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Director Lee Daniels has been very bold in his opposition of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, and his speech at SXSW today only further proved why.

Nothing was off limits during Daniels’s hour long keynote speech. The filmmaker spoke off-the-cuff about every topic imaginable – from his rags to riches story, to Trump’s president and, most notably, where he stands with the ongoing diversity in Hollywood debate.

“Maybe I don’t understand the Oscars hashtag ‘#SoWhite […] because I paid my own way,” The Empire creator explained, “I don’t want to say the wrong thing. I know I’ll read about it tomorrow. [But] I believe we’ve created a generation [that] feels entitled.”

Daniels, who made a name for himself with films like Monster’s Ball and Precious, says that while he’s very aware that racism in the entertainment industry is alive and well, he feels this onus is on Black people to do the work. “No one in Hollywood owes me anything. I owe me something. […] I’m a 57-year-old man who watched his dad be called a nigger and watched him cry. So I know racism is real, but I’m not going to let it define me or stop me.”

This isn’t the first time Daniels has been vocal about his stance. “Go out and do the work,” he said in a profile with the New York Times. “Oscars so white! So what? Do your work. Let your legacy speak and stop complaining, man. Are we really in this for the awards?”

The self-proclaimed “wind-up doll,” also talked about his come up from the projects in Philadelphia and the fact that he was once homeless when first arriving in Los Angeles. From there, he started working as a receptionist before starting his own nursing business, which he eventually sold for millions to start work as a production assistant for the movie Purple Rain, starring the late great Prince.

“Every time Warners fired me, [Prince] would hire me,” Daniels said. “I don’t even think I have a credit on the movie. I have to check IMDB.” (He is not credited for the film on IMDB, in case you were wondering.)

“That’s why I applaud these young filmmakers who go out and do their own thing, so you can take Hollywood to the bank when it comes to selling your sh-t.”


Lee Daniels Doesn’t Co-Sign #OscarsSoWhite: “No One In Hollywood Owes Me Anything.”  was originally published on