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Lee Daniels and 'Star' Cast Prepare to Face Controversial Episode


Lee Daniels, director, writer and executive producer is no stranger to creating hot headlining drama. Daniels is best known for his box office successors Oscar-winning Monster's Ball, Precious, and The Butler. In 2015, Lee Daniels' took his career to the next level debuting one of the biggest series on TV, "Empire." Despite Empire's enormous success, hasn't excused the recieving of criticism on some of its content including having an openly gay lead character. Much of Daniels' work aims at unspoken narratives told in film and television through black characters.

“White women get a chance to play all types of characters. Black women don’t get that. We don’t like to see them flawed. To me that doesn’t leave room for growth.”
Critics and viewers have found themselves encountering uncomfortable topics through Daniels' productions such as incarceration, homosexuality, rape, drug abuse, racism, molestation and poverty which tugs on personal emotions. Lee Daniels' personal life as an openly gay black man has also invited the public a front seat to criticize his work.
"Me living in my truth has caused quite a controversy and also upset a lot of African Americans. It has also liberated many Americans. My work speaks for itself and the body of work I have speaks for itself. Empire has done what it has done because of me living in my truth. Me living in my truth is Empire. Star is what it is. The Butler was what it was. Precious was what it was."
Empire has revolutionized television infusing several story lines of a black family coming from nothing to something building an Hip-Hop empire. His prime time award-winning show has given Daniels the confidence to continue to push the envelope and create visuals that will have you clutching your pearls. For Lee Daniels it's not about glorifying or exploiting certain subjects or types of people, it's about telling the truth and celebrating those surviving it. The truth sometimes hurts. His newest project "Star" instantly landed Daniels backlash when he spoke on creating a lead white character.

"Everything I do receives backlash and it hurts me," he recently shared during a press call. Star has picked up Empire's Wednesday night spot on FOX as the show is in production for its upcoming season. The show stars veterans to the big screen Queen Latifah, Tyrese Gibson and Benjamin Bratt, in addition to fresh young talent Jude Demorest (Star), Ryan Destiny, Brittany O'Grady, Quincy Brown, Jasmine Burke and Amiyah Scott.

Star came out the gate swinging and hasn't held back on any controversy thus far as the heat turns up a notch weekly. Star's latest episode will touch heavily on Cotton (Amiyah Scott), the trans-daughter of Carlotta (Queen Latifah). Cotton's character has developed with each episode as Carlotta struggles to accept Cotton is no longer her baby boy Arnold. As Carlotta has turned from the street life, she has found comfort in Pastor Harris (Tyrese) who has also turned a new leaf.

Star is Tyrese's television series debut as a recurring character. Through his social media, Tyrese has openly campaigned his interest in working with Lee Daniels on Empire. Over the years the public has grown to love Tyrese the actor in action packed films such as Transformers, Fast & Furious and Four Brothers. Portraying Pastor Harris has been quite a change for Tyrese and has become one of his biggest challenges yet. In Star's newest episode Pastor Harris and Cotton will face one on one in an provoking exchange, will shake up prime time television.

Tyrese Gibson enlightened press alongside Lee Daniels that throughout his years in the industry he's encountered several different people including gay men, but Amiyah Scott is the first transgender person he's ever met. He lightly jokes upon getting to know Amiyah,  “Man I’m over here hugging a transgender right now. I’m the most hood n***a from South Central LA.”

Filming Star has broken stereotypical barriers between gay, straight, black, white and the shades in between. Through the creation of art different walks of life together have been bought together with love and understanding behind the scene, which Lee Daniels hopes viewers will take away implementing into their own lives.

Tyrese Gibson on filming controversial scene with Amiyah Scott:
"The struggle was real for me. I am a Christian man by faith there is a particular belief system that we've all been raised to believe. I had to talk to Lee Daniels to consult with him. I didn't want anyone in the LGBTQ community to come after me. When I got to set and I was able to meet Amyiah and we were able to work on the goal and vision that made it easier. To be honest it was all uncomfortable to shoot and very uncomfortable to watch. If I've never found myself having a heart for a transgender and some of the things they've had to deal with, I have a heart for it now."
Amiyah Scott known primarily to the public from social platform Instagram has been awarded a larger platform to not only show her acting talent, but to live in her truth. Scott not only plays a transgender woman, but is a proud trans woman in real life. Scott signifyed what this fictional yet real scene meant to her:
"Filming this scene hasn't changed me because this has happened to me in real life. I have been prayed over. To see raw the emotion from Tyrese and Queen Latifah didn't feel personal to me, it felt personal to everyone. I think its going to make others sit back and think about how they treat others. You can only image how it feels in real life. Why is it something wrong with me wanting to be who I am? Its almost monstrous." 
Star airs Wednesdays on FOX at 9pm EST. Watch the trailer below for the show's most controversial episode yet!


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