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Lee Daniels Empire Cast: Fox’s Hip-Hop Drama

The creator of Empire had a father who disowned him for being gay.  Despite his difficult past, he has found success and just keeps working harder!

Lee Daniel’s Empire Cast, Fox’s employees of the year, are gearing up for the second round of the Empire TV series.  Lee Daniels, producer of the hip-hop drama is yet to confirm as to whether Oprah Winfrey will make a guest appearance this season.

Lee Daniels Empire Cast Fox's Hip Hop Drama
Lee Daniels Empire Cast: Fox Hip Hop Drama

Cookie will have to share Empire’s throne this season: The second season of Fox’s Empire cast will include Mariah Carey, Pitbull, Marisa Tomel and more.  Chris Rock sent a shout out on Lee Daniels Instagram in June with Terrence Howard.  Rock will also make an appearance this season.

Lee Daniels Producer of Empire
Lee Daniels Producer of Empire

Fox Empire Cast
Fox Empire Cast

Empire Series Lee Daniels
Empire Series Lee Daniels

Lee Daniels was trending this past week after the co-creator of Empire dropped the F-bomb online in response to the Emmy snubs of Empire.  It all started on July 16, 2015 after the Emmy nominations were announced and Empire was left out the top category for dramas.

Or maybe we should go back further…

Lee Daniels and Danny Strong worked together on the 2013 film, “The Butler,” a movie loosely based on the life of Eugene Allen, a butler at the White House for 34 years and through eight administrations.

Hip-Hop x Fox
In 2013, Fox decided to explore the creation by the Danny-Daniels-Duo, Empire, a family drama set in the world of hip-hop.  Four months prior to Fox’s decision a multiple network bidding war took place between the Big 4 broadcasters.  Daniels and Strong teamed up with producer Brian Grazer to create the series.

Empire is the first television show that Daniels has directed while Strong began his career with HBO’s Emmy-winning miniseries “Game Change” and “Recount.”  Strong explains that he came up with the idea for a hip-hop movie, while driving through Los Angeles, after hearing a song by “Jay-Z or Puffy” and he then contacted Daniels.

Daniels told Strong that his idea should not be a movie, instead it would make a great television series:

The show was an instant success, shattering records as the breakout hit of 2015.  Season 1 of Empire had the momentum that network executives pray for.  Most new series are lucky if they are able to gain new viewers at all during the first season whereas Empire gained viewers every single week of the show’s first season.

Emmy-less Empire
Considering Empire’s success, Daniels’ (and the world’s) natural reaction to the Emmy voters sounded something like this: “F— those motherf—ers!”

Despite the advice from Empire star Jussie Smollett, Daniels’ decides to speak his mind.  Daniels simply said what everyone was thinking yet disrespect’ is the easiest crime to prove these days.

Vanitry Fair reports that Cookie would have been proud of Daniels’ reaction to the Emmy snub.  We think Cookie would have been the one dropping the F-bombs if any member of the Lyon’s den was denied the credit that he, or she, deserved.

Lets take a look at the Lee Daniels’ career to try to make sense of this entire situation.

Lee Louis Daniels was born on December 24, 1959 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Daniels had a difficult relationship with his father, a cop who was once hired to protect Muhammad Ali.

In one of the most powerful scenes from Empire’s pilot episode Lucious stuffs his son in a trash can after seeing him wearing high heels.  In January 2014, Daniels’ told Ebony that the scene was real and from his very own life.  After seeing his son in high heel, Lee Daniels’ father put him in a trash can.

Daniels told Out, When I came out it was because I loathed my dad so much–I couldn’t understand how you could, with an extension cord, beat a 45-pound kid just because he’s aware of his femininity.”

Despite the fact that Daniels’ father abused him, Lee Daniels still credits his father for his talent: “Anything artistic I got, I got from him,” Daniels has said.

“In West Philadelphia Born and Raised…” The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
Daniels grew up in West Philadelphia with his mother who was a maid.  He lived next door to a couple who worked for Flyers owner Ed Snider.  Daniels used Snider’s address to attend Radnor High School, an affluent Main Line institution.

“I used Ed Snider’s address,” Daniels says.  “And had I not gone to that school, I don’t know that I would be here today.  I would not have been so good, I’m certain of that.  I have very few friends that I grew up with that are alive, and many relatives that are gone, too.  So my mother instinctively knew that she needed to do something radical, even if it was illegal, and that was to stick me in the car, pretend that I had an address in Villanova, and I rode with the butler.  Every day I rode to work with a butler and a maid.”

The College Dropout
Lee Daniels spent two-years at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri before dropping out to pursue other goals.  After dropping out of college Daniels moves to Los Angeles to chase his dreams of becoming a Hollywood writer.  His dreams are cut short when he is unable to find work in Los Angeles.  In order to survive, Daniels works as a receptionist at a nursing agency.  He works hard and is promoted to a management position.

Daniels hard work enabled him to start his own business: He founded his own health care agency that provided nurses to hospitals while he was attempting to become a screenwriter.  The success of his staffing company enabled Daniels to start working as a casting director and manager.

Similar to the way in which he worked hard to succeed in the health industry, Daniels did the same as a director, leading him to a successful producing and directing career.

Prior to Empire, Daniels was best known for his 2009 film Precious.  In 2002, Daniels became the first sole African American producer of an Oscar-winning film for “Monster Ball.”  “My mom said to me prior to ‘Empire,’ prior to even ‘Butler,’ ‘Can’t you do movies like Tyler Perry?'” Daniels recalled.

We are sure that Daniels’ mother meant no harm, yet there are many critics out there Daniels and Perry are different yet Daniels will not receive the credit that he deserves as it is much easier to neglect his talent and criticize his masterpieces.

Daniels was also snubbed for “The Butler” in 2013.  The historical drama is the type of film that the Academy typically celebrates and it was one of 2013’s big success stories earning $116 million at the domestic box office.

Innocent – Carry On
Lee Daniels has been through it all: A father who handled his son’s homosexuality horribly, living in the shadow of Tyler Perry and not receiving the credit he deserves for “The Butler.”  The Empire snub marks yet another obstacle that Daniels must overcome: Why should I create greatness if it will not be appreciated?

Thank you Lee Daniels.

By Jason John

Jason John is based in Maryland and covers Empire BBK’s News and Entertainment. He was previously a producer for the mobile site, helping to present Empire BBK’s news report to readers. More