She was the female lead of the film and dated Giancarlo Esposito’s character Julian. Campbell’s role is most iconic due to the musical number performed in the film. She sang “Be Alone Tonight” at the school coronation. The performance also featured Jasmine Guy’s Dina. 

Tisha Campbell has recently spoken about her role in School Daze and how being a light-skinned actress in Hollywood made her experience very different than her counterparts. Tisha says that while filming School Daze, Spike Lee purposely created friction behind the scenes in hopes of bringing out more authentic performances from the actors. He placed Tisha and all the light-skinned women in a hotel with all the male cast, while the darker girls all lived in a motel. She called it “method chaos.” 

Tisha understands how she’s benefitted from this. She went on to say about colorism, “No, it’s true, and it’s real. There is a thing of light-skinned privilege. It is very real. That people have had to deal with. We are just now celebrating melanin. We are just now coming into understanding how beautiful black truly is, our own people. You know what I mean?”

John Davidson
John Davidsonhttps://dailyreports71.com
John Davidson is a California native who enjoys hip hop music, skiing and traveling international. Davidson graduated from USC majoring in Journalism.


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