The Info List - Lee Daniels

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Lee Louis Daniels (born December 24, 1959) is an American producer, director and writer. He produced Monster's Ball
Monster's Ball
and directed Precious, which received six Academy Award
Academy Award
nominations, including Best Director; it won two of the awards. In 2012, Daniels directed The Butler, a historical fiction drama featuring an ensemble cast portraying unique events on the 20th century presidents of the United States at the White House. Daniels is also a co-creator, executive producer, and director of the television series Empire and Star, which debuted in 2015 and 2016, respectively.


1 Early life 2 Career 3 Controversy 4 Personal life 5 Filmography

5.1 Film 5.2 Television 5.3 Himself

6 References 7 External links

Early life[edit] Lee Louis Daniels was born on December 24, 1959[1] in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Clara Watson and William L. Daniels.[2] Daniels' younger sister Leah is a casting director.[3] He graduated from Radnor High School
Radnor High School
in 1978,[4] and then Lindenwood University
Lindenwood University
in St. Charles, Missouri.[5] Daniels couldn't afford film school, so he started in a liberal arts college in Missouri but realized it wasn't for him, and started working as a receptionist in a nursing agency in California. Realizing he could do it on his own, he quit the job and started his own agency. He sold the company and went to work casting actors using his skills from "casting" nurses.[6][7] Daniels began his career in entertainment as a casting director and manager after a chance meeting with a Hollywood producer, working on such projects as Under the Cherry Moon
Under the Cherry Moon
and Purple Rain. He continued managing talent. The documentary My Big Break
My Big Break
features Daniels early in his career when he was managing actor Wes Bentley, who starred as Ricky Fitts in American Beauty. In the documentary, Daniels comments on Bentley's reluctance to capitalize on his newfound celebrity status.[citation needed] Daniels' father, Philadelphia
police officer William, was, as Daniels says, "killed in the line of duty" when Daniels was a teenager in 1975.[8][9] Daniels has been very open about his father being physically abusive towards him, and even trying "to beat it [being gay] out of me".[10] Career[edit] Monster's Ball, the debut production of Lee Daniels
Lee Daniels
Entertainment, was a critical and box office success. Halle Berry
Halle Berry
won the Oscar for Best Actress; the film was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay.[11] Daniels' 2004 production The Woodsman, starring Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick and Mos Def, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.[12] It went on to garner three nominations at the 2005 Independent Spirit Awards, the CICAE Arthouse Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, the Jury Prize at the Deauville International Film Festival and a "Special Mention for Excellence in Filmmaking" award from the National Board of Review.[13]

Daniels at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.

