Lee Daniels has plenty to be proud about, considering the whirlwind success of his Fox series, Empire. The director and film producer was part of a recent Hollywood roundtable discussion that focused on race, including Daniels speaking out forcefully against white writers working for Black television shows.
The Hollywood Reporter reported on the discussion, which featured Daniels and five other creators of hit series. The list included Netflix’s House Of Cards showrunner Beau Willimon, HBO’s The Leftovers writer and producer Damon Lindelof, Showtime’s Homeland writer and producer Alex Gansa, CBS’s The Good Wife writer and producer Michelle King, and Showtime’s The Affair writer and producer Sarah Treem.
The frank discussion between these powerful minds behind today’s top shows honed in on a variety of topics and was alarmingly honest, but it was Daniels as the lone Black figure of the talks that spoke the harshest truths. The entire group spoke out against critical fans and how they typically avoid reading reviews, and Daniels had a choice few words for them as well.
From The Hollywood Reporter:
DANIELS: What upsets me is that there are many blacks who don’t like how I’m representing African-Americans right now. And I’m like, “Well, this is the world that I know. This is as honest as I can be.” My mom said to me prior to Empire, prior to even Butler, “Can’t you do movies like Tyler Perry?” (Laughter.)
DANIELS: Yeah. I don’t know what gives me more pleasure: watching my story unfold or going in and watching a room full of black people talking for me and writing words for black people. I hate white people writing for black people; it’s so offensive. So we go out and look specifically for African-American voices. Yes, it’s all about reverse racism!
Daniels even turned the heat on his fellow panelists, asking if they had writers of colors on their staff. Although it reads like it was an uncomfortable moment, it ended up being an amicable discussion nonetheless.
Watch the video below and learn how Lee Daniels cures his writing block. A warning: there’s some language that may not be safe for daytime hours here.
Check the stands for the May 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter to read the discussion in full.
Photo: The Hollywood Reporter