Photo of Lee Daniels Lee Daniels

A barrier-breaking director and producer with enterprising instincts, Lee Daniels was born in Philadelphia on Dec. 24, 1959. His police officer father was killed in the line of duty when Daniels was just a boy, leaving his mother to raise five young children by herself.

By the time Daniels was 21, the aspiring screenwriter owned a nursing agency in Hollywood and eventually sold it, turning a pretty profit and using the proceeds to bankroll Monster's Ball (2001), his first project as a film producer. He also worked briefly as a casting director.

Daniels made his directorial debut with the acclaimed indie Shadowboxer (2005). But his sophomore effort, Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, cemented his reputation as a rising cinematic force. The film earned multiple Oscar nominations, including a Best Director nod for Daniels, who became the second African-American to earn that honor.

Lee Daniels in Lee Daniels' The Butler

Lee Daniels' The Butler

2013 PG-13

Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker delivers a powerful performance as Cecil Gaines, who served as the White House butler under eight presidents. His three decades of service unfold against a backdrop of unparalleled change in American history.

  • Lee Daniels in Empire Empire
  • Lee Daniels in Precious: Based on the Novel by Sapphire Precious: Based on the Novel by Sapphire
  • Lee Daniels in The Paperboy The Paperboy
  • Lee Daniels in Shadowboxer Shadowboxer