Director Lee Daniels Talks Suicidal Thoughts & Race Relations In Film

After serving box offices with his hit movie The Butler, Lee Daniels spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about his abusive childhood and why he thinks it’s important for Hollywood to continue churning out race-related films.

The 54-year-old movie man “had a rough childhood growing up”, from being the victim of physical abuse from his late father and bullying.

“[I was bullied] because I was gay,” he says, “And then I was bullied because I was black going to an all-white school later on.” He describes how “oftentimes I wanted to kill myself as a kid.”

Still, the struggle has made him stronger, given his successful foray into Hollywood. For his latest project The Butler, he calls the film “the most important thing I’ve ever done in my career.”

Daniels made it as a tribute to his mom and grandmother who took part in the Civil Rights Movement, as well as a lesson to his adopted son: “My kid didn’t understand why he’s being followed; this movie explains it.”

With color commentary running the news mill following the Trayvon Martin case, the Barneys racial profiling incidents and movies like Fruitvale Station and 12 Years A Slave filling theaters, Daniels says it’s important that Hollywood contributes to the race discussion in America.

“I love that these stories are coming up for everybody to shine a light on the injustices that America has done to its American citizens,” he said.

Read the full interview here.

Photo Credit: Getty