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“Nothing is more beautiful now than to go into this room, to the writers room of Empire. I don’t know what gives me more pleasure: watching my story unfold or going in and watching a roomful of black people talking for me,” said Empire creator Lee Daniels during The Hollywood Reporter‘s Drama Showrunner Roundtable.
He shared his pride in creating a platform that expresses and authentic black voice, saying, “Black people hate white people writing for black people. It’s so offensive.”
“Forget the success of Empire,” he says. “What is important is that people of color know that they are wanted.”
But as a creator, you can’t please everyone, as some black viewers find the characters on the hit Fox show offensive, Daniels explained. “This is a real world, that is as honest as I can be,” he says in his defense.
Daniels and his writing and producing partner Danny Strong work intimately together through their project, but at times run into strong disagreements, particularly about the music on the show. “I have a very clear vision,” says the Oscar-nominated director. “I come from film, where the director is God, and so if there’s a clash, it’s painful, as if I’m fighting with my lover. We then have to go and fight with a production company and then fight with a network.”
The show creator joined Sarah Treem (The Affair), Michelle King (The Good Wife), Beau Willimon (House of Cards), Alex Gansa (Homeland), and Damon Lindelof (The Leftovers) for the Roundtable, where the biggest drama TV influencers discussed writing, creative collaborations, and taking risks.
The full Drama Showrunner Roundtable aired on Close Up With The Hollywood Reporter on Aug. 30, at 11 a.m. ET/PT on Sundance TV and HollywoodReporter.com. Tune in this Sunday for the next episode.
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