Lee Daniels Says It’s A Miracle He Doesn’t Have AIDS
Lee Daniels has never been one to mince words or shy away from some real talk, but this may be the realest thing we’ve ever heard him say.
On March 22, the “Empire” and “Star” co-creator spoke at Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film & TV and opened up about a very dark time in his life – when the AIDS epidemic hit.
Lee opened up about losing all of his friends to AIDS and how he went into a downward spiral of drugs and unprotected sex in bath houses so that he too, could contract the disease and die.
He admitted, “That I don’t have AIDS is a miracle from God.”
And then something called AIDS hit. And we were the first agency — no one wanted to touch AIDS patients. I was the first agency under AIDS Project LA. And that’s where we made an enormous amount of money, taking care of a lot dying patients. Simultaneously, all my friends were dying again. It’s so exciting, the yin and the yang of it all. I was making an enormous amount of money. I came from extreme poverty. I didn’t know what to do with the money, so what do you do? Houses, clothes, I don’t know. Drugs, parties, at 22, 23-ish. And still directing theater.
And AIDS hit. And again, it wiped away all of my friends. I had no friends. And we were all together because their parents weren’t taking them in. And we were burying each other, because most parents, 90 percent of the parents, were not taking them in. And it hit the community hard. It was terrifying, because we never knew whether you could drink from glasses or what it was. It was the most terrifying thing ever. And I didn’t understand why it was that I wasn’t [dead], because there were far better souls than me that were going. I thought that I needed to go. And so I descended into drugs and into sexual bath houses to die. That I don’t have AIDS is a miracle from God. I don’t understand it. I really don’t understand it. Because I should have had HIV. Everybody else did.
Many years ago my Great-Grandmother told me a story about man who tried to kill himself several times, but the Lord wouldn’t allow him to die.
The moral of her story is no matter what we think we’re doing or what plans we have for our lives – God has the final say so.
I’m sure Lee Daniels is counting his blessings every day.
Read the full transcript of Lee’s in-depth interview at The Hollywood Reporter.