Put Precious director Lee Daniels down as someone who is “just happy” to be nominated for an Oscar.
He still wants to win, he admits, but his film’s six nominations have helped him recognize the importance of Hollywood’s greatest achievement, win or lose.
“I really [used to] believe that was bull,” Daniels said of what he once thought was just political correctness on the part of nominees. “And until my Oscar nomination, did I really understand the gravity of what the honor meant to [just] ‘be at the party.’”
Daniels is the second African-American to be nominated for best director. (John Singleton, Boyz N the Hood) Precious, which recently won six NAACP Image Awards, is the story of a 16-year-old girl from Harlem, New York, who battles abuse, poverty and sexual assault.
Daniels said the film’s story is too often ignored by Hollywood.
“When has there ever been an African-American movie about a girl of her size who grows…and overcomes all adversity?” Daniels asks.
Precious hasn’t been immune to criticism, especially from black film critics. Some labeled the film degrading and its characters typical black stereotypes.
”[African-Americans] have to get out of the ‘Huxtable’ mode of trying to be perfect,” Daniels said of the famous Cosby Show family. “There’s so many elements of African-American culture and families that we choose not to examine.”
Daniels’ next project, Selma, will examine the struggles blacks endured to obtain voting rights.
But now, as Daniels says, the Precious train is still rolling. And Sunday’s Oscars could be a fitting final stop.
“A win [would be] icing on the cake,” Daniels said. “I’ve had plenty of cakes without any icing on it.”