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Making Precious

An interview with Lee Daniels and Gabourey Sidibe

By Sergio A. Mims

Since it made its premiere this past January at the Sundance Film Festival, few films have been as acclaimed or talked about than Precious. Based on the bestselling book, Push, by Sapphire, the film relates the tale of Precious, an overweight, unloved, pregnant, abused teen living a horrific existence and her painful and uplifting journey to self acceptance and love.

Precious is the second film to be directed by Lee Daniels, a former talent manager turned filmmaker.

After a talent search for months to find the perfect person to play Precious, Daniels discovered Gabourey Sidibe, a 24-year old college student and receptionist from Harlem with very little previous acting experience. Just last week we had a chance to talk to Daniels and Sidibe about her experience working on the film, why Daniels decided to direct such a difficult story and why he loves to make controversial films.

EBONY (to Daniels): You had a very successful career first as a talent manager then as a producer making films like Monster’s Ball and The Woodsman. Why did you decide to move into directing? There aren’t many film producers who have done that. Perhaps some creative urge that wasn’t being fulfilled?

DANIELS: I started out as a director in theater, which led me to casting, which led me to managing actors, which led me then to producing, which then led to directing. I’ve just come full circle. So people know me for my producing work, but I started out in theater. I had a life before Monster’s Ball.

EBONY: But why the choice to direct Precious yourself instead of doing the obvious and getting a black female director like, for example, Julie Dash (Daughters of the Dust) or Gina Prince Bythewood (Love and Basketball, The Secret Life of Bees) to direct?

DANIELS: I always like to take a fresh approach and a different approach to whatever material that I attack. With Monster’s Ball, for example, I chose not an African American, not a white American but a non-American (German/Swiss director Marc Forster) to tell that story of racism because he would tell it from a very childlike perspective, a naïve perspective. With The Woodsman, through the eyes of a pedophile, I sought out a woman (director Nicole Kassell) to tell the story because I knew she would have a naïve and innocent perspective and view on this male pedophile.

For me and Precious, I love women and I thought that if I were to have a woman tell the story then the story would be told in a specific way and not from the viewpoint I wanted. And I think that I handled it differently than how a woman would have.

For more on this interview visit :