“What I love best about my job,” said Lee Daniels in a past interview, “is that I can hire talented people of color to work in all departments, to work on ‘Empire.’ It’s one of the best parts of my job!”
I’ve never forgotten the smile that spread over the handsome face of Daniels and the sincere squeeze of my hand that accented the statement.
He’s not kidding. He helped build many careers, including unit photographer Anne Marie Fox, who was profiled in this newspaper in 2014.
He’s fighting the good fight. That’s what a champion of the working artist should be like—they should all be like Daniels.
So it was not a surprise that the Screen Actors Guild Foundation will honor Daniels, along with Megan Ellison and Rob Marshall, with its first Patron of the Artists Awards. The foundation will honor the trio at its 30th anniversary celebration Nov. 5 at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills.
“This year, the SAG Foundation celebrates 30 years of giving back to the community, and our three Patron of the Artists Award recipients are class acts known for generously contributing to a worldwide community of artists,” said SAG Foundation President JoBeth Williams. “Each has discovered, nurtured and propelled creative talent both in front and behind the camera—Lee for diversity in storytelling and casting, Megan as a next-generation patron for auteur filmmakers and Rob for reviving the musical genre and giving actors opportunities to showcase different talents.”
The nonprofit foundation previously announced Leonardo DiCaprio will receive the Actors Inspiration Award at the event.
Daniels directed “Lee Daniels’ the Butler,” “Precious” and “Shadowboxer.” His production company, Lee Daniels Entertainment, made its feature film debut with “Monster’s Ball.”
Daniels is currently working on the television series “Empire” for Fox, for which he wrote and directed the pilot and serves as co-creator.
Ellison is a producer and founder of Annapurna Pictures, which was behind Best Picture Oscar nominees “American Hustle,” “Her” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” It also produced “Foxcatcher”; David O. Russell’s upcoming film “Joy,” starring Jennifer Lawrence; and Richard Linklater’s “Everybody Wants Some.”
Marshall most recently directed and produced “Into the Woods.” He also directed “Chicago,” “Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Nine” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.” Marshall is a six-time Tony Award nominee. He executive produced, directed and choreographed “Tony Bennett: An American Classic,” for which he won three Emmy Awards and a DGA Award.