Former president Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
persuaded Daniels to produce public service announcements to encourage young people of color to vote. The campaign was launched in March 2004 and featured Grammy winners actor/musician LL Cool J
LL Cool J
and Alicia Keys.[14] Daniels' first directorial effort, 2006's Shadowboxer, debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. It starred Helen Mirren, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Stephen Dorff, Vanessa Ferlito, Mo'Nique, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Macy Gray.[15] It was nominated for Best New Director at the San Sebastian Film Festival.[16] Daniels' 2008 production Tennessee was written by Russell Schaumberg and directed by Aaron Woodley (Rhinoceros Eyes), the film is about two brothers, played by Adam Rothenberg and Ethan Peck, who travel from New Mexico to Tennessee to search for their estranged father. Along the way they meet Krystal (Mariah Carey), an aspiring singer who flees her controlling husband (Lance Reddick) to join them on their journey.[17] His 2009 film Precious told the story of an obese, illiterate, 16-year-old girl (Gabourey Sidibe) who lives in a Section 8 tenement in Harlem. She has been impregnated twice by her father, Carl, and suffers long-term physical, sexual and emotional abuse from her unemployed mother, Mary (Mo'Nique). Carey appeared as a social worker. The film screened at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival
Sundance Film Festival
and went on to garner widespread acclaim.[18] Daniels was nominated for the Academy Award
Academy Award
for Best Director, and the film received a Best Picture nomination. It was a financial success grossing $63 million worldwide against a budget of $10 million.[19] In 2010 Grace Hightower
Grace Hightower
De Niro, who appeared in Precious, presented Daniels with the Pratt Institute's Creative Spirit Award.[20] Daniels directed The Paperboy (2012), based on the 1995 novel by American author Pete Dexter who penned the original script which was further developed by Daniels, and starring Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron, John Cusack, and Nicole Kidman. The film competed for the Palme d'Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.[21][22] He directed the historical fiction drama film The Butler (2013), starring Forest Whitaker, John Cusack, Jane Fonda, Mariah Carey, Terrence Howard, Alan Rickman, and Oprah Winfrey. The Butler received positive reviews from critics and grossed over a $100 million in the United States against a budget of $30 million.[23] Empire, a television series created by Daniels, premiered on January 7, 2015. Daniels directed the first episode and co-wrote it with The Butler screenwriter Danny Strong. The series stars Terrence Howard
Terrence Howard
and Taraji P. Henson, and is about a family's music empire.[citation needed] In 2015, Daniels was listed as one of the nine runners-up for The Advocate's Person of the Year.[24] In June 2016, the Human Rights Campaign
Human Rights Campaign
released a video in tribute to the victims of the 2016 Orlando gay nightclub shooting; in the video, Daniels and others told the stories of the people killed there.[25][26] On December 2, 2016, Daniels received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the television industry.[27] On February 8, 2018, amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research paid tribute to Daniels at their 20th annual amfAR Gala New York at Cipriani Wall Street. Award-winning actress, singer, and songwriter Queen Latifah presented Lee Daniels
Lee Daniels
with the amfAR Award of Courage, describing his past work with HIV/AIDS patients. She also shared that as a gifted creative force, he creates “unfailingly human” characters, who are “often striving to rise above difficult circumstances.” In his acceptance speech, Lee Daniels
Lee Daniels
spoke about a generation lost to AIDS, and said that the crisis had taken at least 40 of his personal friends. In the fight against AIDS, he said it is important to “step up when it matters.”[28] Controversy[edit] On September 16, 2015, Daniels was asked about actor Terrence Howard saying that his first wife "was talking to me real strong, and I lost my mind and slapped her in front of the kids" and that he got physical with his second wife too in a September 2015 Rolling Stone interview.[29] Daniels excused the domestic violence and called Howard "that poor boy." Then he said that Howard hasn’t done anything that Sean Penn
Sean Penn
hasn’t done.[30] A week later, Daniels was sued by Penn in a $10 million defamation lawsuit. The lawsuit states that "Daniels falsely equates Penn with Howard...Penn (unlike Howard) has never been arrested, much less convicted, for domestic violence, as his ex-wives (including Madonna) would confirm and attest."[31][32][33] Penn dropped the lawsuit in May 2016 after Daniels retracted his statement and apologized.[34] Personal life[edit]

Daniels with his nephew and niece at the 2007 world premiere of Spider-Man 3.

Daniels lives in Manhattan. He is openly gay.[35] He and his then-partner, casting director Billy Hopkins, adopted Daniels' biological niece and nephew, Clara and Liam.[36][37] Hopkins and Daniels later separated.[38] In 2015, Daniels clarified his sexuality by stating that despite being gay men, both he and "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett
Jussie Smollett
are sexually fluid. [39]

Jussie and I both share the same feeling that, yes, even though we are gay, we’re sexual human beings...And we do occasionally want to sleep with a woman. [Laughs] Maybe once every 10 or 15 years, but it happens! And there are a lot of people who don’t want to hear about that. It’s such a complicated conversation. It's not necessarily the body one is attracted to. You can be sexually attracted to the spirit, the energy, the life force in another person. We're showing life on Empire, and I won't apologize for it.

Filmography[edit] Film[edit]

Year Title Credited as

Director Writer Producer Actor

1986 A Little Off Mark


2001 Monster's Ball


2004 The Woodsman


Agnes und seine Brüder


2005 Shadowboxer Y


2008 Tennessee


2009 Precious Y


2012 The Paperboy Y Y Y

2013 Lee Daniels' The Butler Y


TBA Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said?[40][41]



