Lee Daniels on 'whiny' #OscarsSoWhite controversy: 'Stop complaining'

Precious film-maker, the second black director to have ever been nominated for an Oscar, criticised those who felt offended by past two years of all-white nominees

Oscar-nominated film-maker Lee Daniels has criticised the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, saying that people need to “stop complaining”.

Daniels, whose film Precious made him only the second black director to have ever been nominated for an Oscar, has spoken about his frustration with those who claim the past two years of all-white nominees is a clear sign of industry racism.

“Go out and do the work,” he said to 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?”

He also believes that a defeatist way of thinking about Hollywood would have prevented him from achieving success.

“If I had thought that way – that the world was against me – I wouldn’t be here now,” he said. “These whiny people that think we’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.”

Daniels has since gone onto achieve success with the hit TV drama Empire and new show Star, for which he cast a white actor in the lead to help America feel more unified. “I felt that the country, instinctively, I thought, needed to heal,” he said in a recent interview. “And I thought that this white girl is so fabulous that black people will embrace her and white people will embrace her.”

The next set of Oscar nominations will be announced on 24 January, and experts are predicting a more diverse set of nominees with Moonlight, Fences and Hidden Figures all expected to be in the race.

Guardian film

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Oprah Winfrey to star in Lee Daniels' Terms of Endearment remake
The Butler director to reunite with talk show host for role which won Shirley MacLaine an Oscar in 1983

09, Feb, 2017 @10:49 AM

Article image
Lee Daniels is first African-American DGA nominee
The Precious film-maker joins the likes of Quentin Tarantino and James Cameron on the Directors Guild of America's shortlist, seen as a key indicator for Oscar success

Xan Brooks

08, Jan, 2010 @12:23 PM

Article image
Hurt Locker honoured by LA critics and American Film Institute

Kathryn Bigelow's Iraq war drama becomes an early favourite for Oscar success alongside Lee Daniels's Precious

Chai Hong Lim and agencies

14, Dec, 2009 @1:25 PM

Article image
The Butler: cameo roulette exposes today's vogue for historical mimicry | Tom Shone

Tom Shone: Lee Daniels appears to have modeled his movie on a visit to Madame Tussauds. The historical impersonation as Oscar horse is something new

Tom Shone

16, Aug, 2013 @2:47 PM

Article image
The Butler returns for a second week to clear up at the box office

Four things we learned about the US box office this weekend

Jeremy Kay

26, Aug, 2013 @12:30 PM

Article image
The black Oscar wins that got away | Peter Bradshaw
The shadow of possible Academy prejudice has loomed large over this year’s awards. So which black actors were unjustly snubbed? Whose great performance went unrewarded? The Guardian’s chief film critic on the ones that got away

Peter Bradshaw

25, Feb, 2016 @2:55 PM

Article image
Golden Globes 2014: a strong list that makes me look forward to Oscar night

Peter Bradshaw: Despite the odd surprise, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has come up with a good set of nominations – it's shaping up for an interesting awards season

Peter Bradshaw

12, Dec, 2013 @4:22 PM

Article image
Mo'Nique: I'm 'difficult', 'tacky' and was blackballed after Oscar win
Precious star who won best supporting actress award five years ago says Hollywood has shunned her for being ‘tactless’ and that parts in subsequent Lee Daniels movies were offered to her then given to Oprah Winfrey

Ben Child

19, Feb, 2015 @8:13 AM

Article image
Oscars 2014: Steve McQueen, Lee Daniels and David O Russell tipped for success

12 Years a Slave, The Butler and American Hustle joint tie in new US poll, which also strongly backs Captain Phillips, The Wolf of Wall Street, Saving Mr Banks and Inside Llewyn Davis

Ben Child

23, Aug, 2013 @3:25 PM

Article image
Mo'Nique says she was 'blackballed' by Lee Daniels after Oscar win for Precious
Director wanted to teach her a lesson after she failed to thank him on awards night, says actor

Ben Child

03, Mar, 2015 @11:24 AM