Lee Daniels - Addressing Fears About the Future on "Star"

March 13, 2017 - Lee Daniels 03/13/2017 Views: 11,054

Lee Daniels, creator of the Fox shows "Empire" and "Star," talks about how he's dealt with homophobia in the hip-hop community as well as racism within society at large. (4:49)

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Please welcome Lee Daniels!

(cheers and applause)

-Hey.-Lee, welcome.

Welcome to the show.

I'm a huge fan of everythingthat you make.

-Thank you, bro.-Like, when will it stop?

How much creativity do youpossess in your mind? No. I...

Like, Star was a show that cameout of nowhere for me, but

how did you get the conceptbehind the show?

-Um, a combination of Dreamgirls on Broadway, -Yeah.

and my kids, my kids, you know?

We're in a difficult timein America,

-and I wanted to share what wasin my head. -Yeah.

My fear for my son.

My fear for my nephews,

and my fear for America.

How did it feel when creating

one of the characters in Star,

-who is a young man,who is a hero, -Yeah.

and he's really workingthrough things.

-He's also a Black Lives Matterprotester, right? -Mm-hmm.

And one thing that kept swirlingin my mind

was the fact that hereis this kid

who is pro-Black Lives Matter,

and I know fromyour personal story

-that your dad was a policeman,-Mm-hmm.

-who was gunned down duringa holdup. -Mm-hmm.

There are not many people

who have stories

-that conflict the way yours do.-Yeah.

On one hand, you have peoplesaying we need more respect

from the police,and we don't even feel

like they are an institutionthat protects us.

On the other hand, you grew upunder the police.

How do you create that story?

It's really, reallya fascinating question,

and I'm still trying to findthe answer to it,

because I was toldto respect the police.

My dad was a cop, and he waskilled when I was 12.

And at a timeat the height of racism

during Rizzo's regimein Philadelphia.

MOVE was at its most powerful.

They were killing black peopleleft and right.

And yet at my father's casket,

there were a ton of white men,

cops, crying over his funeral,over his casket.

So it was, um...

What defines racism?

I don't really quite knowwhat that means.

I mean, it really baffles meto this day,

because I sawgrown-ass white men

crying over my dad's casket.

When you delve into that,

you realize that there's,

there's, paradoxes galore,you know?

It doesn't seem to match up.

You know, like you're saying,

the race on one side,you're looking at these police

who have a historyin the community,

and then at the same time,they see your father as a man.

-Do you feel at sometimes...-He risked his life.

-He risked his life.-Yeah.

He was, he was a hero.

Do you still feel that in yourlife today to a certain extent?

Like, do you ever see that,you know,

beyond just maybe your dad?

Or is this somethingthat you take with you

where you realize thatthat's happening again,

or in a different way?

My dad told me thatI had two strikes against me.

One, I was black,and secondly, that I was gay.

And so I carry that with me.

I carry that as a badge.

I carry that with honor,

and I carry that with...

I try to take that with me intoall of the work that I do.


As a black man who is gay

who works on a showthat has a lot of hip-hop,

how do you,how do you tackle that...

-(laughs) How do I navigatethat? -How do you navigate that?

I think that, you know,there's a lot of homophobia

within the hip-hop world.

-And I think that, for me,-Yeah.

the elite artiststhat I work with,

some of which are homophobic,

and I think that they

don't look at me as a gay man.

They look at me as a racistwould Michael Jackson.

Where they put the artistabove the color.

-Yeah.-That's powerful.

Ain't no differentfrom my father

and the white racists that werelooking down on him crying.

What defines it?

There is no black or white.

There's that grey area and thatis what we all are made of,

and that's what it is that I tryto do with my storytelling.

I've only spent a, you know,a few minutes with you,

but I can feel how everything

gets into your moviesand your TV shows.

-This is amazing.-(laughs) Thank you, man.

-Thank you very much for yourtime. -Thank you very much.

Thank you for everythingyou're trying to do.

I really appreciate it.

Thank you so muchfor being here.

Empire will returnon March 22nd,

and the season finale of Stars

airs March 15that 9:00 p.m. on FOX.

Lee Daniels, everybody.

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