More Lee Daniels Bios & Profiles
Biography #2 (for The Woodsman)Lee Daniels, President and CEO of Lee Daniels Entertainment, began his career in entertainment as a casting director and manager after a chance meeting with a Hollywood producer, who recognized that Daniels had the business and artistic savvy to succeed. He initially started out as a music video casting director for Prince and continued his work with the artist as Associate Casting Director for the films Under the Cherry Moon and Purple Rain.
A self-made entrepreneur, Daniels started out in the health industry by launching his own health care agency at the tender age of twenty. Since the launch of Lee Daniels Entertainment in 1984, Daniels has managed a roster of A-list talent that included Nastassja Kinski and Academy Award nominees and winners such as Morgan Freeman, Hilary Swank, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Marianne Jean Baptiste.
Monster's Ball, the first production of Lee Daniels Entertainment, was a remarkable pioneering achievement. The film marked Daniels as the first African-American sole producer of an Academy Award nominated movie and earned him a place on Variety Magazine's 10 Producers to Watch list for 2002. A critical and box office success, Monster's Ball was nominated for two Academy Awards in 2002—Best Original Screenplay and Best Actress, for which Halle Berry won an Oscar. To date, the picture is Lions Gate's most profitable film. The film earned more than $31 million at the U.S. box office (more than ten times its production cost of $2.5 million). Daniels' current project, Shadowboxer, will mark his directorial debut. Written by Academy Award-nominee Will Rokos (Monster's Ball), the film which is slated to begin shooting in Spring 2004 stars Helen Mirren, Cuba Gooding Jr., Ryan Phillippe, and comedienne Mo'Nique.
Outside of his work in film, Daniels briefly stepped into the world of politics and community development. He was recently asked by Harlem neighbor and former president Bill Clinton to produce public service announcements to inspire young people of color to vote. The effective campaign was launched in March 2004 and featured actor/musician LL Cool J and Grammy winner Alicia Keys. Daniels was honored with the President's Award from the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and currently serves on the board of The Center for Community Change based in Washington, D.C. A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Daniels was 13 years old when his father, a police officer, was killed in the line of duty, leaving his mother to raise five schoolage children on the inner city streets of West Philadelphia. After leaving Lindenwood College, Daniels moved to Los Angeles and opened the first health care agency in the United States to be under contract with the renowned AIDS Project Los Angeles. The agency also held contracts with such major organizations as the American Heart & Lung Association and the American Sickle Cell Anemia Association. After one year of the agency's launch, the initial employee roster grew from five nurses to over 500. In just two years, Daniels sold a significantly profitable business that grossed over several million dollars.
In 2002, Daniels was the recipient of the Urbanworld MECCA Visionary Award (Minority Entertainment for the Cinematic and Creative Arts), the Blockbuster Filmmaker Award from Minorities in Business magazine, and was featured in The Vibe 100, Vibe magazine's list of the 100 most influential black individuals in America. He is also the recipient of the Japanese Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film released in 2002.