The Butler’s Lee Daniels has seen widespread success in Hollywood, but that doesn’t mean he views himself as having the freedom to speak candidly about the bias of his white bosses in Hollywood. In a recent interview with KCRW, Daniels, who is openly gay, shied away from a thorny conversation about bias against blacks in Hollywood, admitting that he was too “afraid” to go there.
From Shadow and Act:
Daniels talks in detail about the making of the film, and specifically addresses being an *out* gay black filmmaker in Hollywood. One of the more distressing, although *understandable* things that Daniels shares during the conversation comes towards the end of it, when he’s asked to comment specifically on Hollywood’s acceptance of black artists, versus gay artists, versus black gay artists, Daniels replies, stating that he’s actually “afraid” to answer the question, and that he’ll have to remain silent on it, because, “I want to work.“
Daniels is certainly not the only filmmaker, black or otherwise, to recoil at the idea of criticizing Hollywood, but Daniels may seem out of place when one considers directors like Spike Lee and John Singleton, who full throatedly address Hollywood bias.
Unlike Daniels, 2 Fast 2 Furious director John Singleton recently wrote a piece for the Hollywood Reporter where he questioned the wisdom of allowing white filmmakers to tell black stories.
“The Help‘s $170 million domestic box office set a new paradigm for how Hollywood wants its black pictures: uplifting, sentimental and inoffensive. It’s no one individual filmmaker’s fault. It reflects the latent racism that influences what gets made and what doesn’t in the studio system,” wrote Singleton.