Fox 2015 Winter TCA"Empire" creator Lee Daniels -- who also directed "Precious" and "The Butler" -- always speaks his mind, and in a Drama Showrunner Roundtable with The Hollywood Reporter, he spoke candidly on his feelings about race and representation on television.

"Nothing is more beautiful now than to go into this room, to the writers room of 'Empire,'" Lee said, via THR. "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. As he put it, "Black people hate white people writing for black people. It's so offensive." He added, "Forget the success of 'Empire.' What is important is that people of color know that they are wanted."

Well, we can agree with that last thought. It's about time we had more perspectives shown on TV -- not just from actors, although it's good to see more diversity on screen -- but behind-the-scenes as showrunners, writers, producers, and directors. But what he's suggesting is that people have to see their own reflections to have enough empathy to write characters. It seems narrow-minded, and even hypocritical. As one commenter put it (in part):

...OK, then men should also never write for women (regardless of what color they are) b/c, how is a man supposed to write about the 'female experience' if he is not female.
Or a writer can't write about a serial killer authentically unless he IS a serial killer; and interviewing a serial killer is not the same b/c the writer doesn't have 'the serial killer experience'
So Shakespeare should never have written Romeo & Juliet b/c women might find it offensive for a man to write about 'the female experience'
And Thomas Harris never should have wrote 'Silence Of The Lambs' b/c actual serial killers might be offended to have a 'sane' person write about the 'insane'...."

Another commenter wrote:

...To use Mr. Daniels' thinking, only people of a certain background should write for characters of that very same background, be it black, white, Asian, Hispanic, gay, straight, etc.
And if you accept that theory, then we certainly can't have male writers writing female characters and vice versa, because they've never lived even a second in the other gender's shoes and therefore can't accurately portray a character that different from themselves.
So, Mr. Daniels, do you dole out the writing duties on your staff according to race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. and not allow any crossover? Just male writers writing male characters, etc.?
You certainly can't have a black writer writing a Jewish lawyer or doctor, or even a redneck, for that matter. They have no real world experience in that very different lifestyle."

It does seem pretty limiting to think we can't see past ourselves to understand anyone of a different race/color/creed/sexuality. Do you think that's really what he was saying, or was he just trying to say how refreshing it is to finally see new faces in a writer's room after decades of stereotyped supporting roles and cringe-worthy misrepresentation?

Want more stuff like this? Like us on Facebook.
categories Tv News