LGBT History Month 2014: Lee Daniels, Movie Director

Photo Credit Associated Press

LGBT History Month celebrates the achievements of 31 lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender Icons. Each day in October, a new LGBT Icon is featured with a video, bio, bibliography, downloadable images and other resources.

In 1994, Rodney Wilson, a Missouri high school teacher, believed a month should be dedicated to the celebration and teaching of gay and lesbian history, and gathered other teachers and community leaders. They selected October because public schools are in session and existing traditions, such as Coming Out Day (October 11), occur that month.

October 14: Lee Daniels, Movie Director

Lee Daniels is an Academy Award nominated producer, director, screenwriter and actor.

Daniels survived a traumatic childhood. After being caught wearing his mother’s pumps, he was violently assaulted by his father. Daniels stated, “When I came out it was because I loathed my dad so much.”

Torment also followed Daniels to school. He was gay and black in a predominantly white school. “I was always told that I was nothing because I was gay,” he said.

At age 21, Daniels started a nurse-staffing agency, which he sold a year later. The sale made him a millionaire and allowed him to pursue his dream of working in the entertainment industry. He first worked as a casting director and later as a talent manager. He built a client base of Academy Award winners and nominees, most of whom later worked in Daniels’s films.

Daniels became a Hollywood force in 2001 when his production company released “Monster’s Ball,” a movie for which Halle Berry won the Oscar for Best Actress. Daniels later directed the film “Precious.” His experience as a sexually abused child inspired his direction of the film. “Precious” received six Academy Award nominations, including Best Director, and earned two Academy Awards.

In 2012 his film “The Paperboy,” with Nicole Kidman, was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

In 2013 Daniels directed the critically acclaimed film “The Butler,” with Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whitaker, John Cusack, Jane Fonda and Mariah Carey.