The Case for Black With a Capital B



A Conversation with Lee Daniels, Director of "Precious"

A Conversation with Lee Daniels
By Talia Whyte

Acclaimed filmmaker Lee Daniels spoke before a group of aspiring Hollywood hopefuls at Emerson College on Feb. 23, where he discussed his own journey in the film world and success behind his latest work Precious. I had a chance to talk to him more in-depth about his films following the discussion.

With only $7 in his pocket, Daniels, a Philadelphia native, dropped out of college and took a bus to Los Angeles with a dream to make it in the entertainment world. After a brief stint running his own health care agency, he got his first break in Hollywood when he worked with legendary rocker Prince on some of his music videos. In the following years, Daniels mainly worked on the business side of Hollywood, doing casting and management for other actors before taking the helm at the director's seat.

Daniels says he is proud that his films have not only been successful, but also break down Hollywood old boys' network. He first saw success with his gritty film Monster's Ball, which propelled Halle Berry's historic Best Actress Oscar win. Precious is the filmmaker's most accomplished movie to date, receiving international critical acclaim and recently taking six Academy Award nominations. While Daniels is the second African-American to be nominated for Best Director, he is the first African-American director to have a film with a mostly black cast nominated for a Best Film Oscar.

When asked about what has inspired his path in life, he said his success has come from being true to himself and that other up and coming filmmakers should embrace the same method.

"I always believe in myself," Daniels said. "Don't embrace the 'No,' and don't dance to anybody else's drum beat but your own beat."