Lee Daniels
Erik Pendzich/REX/Shutterstock
United States

Lee Daniels Entertainment


CEO / Director / Producer

Daniels made a name for himself in film, but he scored quite a second act in television, where the success of “Empire” on Fox has led to a second series, “Star.”

Daniels began his entertainment career in casting and management (he managed actor Wes Bentley for a time) before forming Lee Daniels Entertainment, which made a splash with its first release, 2001’s “Monster’s Ball” starring Halle Berry, who won a best actress Oscar. Daniels directed 2009’s “Precious,” which introduced actress Gabourey Sidibe, and the film was nominated for best picture and directing Oscars. Daniels also directed 2013’s “The Butler,” which garnered largely positive reviews and took in more than $100 million domestically.

In 2016 Daniels spoke at the Democratic National Convention and directed an ad for Hillary Clinton’s campaign featuring the stars of “Empire.” His next announced project is a remake of “Terms of Endearment.”

He’s used “Empire” to address homophobia and tackle personal wounds related to his relationship with his father, who he’s described as physically abusive.

“This is real. Homophobia is real in the African-American community … and we will continue to do our thing until homophobia is done,” the openly gay Daniels said in 2015.

A writer-producer-director with personal flair, he appeared on several Fox TCA panels wearing pajamas and/or a bathrobe, attire he’s also been known to wear while directing.


  • STAR


  • Lindenwood University (MO, USA)

Variety Honors

  • 10 Producers to Watch

News from Variety

Lee Daniels Developing Pair of Drama Projects at Fox With Julian Breece, Peter Mattei

Lee Daniels Developing Pair of Drama Projects at Fox With Julian Breece, Peter Mattei

Lee Daniels will executive produce two drama projects currently in development at Fox, Variety has learned.The first project, titled "Victory," is a one-hour drama set in the world of competitive gospel choirs. It tells the story of a prodigal son and a group of forgotten young people who must rise above their personal hardships to save a church and heal a broken community through the power of song. The project has received a put pilot commitment at the network. Julian Breece will...


Deep Dive

Want more information on Lee Daniels?

Variety's premium research & data service, Variety Insight, provides a wealth of information around everyone working in entertainment. Access contact information, development slates, ratings, box office, credits and more from the industry's leading source for entertainment data.