An American actor, film producer, and director, Lee Louis Daniels was born on December 24, 1959. He is credited with directing some of the most controversial, yet memorable films of the last decade including hisdirectorial debut in 2004’s The Woodsman and 2006’s Shadowboxer. He also produced both films.
Theoldest child born to William and Clara Daniels, he and his four siblings were reared in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He and his father shared a love for books and poetry, though William Daniels did not want his son to pursue writing as a career. Moreover, early signs ofhomosexuality in young Daniels incensed his dad, leading to physical abuse. The patriarch of the family was a law officer and was killed in the line of duty in 1972, forcing his mother to raise her children as a single mother.
Daniels graduated from Radnor High school in 1978and studied liberal arts at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri. He left before graduating and relocated to Los Angeles where he worked for a health care agency. A short time later he started his own nursing placement agency, landing a number of important clients thatincluded the fledgling AIDS Project Los Angeles. He later sold the agency in 1981 for approximately $2 million and launched his career in entertainment.
Daniels began his Hollywood career as a productionassistant and later a casting director. Eventually, his path led him to work on notable projects including Princes Purple Rain (1984) and Under the Cherry Moon(1986). Frustrated by the lack of meaningful roles for African Americanactors, he founded Lee Daniels Entertainment in 2004. His clientele grew to include such notables as Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Morgan Freeman and eventually non-black actors such as Hilary Swank.
In 2004, former President Bill Clinton persuaded Daniels to produce a series of public service announcements aimed at young people of color to encouragethem to vote. Daniels, in turn, enlisted LL Cool J and Alicia Keys in the successful project.
Famous for his uncompromising