An Intimate Evening with Lee Daniels
Thursday, April 23, 2015
7:15 p.m., Opening Reception and Dinner
Hotel ZaZa, 5701 Main Street
Led by Event Chair Philamena Baird with Honorary Chair Marie Bosarge, this special evening began with an opening reception and dinner. Following dinner, Lee Daniels, director of the hit television series Empire and films Precious and The Butler (which he also produced), shared his life experiences - from founding his own health care agency at age 21 to managing actors to becoming the first sole African-American producer of an Academy Award-winning film (Monster’s Ball).
Following Monster’s Ball, Lee Daniels made his directorial debut with Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire. The film received a total of six Academy Award nominations including Best Director, marking only the second time an African-American director had been nominated. Lee produced and directed The Butler, a story following the life of a White House butler who served eight U.S. presidents over three decades. The film was well received, earning numerous Critics’ Choice, Screen Actors Guild and NAACP Image Award nominations. Daniels’s latest creative project is the hit musical drama television series Empire, starring Terrence Howard as hip-hop mogul Lucious Lyons. Daniels makes his television directorial debut with the show, and after just three episodes, has been renewed for a second season.
An Intimate Evening with Lee Daniels is just one way in which Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) leverages public investment with philanthropic support to advance Houston’s arts. When HAA was formed in 2006 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the vision was to create a public/private partnership to promote the growth and visibility of the arts sector in Houston. Public funding includes city revenues from Hotel Occupancy Taxes (which fund grants to nonprofit arts organizations and individual artists) and the City of Houston’s Percent for Art Ordinance (which supports commissions of new civic art projects as well as conservation of existing artworks).
There are, however, additional projects that require private funding. As an example, Tolerance, the collection of sculptures by the renowned Spanish artist Jaume Plensa on Allen Parkway at Studemont, was realized by HAA and funded through private donations from both individuals and foundations. Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads in Hermann Park and Konstantin Dimopoulos’ The Blue Trees on Memorial Parkway were funded in the same manner.
In total, municipal funding accounts for 65% of HAA’s annual revenue. The other 35% of the budget must be raised from private sources such as individuals, foundation grants and corporate underwriting. These funds support the activities of the Folklife + Traditonal Arts program, Capacity Building Initiative, the Arts & Business Council of Greater Houston, Artshound.com and the Temporary Art Program.
HAA invited performing and visual arts aficionados to support the arts in Houston through this thoroughly engaging, special and rare opportunity to hear from one of the leading film directors and producers of our time.
Nancy C. Allen
Robert "Bobby" Bisor
Cecil C. Conner, Jr.
Lucia and Michael Cordua
Yvonne and Rufus Cormier
Susie and Sanford Criner
Joe and Susie Dilg
Lamar Frazier and Thomas Guerrero
John F. Guess, Jr. and Melanie Lawson
Paul Guillory & Leon Johnson-Guillory
Tatiana and Craig Massey
Rey Ocañas and Orlando Manzo-Ocañas
Adrian and Erin Patterson
J. Michael Trevino
Kenneth Gayle and Evin Thayer
Reginald and Leigh Smith
Alton LaDay and Jonathon Glus
ABOUT LEE DANIELS
Lee Daniels’ background is filled with bold stories as real and gritty as the narratives from the films he creates. By the age of 21, Daniels founded and ran his own health care agency, providing nurses to private homes and hospitals; he was simultaneously trying to be a screenwriter. After selling his health care business and giving up screenwriting, he began managing actors such as Loretta Divine, Michael Shannon, Natasha Kinsky and Aishwarya Rai. Daniels turned to producing as a natural result of trying to find and create great material for his clients; the organic leap to directing came soon after.
Daniels’s latest creative project is the hit musical drama television series Empire starring Terrence Howard as hip-hop mogul Lucious Lyons. Daniels makes his television directorial debut with the show, and after just three episodes, the series was renewed for a second season.
Daniels produced and directed The Butler, a story following the life of a White House butler who served eight different U.S. presidents over three decades. The film was well received by critics and earned numerous Critics Choice, Screen Actors Guild and NAACP Image Award nominations.
Daniels’s previous project, Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire, is the story of an overweight, illiterate girl raised in Harlem, sexually abused by her father and about to give birth to her second child, who salvages her future at an alternative school. Precious won two Academy Awards in 2010: Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress. The film received a total of six Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Editing, with Daniels nominated as Best Director; making him the second African-American director to be nominated for an Oscar. Daniels also received a historic nomination as the first African-American director to be nominated by the Directors Guild of America.
Following the success of Precious, Daniels next directed The Paperboy starring Nicole Kidman, John Cusack, Matthew McConaughey and Zac Efron. Based on a best-selling novel of the same name, The Paperboy revolves around a reporter and his brother who investigate the events surrounding a murder in order to exonerate an accused man on death row.
Monster’s Ball was the first film from Daniels’s production company, Lee Daniels Entertainment. The film marked Daniels as the first sole African-American producer of an Oscar-winning and -nominated film. Daniels also produced The Woodsman, which premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. Nominated for three Independent Spirit Awards, the film received the CICAE Arthouse Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, the Jury Prize at the Deauville International Film Festival and Special Mention for Excellence in Filmmaking from the National Board of Review.
Daniels’s other film credits include Shadowboxer and Tennessee.