Lee Daniels Reveals Patti LaBelle Helped Him Through Addiction

by Taylor Handberry Staggers

February 23, 2021

Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images and Charles Sykes/Getty Images

During a recent interview to promote his film, The United States vs. Billie Holiday, Lee Daniels revealed that Patti LaBelle helped him out of addiction. 

Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage

During his conversation with The Guardian, Daniels explained that a great deal of his motivation to do the upcoming film came from his understanding and empathy towards Billie Holiday‘s addiction. 

“Part of the reason I wanted to tell Billie’s story is, I understand addiction and the artist. I also understand the feeling of a lack of self-worth, thinking that you aren’t talented. When your father tells you things like that at a young age, no matter how old you get, that voice is in your head.”

The Monster’s Ball director went on to explain that a phone call with legendary Patti LaBelle changed his life. 

“Patti LaBelle was the cause of my sobriety. I called her one night at 3am – it was when I was doing Precious [in 2008], and I kept rambling at her. She said to me, ‘You know God and you know Jesus,’ and I said, ‘Are you really gonna ruin my high now? What are you talking about, lady?’ But I said a prayer and that was the beginning for me.” 

This revelation comes just a few weeks after the native revealed that the Holiday biopic would be the first film project he’s produced or directed soberDaniels also credited his recovery to his niece and nephew, twins that he adopted from his brother twenty-five years ago when they were three months old.

(Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

The 61-year old doesn’t frequently talk about his past drug use but explained that this dialogue is essential in telling the story of Billie Holiday and staying sober.

“I’m a little nervous talking about it. But it is important because it affected Billie, it affected me, and addiction is real. Unless I am talking about it, I am not going to stay sober.”

The United States vs. Billie Holiday, starring Andra Day as the leading lady, is set to release on Hulu on February 26. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction you can contact the National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Hotline at 1-800-662-4357 or visit SAMHSA.gov for help.

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