Daniels had been at CAA. He started as a casting assistant on the groundbreaking Prince film Purple Rain, and then became a producer of films that included Monster’s Ball and The Woodsman, before moving up to director on Shadowboxer. His breakout as director was Precious, the 2009 searing drama that got him Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Picture. He followed with The Paperboy and then directed Lee Daniels’ The Butler, a $30 million budget film that grossed $176 million worldwide and led the weekend grosses for three weeks.
Daniels got into the TV game when he teamed with Danny Strong to co-create Empire, writing, directing and exec producing episodes of the record industry drama that stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson. That series is in its fifth season. He followed by co-creating with Tom Donaghy the Fox drama Star, about a trio of women who form a singing group in Atlanta. That drama was the first under the overall deal with Fox television under his Lee Daniels Entertainment banner. Other projects in that deal include Ms Pat, Mason Dixon, The Spook Who Sat By The Door and Our People. That Fox deal got renewed earlier this year.
Additional upcoming projects from Daniels include Waiting To Exhale, Eric Garner’s Story…I Can’t Breathe, biopics on Snoop Dogg and Sammy Davis Jr, and Ain’t No Mo’. Latter is Daniels’ his first play, which he is producing at The Public Theater. Daniels is also an advocate for LGBTQ rights and sits on the board of several philanthropic organizations including Ghetto Film School.