Daniels, whose film Precious made him only the second black director to have ever been nominated for an Oscar, has spoken about his frustration with those who claim the past two years of all-white nominees is a clear sign of industry racism.
“Go out and do the work,” he said to the New York Times. “Oscars so white! So what? Do your work. Let your legacy speak and stop complaining, man. Are we really in this for the awards?”
He also believes that a defeatist way of thinking about Hollywood would have prevented him from achieving success. “If I had thought that way – that the world was against me – I wouldn’t be here now,” he said. “These whiny people that think we’re owed something are incomprehensible and reprehensible to me. I don’t expect acknowledgment or acceptance from white America. I’m going to be me.”
Daniels has since gone onto achieve success with the hit TV drama Empire and new show Star, for which he cast a white actor in the lead to help America feel more unified. “I felt that the country, instinctively, I thought, needed to heal,” he said in a recent interview. “And I thought that this white girl is so fabulous that black people will embrace her and white people will embrace her.”
The next set of Oscar nominations will be announced on 24 January, and experts are predicting a more diverse set of nominees with Moonlight, Fences and Hidden Figures all expected to be in the race.