Empire Showrunner Lee Daniels Opens Up About Drug Use, Family, And How His Kids ‘Saved’ Him

Lee Daniels opens up about his family and his past

He has quite the Empire of a story.

And the showrunner of Fox‘s smash hit musical drama, Lee Daniels, told it all on Monday at the Family Equality Council’s 10th-Annual Night at the Pier event.

In an evening celebrating LBTQ families, the Precious director took to the stage to share his emotional experience becoming a father at a time when it was the last thing on his mind.

He explained that his brother being sent off to jail is what set in motion a moment that would change his life tremendously:

“He called me and said I’m having twins. But I was in a relationship at the time, I didn’t want no twins, I didn’t want no kids! I was in Palm Springs. I think I was on Special K at the time spinning at a White Party in a skirt.”

Lee says it was his then-boyfriend — with a little help from his mother — who convinced him to take in the twins:

“My partner at the time, Billy Hopkins, told me that he wanted kids. So we drove sometime in January in a limousine to pick up my brother’s kids . . . who ended up being my kids. OUR kids.”

But the TV exec confessed he had been seriously struggling with drugs at the time. He admits to being on crack cocaine, and even had to check with Billy about whether he was doing crack or crystal meth.

[ Related: Empire Star Jussie Smollet Says ‘Homophobia Is A Human Epidemic’! ]

His addiction left him hesitant to raise his brother’s children, but he realized it was actually the best decision he could have made.

“What the hell am I doing saving these kids? But what I found was that I was not saving them. They in fact were saving me.”

Lee brought his mom, his ex, his son, Liam, and his current boyfriend Jahil on stage with him, to explain that they are “what an American family looks like.”

And Empire stars Taraji P. Henson and Jussie Smollet presented him with his award!

In spite of his crazy past, it’s clear Lee has No Apologies about how his family formed.

You can check out his entire moving speech (below)!

[Image via PNP/WENN.]

May 14, 2015 1:53pm PDT

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