He said he supports Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination.
Dressed in a sweater, jeans and ball cap, Lee spoke of growing up in New York City, being a fairly average student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, and becoming a director.
"At first, I didn't know that people actually made movies," Lee said of his childhood. "We would go to the movies on the weekend and stay until our parents dragged us out.
"I didn't decide to become a filmmaker until I went to college. But I did realize that the richness of the African-American experience that I saw on the corner every day was not on the screen."
Last week, Lee was in Columbus to receive the $50,000 Wexner Prize that recognizes innovation, quality and integrity among artists.