Year Title Notes

2015–present Empire Co-creator, executive producer, director, writer

2016-present Star Co-creator, executive producer, director, writer


Year Title

2009 My Big Break

2010 The Black List: Volume 3


^ " Lee Daniels
Lee Daniels
biography". TV Guide. Retrieved March 17, 2014.  ^ "Lee Daniels: Biography from Answers. com". Answers Corporation. Retrieved August 21, 2013.  ^ "Leah Daniels profile". IMDb.com. Retrieved August 21, 2013.  ^ "Radnor Alumni Council/Notable Radnor Alumni". Schoolwires, Inc. Retrieved August 21, 2013.  ^ Snodgrass, Mary Ellen. "Lee Louis Daniels: Biography". Gale Contemporary Black Biography. Retrieved September 3, 2007.  ^ "Iconoclasts (2005– ) : Lenny Kravitz and Lee Daniels". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2016-12-03.  ^ Fresh Air from WHYY. "A Director's 'Precious' Project". NPR. Retrieved August 21, 2012.  ^ "Out100: Lee Daniels". out.com. Retrieved 2016-01-14.  ^ "Reflections for Corporal William L. Daniels..." Officer Down Memorial Page. The Officer Down Memorial Page, Inc. Retrieved August 21, 2013.  ^ "'Precious' Director Lee Daniels
Lee Daniels
Says His Dad Tried Beating The Gay Out of Him And He Loves Him For It!". Moguldom Media Group. Retrieved August 21, 2013.  ^ "Exclusive: Precious Director Lee Daniels". comingsoon.ne. October 30, 2009. Retrieved September 20, 2013.  ^ "The Woodsman". boxoffice.com. December 24, 2004. Retrieved September 20, 2013.  ^ "The Woodsman (2004)". New York Times. Retrieved September 20, 2013.  ^ " Lee Daniels
Lee Daniels
on 'The Butler', Working with Oprah, Trayvon Martin, and Race in America". Daily Beast. August 12, 2013. Retrieved September 20, 2013.  ^ "In 'Shadowboxer,' Murder Runs in the Family (and It's a Turn-On in a Lover)". The New York Times. July 21, 2006. Retrieved September 20, 2013.  ^ "ShadowBoxer". sansebastianfestival.com. Retrieved September 20, 2013.  ^ " Lee Daniels
Lee Daniels
Explains Why 'Mariah Got The Role Meant for Janet Jackson'". June 14, 2009. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved September 20, 2013.  ^ McCarthy, Todd (December 3, 2008). "Sundance unveils competition lineup". Variety. Retrieved November 5, 2009.  ^ "Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire". Box office mojo. Retrieved September 20, 2013.  ^ 20th Anniversary of Black Alumni of Pratt: A Celebration of the Creative Spirit, Events, Black Tie International, May 26, 2010. ^ "2012 Official Selection". Cannes. Retrieved April 19, 2012.  ^ " Cannes Film Festival
Cannes Film Festival
2012 line-up announced". timeout.com. Retrieved April 19, 2012.  ^ "Lee Daniels' The Butler". Metacritic. Retrieved September 20, 2013.  ^ Advocate.com Editors. "Person of the Year: The Finalists". Advocate.com. Retrieved 2015-11-06. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link) ^ "49 Celebrities Honor 49 Victims of Orlando Tragedy". Hrc.org. Retrieved 2016-06-30.  ^ Rothaus, Steve (June 12, 2016). "Pulse Orlando shooting scene a popular LGBT club where employees, patrons 'like family'". The Miami Herald. Retrieved June 15, 2016.  ^ "'Empire' producer Lee Daniels
Lee Daniels
receives Hollywood Walk of Fame star". Los Angeles Daily News. December 2, 2016. Retrieved December 7, 2016.  ^ "amfAR :: In The Spotlight :: LEE DANIELS AND STEFANO TONCHI HONORED AT ANNUAL FASHION WEEK amfAR GALA NEW YORK :: The Foundation for AIDS Research :: HIV / AIDS Research". www.amfar.org. Retrieved 2018-04-05.  ^ Hedegaard, Erik (2015-09-14). "Page 5 of Terrence Howard's Dangerous Mind". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2015-10-06.  ^ "'Empire's' "Batshit Crazy" Behind-the-Scenes Drama: On the Set of TV's Hottest Show". Hollywood Reporter. 2015-09-16. Retrieved 2015-10-06.  ^ " Sean Penn
Sean Penn
files $10 million suit against Lee Daniels". CNN.com. 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2015-10-06.  ^ Eriq Gardner (2015-09-22). " Sean Penn
Sean Penn
Files $10 Million Defamation Lawsuit Against 'Empire' Co-Creator Lee Daniels". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2015-10-06.  ^ "Sean Penn". Documentcloud.org. Retrieved 2015-10-06.  ^ Gardner, Eriq. " Sean Penn
Sean Penn
Wins Apology from Lee Daniels
Lee Daniels
in Defamation Settlement". Retrieved September 28, 2016.  ^ " Lee Daniels
Lee Daniels
came out as gay man 'because I loathed my dad so much'". NY Daily News. 2013-11-14. Retrieved 2015-11-06.  ^ Boykin, Kieth (March 29, 2006). "Shadowboxing with Lee Daniels". keithboykin.com. Archived from the original on August 5, 2007. Retrieved August 2, 2007.  ^ Lynn Hirschberg (October 21, 2009). "The Audacity of 'Precious'". The New York Times. Retrieved November 5, 2009.  ^ "The Love Issue - Love and Protection - Lee Daniels, Filmmaker and Jahil Fisher, Stylist". Out.com. January 12, 2015. Retrieved December 30, 2016.  ^ "Empire Sex Scandal: Lee Daniels
Lee Daniels
and Jussie Smollett
Jussie Smollett
Defend That Shocking Hook-Up". TV Insider. Retrieved 2017-07-28.  ^ "Lee Daniels' Richard Pryor biopic to star Mike Epps". BBC News.com. Retrieved August 28, 2014.  ^ Marc Maron (September 18, 2017). "Episode 847 - Lee Daniels". wtfpod.com (Podcast). 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lee Daniels.

