Lee Daniels is an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker whose work is trademarked by authenticity and candor, providing audiences with a unique and refreshing experience and character insight with each of his projects. He is perhaps best known for the 2013 critically acclaimed box office smash Lee Daniels’ The Butler, in addition to his 2009 feature Precious: Based on the Novel by Sapphire, which was nominated for six Academy Awards including “Best Motion Picture of the Year” and “Best Achievement in Directing.” The film also made history as Lee became the first African-American to be nominated for the DGA’s Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film Award. But did you know…
1) Daniels first dove into the Entertainment Industry as a Casting Director.
As a casting director, he worked on films such as Purple Rain and Under the Cherry Moon. He had skills “casting” nurses while owning and operating a nursing agency, but later sold the agency and took his knack for finding the right person for each job to the entertainment world. Now he’s crushing Hollywood as a director, writer, producer and creator, taking on projects that he believes in and has a tremendous amount of passion for.
2) His name is in the official title of one of his biggest films.
The original title of his smash hit, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, was simply The Butler. This was until Warner Brothers claimed they owned the rights to that film title because they released a silent film 1916, also called The Butler. The MPAA decided by adding the director’s name to the title would be the best way to settle things. Now that’s pretty snazzy!
3) Daniels cultivates behind the scenes.
Actors Cuba Gooding Jr. and Lenny Kravitz (who play friends and coworkers in Lee Daniels’ The Butler) are good friends in real life. In between their takes, Cuba and Lenny would tell dirty jokes, which then inspired Daniels to add some of their barrage into the script. He found their banter so charismatic and on-point with their characters—that he even allowed Cuba and Lenny to improv some of the lines.
4. Daniels is in the works for a musical about his life.
He said in an interview with Billboard, “[My] publicist will kill me, but I’m in talks about doing a musical about my life.” He wants the film to have the feel of Fellini’s 8 1/2 with all original music. Can we buy our ticket now, please? Lee Daniels has had a fascinating life from being homeless to becoming the co-creator and executive producer of the breakout hit Empire—so we know this musical film will be the nothing short of spectacular.
5) Daniels is creating another television show!
His new TV Show with FOX titled Star, is set to debut in 2017. Daniels said that it is, “…the antithesis of Empire.” Think more a long the lines of a John Waters film. This music-themed TV Show is about a girl band forming together in Atlanta and is twinkled with names like Queen Latifia, Benjamin Bratt and Lenny Kravitz. Daniels is the writer, creator and executive producer. For the official trailer and first-taste click here. We can’t wait!
6. Lee Daniels will be at NVFF16!
NVFF has partnered with Lexus and The Weinstein Company to host a presentation of Lexus Short Films. Each year Lexus identifies talented young filmmakers and pairs them with The Weinstein Company to create a new series of short films. This year four new films will screen together for the first time ever at the Napa Valley Film Festival on Thursday, November 10 at 2:00pm in Yountville’s glorious Lincoln Theater. All four filmmakers will be in attendance, and Lee Daniels will host a lively onstage conversation with the four talented directors following the screening of their short films.