Creativity 50 2015

Creativity 50 2015: Lee Daniels

Director

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Lee Daniels
Lee Daniels Credit: Scott Kirkland/FOX
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It's perhaps not much of an exaggeration to say Lee Daniels has saved, or at the very least, seriously revived confidence in broadcast TV with his hip-hop soap "Empire." The Fox drama has been lauded for helping to diversify broadcast TV with its predominantly African-American cast and a plot that touches on such themes as homophobia.

And when TV networks are struggling to aggregate large audiences to watch programming live, "Empire" broke records in its freshman season when it grew ratings week-to-week, a feat that hasn't been accomplished in the modern TV era. In its second season, "Empire" partnered with Pepsi for a meta product placement that culminated in a real Pepsi commercial starring the character Jamal Lyon. For his part, Mr. Daniels made a cameo playing the director of the commercial, and he was also the director in real life.