Lee Daniels
Lee Daniels
Entertainment website Lee Daniels
Lee Daniels
on IMDb NPR interview Blackfilm.com interview IndependentFilm.com interview Gay Life biography

v t e

Lee Daniels


(2005) Precious (2009) The Paperboy (2012) Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013)


Monster's Ball
Monster's Ball
(2001) The Woodsman (2004) Shadowboxer
(2005) Tennessee (2008) Precious (2009) The Paperboy (2012)

v t e

Independent Spirit Award for Best Director

Joel Coen / Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese
(1985) Oliver Stone
Oliver Stone
(1986) John Huston
John Huston
(1987) Ramon Menendez (1988) Steven Soderbergh
Steven Soderbergh
(1989) Charles Burnett (1990) Martha Coolidge (1991) Carl Franklin
Carl Franklin
(1992) Robert Altman
Robert Altman
(1993) Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino
(1994) Mike Figgis
Mike Figgis
(1995) Joel Coen (1996) Robert Duvall
Robert Duvall
(1997) Wes Anderson
Wes Anderson
(1998) Alexander Payne
Alexander Payne
(1999) Ang Lee
Ang Lee
(2000) Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan
(2001) Todd Haynes
Todd Haynes
(2002) Sofia Coppola
Sofia Coppola
(2003) Alexander Payne
Alexander Payne
(2004) Ang Lee
Ang Lee
(2005) Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
(2006) Julian Schnabel
Julian Schnabel
(2007) Tom McCarthy (2008) Lee Daniels
Lee Daniels
(2009) Darren Aronofsky
Darren Aronofsky
(2010) Michel Hazanavicius
Michel Hazanavicius
(2011) David O. Russell
David O. Russell
(2012) Steve McQueen (2013) Richard Linklater
Richard Linklater
(2014) Tom McCarthy (2015) Barry Jenkins
Barry Jenkins
(2016) Jordan Peele
Jordan Peele

v t e

Black Reel Award for Outstanding Director


Malcolm D. Lee (2000) Gina Prince-Bythewood
Gina Prince-Bythewood
(2001) Antoine Fuqua
Antoine Fuqua
(2002) Denzel Washington
Denzel Washington
(2003) F. Gary Gray
F. Gary Gray
(2004) Mario Van Peebles
Mario Van Peebles
(2005) Thomas Carter (2006) Spike Lee
Spike Lee
(2007) Gina Prince-Bythewood
Gina Prince-Bythewood
(2008) no awards in 2009


Lee Daniels
Lee Daniels
(2010) Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes (2011) Steve McQueen (2012) Ava DuVernay
Ava DuVernay
(2013) Steve McQueen (2014) Ava DuVernay
Ava DuVernay
(2015) Ryan Coogler
Ryan Coogler
(2016) Barry Jenkins
Barry Jenkins
(2017) Jordan Peele
Jordan Peele

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 108042906 LCCN: no2010039495 ISNI: 0000 0001 1779 2989 GND: 142404942 SUDOC: 112816622 BNF: