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Lee Daniels

on the red carpet of the 2010 Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, January 23, 2010
Born Lee Louis Daniels
December 24, 1959 (1959-12-24) (age 50)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Occupation Actor, director, producer
Years active 1980s-present
Domestic partner(s) Billy Hopkins
Official website

Lee Louis Daniels (born December 24, 1959) is an American actor, film producer and director best known for producing Monster's Ball and directing Precious, the film adaptation of the novel Push, by Sapphire, which received 6 Academy Award nominations, including ones for Best Director (the second time an African American was honored in such a way) and Best Picture.


Early years

Daniels was born on Christmas Eve, 1959, in Philadelphia and attended Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri.[1] He 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 and Purple Rain. He continued managing talent, including several Academy Award nominees and winners. The documentary 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 a dynamic Daniels animatedly comments on Bentley's reluctance to capitalize on his newfound celebrity status.

When he arrived in Hollywood, Daniels first worked for a nursing agency, then created his own agency at age 21. He sold his agency for approx $2 million and went to work as a production assistant. Later, he realized he had not paid taxes on his income but paid them off in time.[2]


Lee Daniels with his niece and nephew in 2007.

Monster's Ball, the first production of Lee Daniels Entertainment, marked Daniels as the first African-American sole producer of an Academy Award-earning film. It was a critical and box-office success and was nominated for two Academy Awards in 2002: Best Original Screenplay and Best Actress, for which Halle Berry won the Oscar.

Daniels's next producing effort was The Woodsman, starring Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick and Mos Def, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004. Nominated for three 2005 Independent Spirit Awards, the film received 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.

Daniels made his directorial debut in 2006 with Shadowboxer, which starred Helen Mirren, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Stephen Dorff, Vanessa Ferlito, Mo'Nique, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Macy Gray. The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and received a nomination for "Best New Director" at the San Sebastian Film Festival.

Daniels produced the 2008 film Tennessee, which 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.

Daniels most recently directed the film, Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, which screened at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.[3]

Former president 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 actor/musician LL Cool J and Grammy winner Alicia Keys.

Personal life

Daniels is based in New York City where he and his partner, casting director Billy Hopkins, raise his brother's two children, Clara Infinity and Liam Samad.[4][5]







External links

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