Truth be told

Posted on 12 Oct 2009 at 8:21pm


CUT AND PRINT | Lee Daniels, left and newcomer Gabourey ‘Gabby’ Sidibe, center, are creating buzz with their new film, ‘Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire.’

Dallas Voice: Are you fine with your work considered darker dramas?

LD: I don’t look at it that way. I think the studio system underestimates the American public. Anything that makes you think is considered controversial or dark.

The book is pretty major. How was it for you to read?

I read the book and it stuck to me like hot grits. I never read anything like it.

You said Sapphire isn’t too keen on Hollywood and yet she has a cameo in the film. How did you do that?

I stalked her for eight years. She doesn’t like Hollywood but having her there was good luck for the film.

For an indie film, this is sort of a period piece.

It would have been cheaper to do it in the now instead of 1987. But I felt if we had done it, the impact of HIV wouldn’t have been the same.

You cover a lot of bases here – obesity, poverty, pregnancy, illiteracy. That’s a lot already.

There’s so many messages this movie has. If you catch me on the right day, I’ll give you a different message. Someone brought up last night that all the light-skinned people are the saviors of my movies. I had to think about it. I like all my movies. They are my babies, my kids. That’s my soul up there on the screen. I learned making this movie that I was racist. If you look a certain way, then you gotta be a certain way. We are subliminally brainwashed as children. You realize these things.

Did someone seriously ask you if there wsa going to be a sequel?

Yes. Precious the Musical!

Mo’Nique was phenomenal as was the entire cast. How did you get those performances from unlikely actors? =

I knew Mo’nique was gonna do it. There’s a trust that’s there. If you trust someone, you get great performances. Lenny Kravitz was the same way. Helen Mirren was to play the Mariah Carey character. Three days before she was scheduled to shoot, she backed out for another job. Mariah Carey happened to call and a light bulb went off. I asked Helen, ‘"What do you think of Mariah Carey?" And she said "It would be more interesting than casting me. If you can get her to do something powerful, it will be great."

You’ve had your own experiences with abuse. How does your own childhood come through in this movie?

I married my own DNA to this book. I related very much to this story. I had seen some atrocities growing up. It was more the taste and fabric and smells of the world I had. I married my experience to the book. I hope I’m able to do that again. I hope I was fortunate to find stuff from my past to bring to my next film.

You’re an out director. How does that affect your filmmaking sensibilities?

Why are you all up in my grill?

I did my research!

Yes, I’m an out director. I’m a gay director. Yes. Does that bring a different sensibility? There’s a gay sensibility in my films because I’m free. I’m uninhibited and unedited.  That’s problematic for people because I don’t give a fuck. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me except my kids. At the end of the day, I want to tell the truth and the truth will set you free. I wanna live in my truth. I think it’s very powerful.

Thank you. Ay yay yay!

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