Lee Daniels Thanks God for Spike Lee

Black Academy Awards Series: Precious filmmaker gets real on Django, Oscar nods and his fellow director.

Lee Daniels at the Academy Awards nominee luncheon in 2010 (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Lee Daniels at the Academy Awards nominee luncheon in 2010 (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

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 LD: Directing Oprah was fabulous. It was wonderful. She’s wonderful. She is a very enlightened human being, very caring. She wasn’t what I expected; I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t that. It was a joy, an utter joy. And I’m trying to find something else with her to do.

TR: Some people felt Django Unchained shone a light on part of the African-American story.  What do you think?

LD: You know, this is a first because I’ve avoided this question. But I’m going to give you the real. Django Unchained — I was deeply hurt by the movie. I was deeply offended by the movie. The movie made me angry. [Quentin Tarantino] has no right to our word; he has no right to that n-word. None. None. And thank you, Spike Lee, for speaking up and for having the balls to speak up. Thank God Spike Lee finally spoke up. I thought I was going crazy. Nobody else said anything; it was like everybody else thought it was great. No, it’s not great for you to use “nigger,” man! Who do you think you are?

I can’t talk about it because it’s very upsetting. And I’m expressing my opinion just like everybody expresses their opinion about my films one way or the other … There were great performances in the film. But I think African Americans, because we’re so hungry to see ourselves on the big screen, we’ll see anything.

TR: Do you think black people are a little too sensitive when it comes to in the n-word?

LD: No, I think we have to be sensitive about it. Anyone who’s seen my movie The Paperboy knows exactly what I’m talking about. I make a big deal about the usage of the word. That word is a nasty word. It’s a vile word. I think that we own the word. Period.

I can’t judge from a white man’s perspective if he’s using the n-word. He made that word up in a negative way, so if he’s using it, then it’s negative to me. He has no right to it. I think that we own the word and we can do with it as we will … Does a woman like being called “bitch” a certain way? … Do Jews like being called their derogatory word? There’s always that word that will send a certain person that it is said of into rage. It should. Do I like being called “fag”? No, no! I’m sorry; you don’t own that — I do.

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