A Pride Celebration of Director Lee Daniels

A Pride Celebration of Director Lee Daniels

June 15, 2024 A DGA LGBTQ+ Committee Event

“Everything I have directed, I have lived. Everything has been personal to me. And if I don’t know it, I am not interested in doing it,” said Director Lee Daniels as he shared his personal and professional experiences in the industry during the DGA LGBTQ+ Committee’s Pride Celebration event in his honor.

The June 15 bi-coastal event, held in the Guild’s Los Angeles theater and live-streamed to and from the DGA Boardroom in New York, paid tribute to the DGA Award-nominated Director, a trailblazer who has used his platform to amplify underrepresented voices and shed light on pressing societal issues.

Welcoming the audience from New York, DGA President Lesli Linka Glatter said, “I couldn’t be more proud and excited that we are honoring the groundbreaking storytelling of the extraordinary Director Lee Daniels, whose incredible films Precious, The Butler and Shadowboxer – along with his hit television series Empire and Star – have left an indelible and inspirational mark on audiences around the nation and the world.”

“We are thrilled to honor a great storyteller illuminating the human condition,” added LGBTQ+ Committee Co-Chair Kimberly Peirce in Los Angeles during her introduction to a package of clips from Daniels’ work. “A lot of us here – not too long ago – faced a world that offered few, if any, stories that reflected who we were, how we live, and how we loved. He brings queerness into mainstream film. Your stories changed the world and I thank you.”

In his introduction of the honoree, LGBTQ+ Committee Co-Chair John Krokidas recalled when Daniels offered him the opportunity to work on his series Star and said, “It gives me so much pleasure to have the chance to bring something back to you right now that everyone here gets to honor you today.”

During a frank conversation about his career moderated by Director Anthony Hemingway, Daniels spoke about his start in Hollywood. I was directing theater in small churches and on Melrose. I learned how to direct from watching actors in television shows and in film. Isn’t that crazy? Everyone has their own sort of story.”

“We have come a long way since Empire – this was before Black Panther, before Black-ish, before Insecure – all of that. We were changing the deep homophobia that was in the community and now we see the progress of where we are right now.”

After the moderated discussion, LGBTQ+ Committee Co-Chair Paris Barclay invited members to continue the celebration in the DGA Atrium and said, “Lee, with your authenticity and your passion, and your willingness to use your experience, to create art, you showed us something we can do and something we can emulate, and something that can inspire us. It is a significant gift. And with that, let’s celebrate.”

A DGA member since 2007, Daniels broke through with his DGA Award-nominated feature, Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire, which was also nominated for six Academy Awards. In 2013, he released the critically acclaimed Lee Daniels’ The Butler. His other directorial credits include the feature films Shadowboxer, The Paperboy and The United States vs. Billie Holiday; the movie for television Good People; and the pilots for the series Empire and STAR, which he co-created. He recently wrapped production on The Deliverance, a psychological thriller he wrote, directed and produced.

Daniels sits on numerous boards, including that of Ghetto Film School, a nonprofit that helps to develop the next generation of great American storytellers. He is also a longtime LGBTQIA activist, has served as a co-chair of the DGA’s Eastern Diversity Steering Committee and is a member of the LGBTQ+ Representative Committee.

This LGBTQ+ Committee’s Pride Celebration of Director Lee Daniels was presented with the support of the African American and Eastern Diversity Steering Committees.


See video from this event in the gallery below.

About the Committee:

 The LGBTQ+ Committee was founded in 2021 as a provisional committee to explore ways to educate, inform, address the concerns of and create opportunities for members who identify in these categories. At the DGA National Board meeting on January 8, 2022, the Board voted make the LGBTQ+ Committee an official standing committee.The Committee is dedicated to empowering and advancing the professional interests of LGBTQ+ and to promoting and working for employment equity throughout the entertainment industry. The Committee’s Co-Chairs are Directors Paris Barclay, John Krokidas and Kimberly Peirce.

Pictures & Video

photos by Elisa Haber (Los Angeles) & Ryan Jensen (New York)

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