He began his career in entertainment as a casting director and manager after a chance meeting with a Hollywood producer, working on such projects as Under the Cherry Moon and Purple Rain. He continued managing talent. The documentary My Big Break features Daniels early in his career when he was managing actor Wes Bentley who starred as Ricky Fitts in American Beauty. In the documentary, Daniels comments on Bentley reluctance to capitalize on his newfound celebrity status.
Lee father, Philadelphia police officer William Daniels, was, as Daniels says, in the line of duty when Lee was a teenager, in 1975.
Daniels has been very open about his father being violent and physically abusive towards him, and even trying beat it [being gay] out of me. Daniels younger sister Leah is a casting director. He also has four younger brothers.
CareerMonster Ball, the debut production of Lee Daniels Entertainment, was a critical and box office success. Halle Berry won the Oscar for Best Actress; the film was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay.
Daniels 2004 production The Woodsman, starring Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick and Mos Def, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival cartier ring replica. It went on to garner three nominations at the 2005 Independent Spirit Awards, the CICAE Arthouse Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, the Jury Prize at the Deauville International Film Festival and a Mention for Excellence in Filmmaking award from the National Board of Review.
Former president Bill Clinton persuaded Daniels to produce public service announcements to encourage young people of color to vote. The campaign was launched in March 2004 and featured Grammy winners actor/musician LL Cool J and Alicia Keys.
Daniels first directorial effort, 2006's Shadowboxer, debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. It starred Helen Mirren, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Stephen Dorff, Vanessa Ferlito, Mo'Nique, Joseph Gordon Levitt and Macy Gray. It was nominated for Best New Director at the San Sebastian Film Festival.
Daniels 2008 production Tennessee was written by Russell Schaumberg and directed by Aaron Woodley (Rhinoceros Eyes), the film is about two brothers, played by Adam Rothenberg and Ethan Peck, who travel from New Mexico to Tennessee to search for their estranged father. Along the way they meet Krystal (Mariah Carey), an aspiring singer who flees her controlling husband (Lance Reddick) to join them on their journey.
His 2009 film Precious told the story of an obese, illiterate, 16 year old girl (Gabourey Sidibe) who lives in a Section 8 tenement in Harlem. She has been impregnated twice by her father, Carl, and suffers long term physical, sexual and emotional abuse from her unemployed mother, Mary (Mo'Nique). Carey also appeared, in the role of a social worker. The film screened at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and went on to garner widespread acclaim. Daniels was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director, and the film received a Best Picture nomination. It was a financial success grossing $63 million worldwide against a budget of $10 million.
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