Director Lee Daniels is known for working with Hollywood’s biggest stars. From directing Halle Berry in her Oscar winning role in ‘Monster’s Ball’, the heart breakingly honest ‘Precious’ starring Gabourey Sidibe and Oscar winner Mo’nique, Daniels is a masterful storyteller. Recently, the 54-year-old Philadelphia native stopped by The Arsenio Hall Show, telling his story of growing up enduring abuse at the hands of his father, coming out of the closet and his thoughts on the massively successful film ‘The Butler’ being overlooked for awards. Peep the excerpts below.
On him coming out of the closet:
There was never a closet. My earliest memories were coming the stairs in my mothers high heels at six-years-old while my dad’s playing cards with the buddies. Imagine that. I grew up in the ghetto..I think it’s great that African women have embraced me and embraced my work and made me the man that I am. And so I’m in a good place, I’ve always been embraced. I’m not embarrassed about it, its always been a great place for me.
How his father felt about him being gay:
He was embarrassed, I think. And I didn’t understand why he was so hard on me about being gay. And Arsenio, I didn’t realize until after I did ‘The Butler’ that at that time he was a second-class citizen and that he was called ****. He wasn’t a man. And so when he saw that I was gay he thought that that was even — ‘Oh my God, this kid, what is this kid going to encounter?’ It’s bad enough. After doing ‘The Butler’ and doing so much research, I understood where his head set was at and I forgave him and I love him. I did ‘Precious’ because I didn’t understand where that was coming from. I do it all therapeutically, its for me, it’s selfish. It’s all about me because I can’t afford therapy.
Being abused by his father:
I don’t think it was intentional. I think it was because he was beaten and his father was tied to a tree and beaten, His fathers father was a slave and so I think that that was generational. He didn’t have the skills. What’s hard for me, when my kid tells me, ‘No I ain’t doing it’.. it takes everything I have to undo whats been taught. You know it’s generational.
If it bothers him that The Butler is being overlooked for awards:
No and it doesn’t matter. The award comes from people like my mom who marched… and my cousins and my uncles that got their teeth knocked out for me to vote. That is the award, when they hug you and they tell you, ‘Oh my God — you have told our story’. There is no award that you can take home that’s greater than that.
[The Arsenio Hall Show]