'Empire' Creator Lee Daniels Honors His Mother in Heart-wrenching Time 100 Speech

by Zach Seemayer 12:59 AM PDT, April 23, 2015
Photo: Getty Images

Lee Daniels took the opportunity at the Time 100 gala on Tuesday to thank his mom, Clara Watson, for her support and to also give her the credit he says she deserves for his incredible success.

"This evening is for my mom, because she knew that I was destined for something," Daniels, 55, said during a toast he gave at the star-studded event, where he was one of the night's celebrated honorees.

Daniels, the creator of the hit Fox series Empire and director of the acclaimed dramas Precious and The Butler, acknowledged that his life easily could have gone very differently had it not been for the love and support of his mother.

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"My mom knew early on that I was gay. And she knew that I had to get out of the ghetto," Daniels said.

Detailing the difficult life he lead when he was younger, Daniels told the crowd, "I watched friends die in my arms, at five, six, at eight. When I grew up, the rest of my friends died of AIDs. That I don't have HIV is a miracle from God."

"So this evening is for my mom," Daniels added. "I love her from the bottom of my heart, and I honor her tonight, because this is really for her."

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The director concluded his powerful, emotional toast by asking his mother to stand up. As she did so, the room burst into applause as Daniels expressed his love for her directly.

Check out the video below for a look at some of the other stars who topped Time's list of the most influential people.