Tracy Camilla Johns and Spike Lee in She’s Gotta Have It
40 Acres & a Mule Filmworks

It's been 30 years since we were introduced to Nola Darling, a sex-positive, independent woman in Brooklyn, N.Y., who was trying to pick the right suitor in Spike Lee’s feature-film directorial debut, She’s Gotta Have It. There was polite Jamie, self-absorbed Greer and please-baby-baby-please Mars, all vying for her attention. Thirty years after Lee’s feature-film debut, find out what Tracy Camilla Johns has been up to, who went on to produce this year's Academy Awards and who is a published author.

Spike Lee, Then

Mars Blackmon: Please baby, please baby, please baby, baby, baby, please!

Spike Lee, Now

The filmmaker has come a long way since his feature-film debut. He's been nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Original Screenplay for Do the Right Thing and Best Documentary Feature for 4 Little Girls. He no longer appears in all the films he directs, and he often recruits other writers to scribe them (Miracle at St. Anna, Inside Man). In 2014 Deadline reported that Lee was adapting She's Gotta Have It as a series for Showtime. No word as of late on whether it's still happening.

Joie Lee, Then

Lee played Clorinda Bradford, Nola's old roommate. Spike's sister later appeared in many of his films, including School Daze, Do the Right Thing, Mo' Better Blues and Crooklyn.

Joie Lee, Now

In the 2000s Lee began writing and appearing in non-Spike Lee joints, such as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and All the Invisible Children. In 2010 she appeared in her brother Cinque's film, Window on Your Present. In 2014 she appeared in Spike's film Da Sweet Blood of Jesus.

S. Epatha Merkerson, Then

Dr. Jamison: Your friend, if you choose to call him that, confuses a healthy sex drive with a sickness.

Nola: I'm no addict.

Dr. Jamison:  … If what you want is total female sexuality, be honest. The beautiful sex organ is between your ears, not between your legs.

S. Epatha Merkerson, Now

Merkerson appeared in nearly 400 episodes of Law & Order as Lt. Anita Van Buren before exiting the show in 2010. She's been nominated for two Tony Awards and has won Obie, Emmy, SAG and Golden Globe statues. Most recently, she has appeared on TV shows Chicago Med and Chicago P.D. She is set to portray Marvin Gaye's mother, Alberta, in an upcoming biopic.

Renata Cobbs, Then

Shawn, Greer's girlfriend in Nola's nightmare: There goes that homewrecker. I don't blame Greer. I blame her.

Renata Cobbs Fletcher, Now

Fletcher is the vice president for public policy and community partnerships at Public/Private Ventures. In 2008 she wrote a blog entry for the Huffington Post titled, "How Much Progress Can We Make With Our Mothers in Prison?" In 2015 she was named the president and CEO of Northern Children's Services, an organization that supports the development of healthy children.

Cheryl Singleton, Then

Toby, Jamie's girlfriend in Nola's nightmare: I know she's trying to steal my man. If Nola had loved Jamie, it would have been different. It's sisters like her who are corrupting our men.

Cheryl Singleton, Now

Since She's Gotta Have It, Singleton has taken her acting skills to the stage. She played in the New Repertory Theatre's production of Passing Strange, as the main character's mother, in Boston in 2011. In 2015 she appeared in Intimate Apparel, a play by Lynn Nottage, in Boston.

Monty Ross, Then

Dog 1: You're so fine, baby, I'd drink a tub of your bathwater.

Ross and Lee met as undergraduates at Morehouse College and have worked together since 1981. Ross co-produced several films with Lee: School Daze, Do the Right Thing, Mo' Better Blues, Malcolm X, Crooklyn and Clockers.

Monty Ross, Now

After She's Gotta Have It, Ross appeared in Malcolm X and Mo' Better Blues. He has produced several films in the last three decades, including Keep the Faith Baby, Clockers, Crooklyn and Jungle Fever.

Tracy Camilla Johns, Then

Nola Darling: It's really about control, my body, my mind. Who was going to own it? Them? Or me? I'm not a one-man woman. Bottom line.


In her film debut, Johns played the confident and sexually independent Nola Darling, a woman who juggled three men with three very different personalities—and changed assumptions about black women's sexuality.

Erik Dellums, Then

Dog 3: I just want to rock your world.

