If you don’t want to hear the truth, don’t ask Lee Daniels, because you might not like the answer.
The famed movie director and creator of the juggernaut TV show Empire sat down with me and talked about just about everything.
First up, black folks at this year’s Oscars.
“I felt like why are we all there to present and serve you if we can’t eat the food?”
Like I said, don’t ask if you don’t want an honest answer.
When asked if “Selma” and the film’s director got snubbed because The Academy is racist, he said this.
Lee- “The work has to be good. You know I take it back to the work. It’s easy to call the race card for me and everybody else. I don’t call the race card. It is what it is. I didn’t complain when we didn’t get anything for “Butler.” We didn’t get anything for “Butler.”
Don- “Nothing for Butler.”
To John Legend’s Oscar acceptance speech where he said, “There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850,” Daniels said this:
Don- “What’s your reaction to hearing that?”
Lee- “Yes God. Now that I agree with and it’s a damn shame.”
Don- “Why so?”
Lee- “when half my relatives and I mean half my relatives are in jail, some of them unjustly so. When my son calls me up from a 7-11, who went to an all-white high school, and says what’s going on, why are they watching me? And I have to have that conversation with him and it’s more disturbing than the sex conversation. And I gotta tell him why.”
Don- “What do you say to him?”
Lee- “It’s painful, it’s very painful, it’s painful. I blocked it out. You’re different. Welcome to being a black man.”
Daniels says he’s torn over the police issue in the news lately because his dad was a cop and was killed in the line of duty, but says nothing has changed since those days.
“I’m still pulled over, in Beverly Hills, I’m still pulled over. I remember being pulled over for my first awards show. We were nominated for two Oscars for “Monster’s Ball. And I almost didn’t make the Oscars because I got pulled over in Beverly Hills.”
By the way, he made history that night with Haley Berry being the first woman of color to win best actress.
Daniels says police abuse and profiling is the biggest issue facing the black community because it makes young people feel inferior, which makes them feel they have nothing to lose, which makes crime and taking lives inconsequential.
Daniels also weighed in on the Mo’Nique thing, her claim that he told her she had been blackballed from Hollywood after she won the Oscar for “Precious” because she didn’t play the game.
Don- “But some people call that selling out.”
Lee- “Selling out? I guess I’m a sellout then. Call it what it is, but I’m not going to not work and I’m not going to not tell my truth, and I’m not going to call people out on their bull, so whatever that means. Sell out. Ok. I’ll see you in the theaters. (Laughter)”
And I’ll see you on my show, CNN Tonight on CNN where Mo’Nique joins me to tonight.