Lee Daniels Thanks Patti LaBelle For His Sobriety

By May Wilkerson 03/08/16

The 56-year-old director/producer credited his sobriety to singing legend Patti LaBelle at a recent Hollywood event. 

Lee Daniels Thanks Patty LaBelle For His Sobriety
Photo via Shutterstock/DFree

While accepting the Black Entertainment Television (BET) Honors television and film award over the weekend, Lee Daniels, co-creator of the hit television drama Empire, showed some gratitude to singer Patti LaBelle for helping him get sober.

“La, that I’m even here with you tonight, when you were responsible for me getting off drugs, I love you," he said to the crowd, which included fellow honoree LaBelle.

“I called her up one night at three o’clock in the morning,” Daniels continued. “(I was) babbling, babbling, babbling. I was high as a kite (and) she said, ‘Lee, you know Jesus?’”

This isn’t the first time Daniels has spoken about his history of substance abuse. In 2013, he told the Hollywood Reporter he had partied heavily while working as an actors’ representative in the ‘90s, managing clients like Wes Bentley and Michael Shannon. “Oh, back then, we all did drugs. I lived it up. Are you kidding?” he said, adding that he had seen Bentley miss a lot of opportunities due to his partying. “I wasn’t the best role model back then,” Daniels admitted, “but now I’ve been sober many years.”

Singer and actress LaBelle, who made a cameo on last year's season finale of Empire, has said she never used alcohol or drugs out of fear of becoming addicted. “I don’t know why people need [drugs and alcohol],” she said last year. “But some people just have to have it—it’s a crutch. I said if I ever started smoking reefer or doing cocaine, I might never stop because I have an addictive personality. I never, ever tried that stuff.”

And it seems Daniels is not the only person who the singer has helped. In presenting LaBelle with her award, singer Monica said: “She’s one of the real pioneers of soul, and she’s such an influential woman because she takes time to mentor a lot of people. She’ll take you in and talk to you about personal things, professional things.”

The event, which was hosted by Arsenio Hall and will air March 14 on BET, also paid tribute to Natalie Cole, who passed away last year. Cole's legacy, aside from winning nine Grammys, also includes beating a decades-long cocaine addiction.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.