Feb 082011
Authors: Allison Knaus

Lee Daniels is anything but your typical Hollywood figure. African American, homosexual and having overcome a less than perfect childhood, he uses his life challenges as inspiration for his work.

“It’s all about embracing the truth and humor of life. That’s what get’s me through the dark times,” Daniels said to a crowd of students, facility and community members Tuesday night in the Lory Student Center Main Ballroom.

Daniels, a producer and director most known for his work in “Monsters Ball” and “Precious” hosted a discussion with CSU students sponsored by Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement as part of the “Distinguished Speaker Series” and also in honor of Black History Month.

“I came from an interesting background. It’s in my DNA, and it’s important to portray that in my films,” Daniels said.

Daniels, the first African American to receive a “Best Director” Academy Award nomination, spoke about his triumphant battle from a broken childhood to a successful career of directing and filmmaking.

“It was engraved in me my whole life that I was nothing. If you are told you are nothing, you carry that with you,” Daniels said.

Black History Month gives Daniels reason to be proud of his heritage and advocate for the African American community through his work.

“African Americans have been denied as people. By honoring (them) with a month, it’s an important way for Americans to see the significance and importance of what blacks went through,” Daniels said at a leadership reception prior to the event, which brought together students from leadership organizations on campus.

Junior ethnic studies major, Asuka Nosaka came to Daniels’ discussionbecause of the importance of Black History Month.

“Daniels has a powerful past that has made him a strong individual with many accomplishments,” Nosaka said.

Championing through a childhood of abuse and neglect, Daniels said he learned to appreciate the little things and never take life for granted.

“Most importantly, I never gave up belief in myself when others did,” Daniels said.

Daniels most recent work, “Precious,” recounts a story of an overweight African-American teen battling pregnancy, an abusive mother and her attempts to break free from her violent life.

“Precious” was a culmination of all my work; she is a face we don’t see and a voice we don’t hear,” Daniels said of directing the film.
CSU students found Daniels’ lecture to be tremendously inspiring.

“Daniels was candid and honest with an important message,” said SLiCE Marketing Director Stephanie Ashley.

The most important of Daniels’ messages was in conveying truth and reality through film in the form of hard-hitting and message based work.
“We go to the movies to escape reality, but that’s not my world,” Daniels said.

_Staff writer Allison Knaus can be reached at news@collegian.com. _

Lee Daniels’ Films

*Precious” 2009
*“Monster’s Ball” 2001
*“Shadowboxer” 2005
*“Precious” 2009

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