Lee Daniels' Message to Actors of Color: 'Stop Complaining and Do the Work'

Producer-director Lee Daniels
Rochelle Brodin/Getty Images for Haute Living

There has to be some irony in the fact that Lee Daniels has put actors of color on blast when it comes to the lack of diversity in Hollywood. For a director who has openly talked about the adversity he's faced in Hollywood, and one who has modeled not one, but two television series about his own "rise" to fame, Daniels seems to think that actors of color should stop being angry.

In an interview with the New York Times, Daniels gave advice to those actors who spoke out during the #OscarsSoWhite controversy: “Go out and do the work. Oscars so white! So what? Do your work. Let your legacy speak and stop complaining, man. Are we really in this for the awards?”


“If I had thought that way—that the world was against me—I wouldn’t be here now,” he told the Times. “These whiny people that think they’re owed something are incomprehensible and reprehensible to me. I don’t expect acknowledgment or acceptance from white America. I’m going to be me.”

Previously Daniels caught flak during an appearance on The Real, when he stated that he didn't embrace racism and it didn't play a role in his career.

“I wouldn’t be where I was if I embraced racism,” he said on the show at the time. “If I embraced it, then it became real. And if it became real, I would be an angry black man.”

But let's talk about Daniels' "legacy" comment for a second. If Hollywood isn't giving the same number of actors of color a shot as it does for every other Ben Affleck-like or Jennifer Lawrence-like person who instantly becomes the "next big thing," then how does Daniels suppose these actors actually start to create a legacy?


Should they all depend on his movies and TV series to give them their big break so they can create a legacy? I mean, that could have happened for a lucky black actress-singer out there for his new series Star, but he chose a white actress to star in a show about three struggling R&B singers. I think It's kind of hard to let your legacy speak when Hollywood won't even give you a shot to create a legacy.

A lot of black people out there consistently roll their eyes at Daniels, and it's because of remarks like these. But I doubt he cares, since he's somehow helped himself get to the top without racism being involved.


Or so he thinks.

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