Lee Daniels: ‘Studios will give you about $10 to make a black movie’

Lee Daniels: ‘Studios will give you about $10 to make a black movie’

The Guardian

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The maverick director makes the films no one else would dare to – persuading Oprah to break her acting drought, and Nicole Kidman to pee on Zac Efron. What’s his next coup?

‘I’m sure the publicity people are spinning out of control because I’m having this conversation with you. But life is too short for me not to keep it real,” the director-producer Lee Daniels tells me, and it is neither the first nor the last time during our interview that he says words to that effect. (And he is right: the publicity people don’t like our conversation, but we’ll get to that later.) We are talking on Zoom, me in my home in London, him in his decidedly more impressive-looking home in Los Angeles, with lovely artworks, big sofas and glossy wooden walls in the background. This is where Daniels has spent the past year in lockdown, with his boyfriend, stylist Jahil Fisher. A famously sociable guy whose close friends include Oprah Winfrey and Mariah Carey, Daniels has not enjoyed being grounded. “Locked down and really losing my mind,” he says, glumly. “But then, I think about my cousins who are in jail, and my brother who’s recently out of jail, and a lot of my friends who are dead or in jail, and I’m in Beverly Hills. So shut up and stop complaining, because life is good.”

Barbara Bush invited me to watch The Butler. I was the only black person – sitting between her and George, sharing popcorn

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