Feb 072011
 
Authors: Allison Sylte

Lee Daniels was the first black “Best Director” nominee at the Academy Awards. He has also started his own multi-million dollar production company, raised two kids and has become a prominent civil rights advocate.
“He’s a champion for civil rights, and he’s trying to make a difference,” said Paul Ronto, the graduate leadership coordinator at the Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement office (SLiCE). “That’s what the SLiCE office is all about.”
Daniels’ next stop? CSU.
Daniels, a producer and director whose notable films include “Monster’s Ball” and “Precious,” will host a discussion with CSU students courtesy of SLiCE’s “Distinguished Speaker Series,” and also in honor of Black History Month.
He was born and raised in West Philadelphia, the oldest of five children and the product of an abusive father. After dropping out of college during his junior year, he went to Las Angeles with $7 in his pocket and a dream of somehow getting involved in Hollywood.

Daniels’ trip to L.A. didn’t quite work out as he had planned.

His first job was working as an office assistant at a nursing agency, but was quickly promoted to management. This led to him creating his very own nursing company.

By the age of 22, Daniels was the head of a multi-million dollar company, but when he got the opportunity to get involved with Hollywood from a client, he sold the company, pocketed the money and began his first project: working on “Purple Rain” with Prince.

Angered by the shortage of successful black actors in Hollywood, he then started his own management agency, which would soon list Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman among its clients.

From there, he started his own production company, whose first film was “Monster’s Ball.”

“What makes Daniels fascinating is his rise from obscurity and into becoming one of the most influential people in Hollywood,” Ronto said.

Daniels then went on to produce “Precious,” garnering the first ever “Best Director” nomination for a black filmmaker.

He will discuss these experiences, and many others, at 7 p.m. tonight in the Lory Student Center Main Ballroom. Tickets are free to students and $4 for the public, and can be purchased online at www.csutix.com.

“We should all be excited to have the chance to see such a prominent Hollywood figure at CSU,” Rondo said.

Assistant News Editor Allison Sylte can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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