Lee Daniels is a widely recognized director, writer, and producer in both film and television. His credits include the critically-acclaimed box office hit Lee Daniels’ The Butler and the Oscar-nominated Precious, based on the novel by Sapphire, which was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Motion Picture and Best Achievement in Directing. His other feature directing credits include Shadowboxer and The Paperboy, in addition to producing Monster’s Ball. In 2015 Daniels expanded his influence into the world of television by co-creating Fox’s mega hit series "Empire." He is also currently working on his television series "Star," under his deal at Fox.
Daniels was the first African American to be nominated for a Director's Guild of America Award for "Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film" on behalf of Precious. The film won both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, only the third film in Festival history to do so. It was also nominated for three Golden Globe awards including "Best Picture Drama," and was nominated for eight NAACP Image Awards, six of which it won, in categories including "Outstanding Motion Picture" and "Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture, Theatrical or Television.” The film also garnered a total of five 2010 Independent Spirit Awards, including "Best Feature” and "Best Director.”
Shadowboxer marked Daniels’ directorial debut. Following the film's world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, Daniels was also nominated for the New Directors Award at the 2006 San Sebastian Film Festival.
Daniels’ production company, Lee Daniels Entertainment, made its feature film debut with Monster's Ball, making Daniels the sole African-American producer of an Oscar-winning and Oscar-nominated film. Daniels also produced The Woodsman, which was nominated for three Independent Spirit Awards. The film received the CICAE Arthouse Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, the Jury Prize at the Deauville International Film Festival, and Special Mention for Excellence in Filmmaking from the National Board of Review.
In 2012, Daniels released The Paperboy, which he wrote, directed, and also produced. The film, which stars Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron, John Cusack, David Oyelowo and Nicole Kidman, is based on the 1995 novel by Pete Dexter that centers on a reporter (McConaughey) and his younger brother (Efron), who investigate the events surrounding a murder to exonerate a man on death row (Cusack). The film premiered at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, and was released by Millennium Entertainment.
Daniels' most recent work is centered in television, particularly his hit series "Empire" for FOX, for which he wrote and directed the pilot and serves as a producer for the series. The one hour family drama is set in the world of a hip-hop empire that features both original and contemporary music. Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson star, with Timbaland producing the show’s original music. Daniels followed his work on Empire with "Star," another music-based drama for Fox.
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