Lee Daniels Opens Up About His Past Drug Addiction: Unless I Am Talking About It, I Am Not Going To Stay Sober
With the upcoming release of his new film, ‘The United States vs. Billie Holiday’, director/producer Lee Daniels is giving details on his project and opening up about his past drug addiction. While the film is set to premiere on Hulu on Feb. 26, it has already been generating Oscar buzz for the lead star, singer/actress Andra Day, who is now nominated for a Golden Globe. Andra Day plays legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday in the upcoming film. The biopic not only highlights Holiday’s music career but also focuses on the shocking attempts by U.S. government agencies to stop Billie Holiday from singing one of her biggest hits, ‘Strange Fruit’, her song about the lynching of African Americans that is often credited with kickstarting the civil rights movement.
In a recent interview, Lee Daniels revealed that his own struggle with drugs and addiction was one of the main reasons he wanted to direct ‘The United States vs. Billie Holiday’. Lee Daniels said,
“Part of the reason I wanted to tell Billie’s story is, I understand addiction and the artist. I also understand the feeling of a lack of self-worth, thinking that you aren’t talented. When your father tells you things like that at a young age, no matter how old you get, that voice is in your head.”
“The Butler” director says that he started using drugs to help numb the pain of losing so many friends during the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.
“I didn’t understand why so many of my friends were dying, who were far greater people and nicer than me, and they were just dropping dead. So I think I began taking drugs to anesthetize the pain, and that spiraled into a dark place, and it took me a long time to get out of it.”
While Daniels has long spoken out about his past drug addiction before, it is seemingly still a sensitive topic for the 61-year-old director, who admits he is ‘nervous’ talking about the subject.
“I’m a little nervous talking about it. But it is important because it affected Billie [Holiday], it affected me, and addiction is real. Unless I am talking about it, I am not going to stay sober.”
Daniels reveals that legendary singer Patti LaBelle played a major part in his sobriety several years ago.
“Patti LaBelle was the cause of my sobriety. I called her one night at 3am – it was when I was doing Precious [in 2008], and I kept rambling at her, just rambling. Ha! She said to me, ‘You know God and you know Jesus,’ and I said, ‘Are you really gonna ruin my high now? What are you talking about, lady?’ But I said a prayer and that was the beginning for me.”
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