Erik Dellums, Now

You'll probably recognize Dellums' distinctive voice, if not necessarily his face. He had a recurring role in HBO's The Wire as Dr. Randall Frazier and in Homicide: Life on the Street as Luther Mahoney. In 2013 he appeared as a doctor on an episode of Showtime's Homeland.

Reginald Hudlin, Then

Dog 4: Baby, it's got to be you and me.

Reginald Hudlin, Now

Since appearing in She's Gotta Have It, Hudlin has directed House Party, Boomerang, The Ladies Man and an episode of Modern Family, to name a few of his behind-the-scenes projects. Most recently, he was one of the producers of this year's Academy Awards. He also directed two episodes of ABC's short-lived comedy Uncle Buck.

Eric Payne, Then

Dog 5: You may not realize it tonight, but you're sending out some very strong vibes. May I continue? You're lonely. You're alone. You're sad. You're confused. You're horny. You see, you need a man like me.

Eric Payne, Now

Payne has enjoyed a steady TV career since his role as a "Dog"—from recurring roles on My So-Called Life to ER to Boston Legal. In 2013 he appeared in The Dark Party, opposite Kadeem Hardison.

Ernest R. Dickerson, Then

Dickerson was Lee's go-to cinematographer who worked with the director on almost every one of his films up to Malcolm X. In a brief appearance in She's Gotta Have It, Dickerson's character, Dog 8, bellows, "I love you" to Nola.

Ernest R. Dickerson, Now

Shortly after his first and only on-screen appearance as Dog 8, he made his directorial debut in the cult classic Juice. Dickerson has directed several episodes of popular TV shows, including Treme, The Wire, Weeds, Dexter and Lincoln Heights. He has directed nearly a dozen episodes of AMC's The Walking Dead.

Fab 5 Freddy, Then

Dog 10: Look, baby. Let's go to my house right now. Let's do the wild thing. Let's get loose.

Fab 5 Freddy, Now

Already a famous figure on the New York hip-hop scene when he appeared in Lee's film, Freddy made a few more on-screen cameos after the movie: New Jack City, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Rachel Getting Married, to name a few. He's perhaps best known as the first VJ to host Yo! MTV Raps. See his latest artistic work on his website.

Tracy Camilla Johns, Now

After roles in TV series Family Ties and Snoops and the films Mo' Better Blues and New Jack City, Johns didn't make another on-screen appearance for another 20 years. She came back to the screen in 2012 as Mother Darling in another Spike Lee joint, Red Hook Summer.

Tommy Redmond Hicks, Then

Jamie Overstreet: Nola, I don't want to chance not seeing you again. Whatever you want to do, I'll do. Wherever you want to go, I'll take you. Will you see me?

Tommy Redmond Hicks, Now

Since She's Gotta Have It, Hicks has appeared in several TV series and movies, including The Five Heartbeats, Meteor Man and Charmed. He is currently in the early stages of filming As the Freak Takes You, according to IMDb.

John Canada Terrell, Then

Greer Childs: If you weren't fine, I wouldn't even deal with you.

John Canada Terrell, Now

Terrell appeared in a few of your favorite early-1990s movies—Mo' Better Blues, The Five Heartbeats and Boomerang—and then he went on a nearly 10-year hiatus before appearing in an episode of Law & Order in 2000. Since then he's taken on several roles in independent films, including Leaf, White Men Can't Rap and Myra's Angel. Watch as he talks about his role as Greer Childs in a 2008 interview

Raye Dowell, Then

Opal Gilstrap, Nola's lesbian friend, would do anything to get a little bit closer to Ms. Darling. At one of our favorite blogs, Shadow and Act, writer Brandon Wilson depicted Opal as Spike's worst female character: "Opal hates men. She seems to have one thing on her mind: getting Nola in bed. … Opal is nothing but a stereotype of the rapacious lesbian trying to recruit. Nothing more to the character."

Raye Dowell, Now

Dowell appeared in two Spike Lee joints after her role in She's Gotta Have It: Mo' Better Blues and Malcolm X. She also had a role in Boomerang with fellow She's Gotta Have It cast mate John Canada Terrell. After a cameo in Living Single, she began producing films, including Virgin, Out of the Woods and Hounddog. In 2013 she produced The Reel Story: 12 Years a Slave, an inside look at the critically acclaimed film, which aired on BET. She also had a child with Forest Whitaker in 1990.