Daniels made that fact abundantly clear while speaking to students at a lecture at Ohio State University not too long ago.
Daniels emphasized that while he and Perry make films for and about African-Americans, both men are two different people.
“My mom said, ‘I don’t understand you, everybody in church thinks something’s wrong with you — all your movies are about freaks. Why can’t you do movies like Tyler Perry?,” said Daniels, whose films include “Monsters Ball,” “Precious,” “The Paperboy,” “Shadowboxer” and “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.”
Regarding the content of his films, Daniels added that each of his movies is grounded real life experiences.
“I can’t tell what I have not experienced because it’s not truthful,” he said. “And so I have to work from what I know.”
In addition to distinguishing between him and Perry, Daniels shared a bit of his past, Clutchmagonline.com reports. The 54-year-old openly gay producer and director confessed to being bullied relentlessly as a child, and was forced to deal with an abusive father who could not accept his sexuality.
“When I was 5, my earliest memory was walking down the stairs in my mother’s red high heel shoes, and my dad — he’s a cop — is down playing cards with the boys and it was not pretty — at all,” the filmmaker remembered. “He put me in a trash can and he said that I would never be nothing. He said, ‘You already have it bad, boy, cause you’re Black — now you’re a f–got too.’”
Daniels ultimately removed himself from his father by going to LA as a teen. Prior to becoming a film director, he made ends meet by working a series of odd jobs.
Among his successes is “The Butler,” which received critical acclaim and award nods while earning $137 million at the box office. Although he has successfully overcome his childhood drama, Daniels told the crowd that his process for creating films is different from Perry’s in that he can’t just produce project after project after project. Instead, it takes him three or four years to “give birth” to a film.