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Lee Daniels ‘Afraid’ To Answer Question About Gay/Black Acceptance In Hollywood: ‘I Want To Work’

Lee Daniels 'Afraid' To Answer Question About Gay/Black Acceptance In Hollywood: 'I Want To Work'

One of the things I love about Lee Daniels is his honesty – specifically in interviews. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to converse with Mr Daniels – although Sergio has – but I can say that, as an interviewer, there’s nothing more pleasing than a interviewee who isn’t afraid to be unfiltered. It makes my job so much easier, and the entire experience much more interesting, which in turn translates to a pleasurable read (or listen) for you folks!

Sergio already interviewed Lee Daniels about The Butler HERE. Now here’s another interview Daniels gave to KCRW that I thought was worth sharing. 

Daniels talks in detail about the making of the film, and specifically addresses being an *out* gay black filmmaker in Hollywood. One of the more distressing, although *understandable* things that Daniels shares during the conversation comes towards the end of it, when he’s asked to comment specifically on Hollywood’s acceptance of black artists, versus gay artists, versus black gay artists, Daniels replies, stating that he’s actually “afraid” to answer the question, and that he’ll have to remain silent on it, because, “I want to work.

I mention this because, in my experience, given the number of interviews I’ve done over the years, this is very much the position that many (and not just artists of color) take – understandably so. They want to work in an industry in which very few companies retain a monopoly. Criticize it and its practices, no matter what you think of them, and you might find yourself kicked out and blacklisted. So, instead, many take on a vow of silence, and maybe vent their frustrations in private instead.

This may not be acceptable for some of us on the outside looking in, who would prefer that they be completely fearless and speak truth to power, regardless of what the consequences might be. But this is the reality of the business for many, whether you think it’s “right” or “fair.”

Daniels’ interview begins around the 6:50 mark:

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James Nelson

While I'm of the mind that p.o.c. working within the industry should out the industry for it's blatant biases when it comes to p.o.c. in front of and behind the camera, and I hope that if some day I find myself in the position to be a person of interest I won't balk when the issue arises, one can't really fault Daniels on his position.

Just look at the problems Spike Lee has raising money for his projects, which generally turn a profit, and are well made. We've been waiting for a sequel to Inside Man for how long now? You can point to dozens of filmmakers who seemingly have no problem getting films backed even when they churn out flop after flop.


What? Why is it a competition? Gay, black, or gay and black, everyone deserves a voice and representation. Is that really such a controversial position?


Lee Daniels philosophy is one shared by most humans. There's an innate fear that when one speaks for or against most status quo, he or she will faces some type of conseqences. Now I don't necessarily agree with Campell's take, "In these United States, you must go along, to get along. Everyone assimilates to some degree, to succeed" because one does not have to go along to "succeed". However, there's a price to pay when one raises issues that may be perceived as anti-status quo. That price, that kick-back or fear of being ostracized is not limited to the entertainment business, it even happens here at S&A. In it's comment section, it has been noted that when one disagrees with the majority, he or she may face a wrath of unkind feedback… nuff said.

In respect to gay and racial issues, therein lies double, double, toil and trouble. In other words it's a double-edged sword. For instance, when one takes a stand against homosexuality or is pro-heterosexual , even though they may mean gays no harm, it's been noted that they are branded with the negative connotation "homophobic". Consequently many choose to stay mum and stay controversy free.

On the racial front, how many times have we seen pro-black individuals be characterized as racists or deemed to have a vengeance against anyone who's of a different color? MLK is a perfect example of that slippery slope of circumstance. In fact, he spoke on why most people take the frequently traveled low road of less resistance.

"Many people fear nothing more terribly than to take a position which stands out sharply and clearly from the prevailing opinion. The tendency of most is to adopt a view that is so ambiguous that it will include everything and so popular that it will include everybody. Not a few men who cherish lofty and noble ideals hide them under a bushel for fear of being called different."

Lee Daniels is no different than most men. There's an innate fear of rejection in all of us.

Art Clokey

Mr. Daniels' philosophy is one shared by almost all American black directors making a living in Hollywood today. No one really wants to step on any white toes (including spike, for all his contrived positivity.) Even newjack Ryan Coogler's amazing vision will be watered down in his next film, "Creed" (aka "Rocky 7".) They all "want to work." And I suppose there's nothing wrong with that.

But this is also why Steve McQueen's vision and philosophy is so unusually different. He steps on white toes, but somehow in the end he makes it all work out.

Accidental Visitor

I interpret his remarks as being that he is weary about revealing that gay artists are likely widely more accepted than black artists.

Lex Kennedy

And to think the Outfest Fusion film festival gave him a lifetime achievement award, but he refuses to speak about acceptance and visibility for LGBTQ people of color in Hollywood. The industry needs more fearless filmmakers and artist.


In these United States, you must go along, to get along.
Everyone assimilates to some degree, to succeed.


I can understand Lee Daniels, and him saying he's afraid to say anything kind of says more about the issue than anything else he could've mentioned. But yeah, Hollywood is upheld by a status quo of straight white male business mentality. It's the same with any large organization. The whole appearance reflects the rigidity of those who run it. It's a system that's probably too complicated to even start to destroy because it's too far gone.


He needs to maintain relationships with the Weinstein Company.
Keep mouth shut, and reap the rewards.
Open your mouth, and end up boxed out like Spike or Singleton.
Pick your poison.


And, yes, with four black films being released and Mr. Daniels' reluctance to speak on black issues, much less gay, we're experiencing a renaissance in black filming. We're living in a marvelous era.

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