‘Live in the Most Honest Way You Can’

Courtesy Lee Daniels

To Clara and Liam

My dad didn’t know how to tell me he loved me. I know that he did, in his way. But he never told me. And what I’ve learned from him, God rest his soul, is how important it is to tell you both how much I love you, every day, even when I’m angry.

Because you really are the best of me. I look at your world, and I see one so much different than the one I grew up in. You’ve got a dad that’s black and a dad that’s white. You grew up knowing same-sex couples. So your understanding of sexuality, of race—it’s just not that of where I come from. And I learn from you every day because of it.

Clara, you want to be a filmmaker and producer, and you already know more about film than me. You’re me on steroids.

Liam, I’ll never forget your first steps. When you and Clara were both one, she started walking and you didn’t. So I was very concerned. I thought maybe you couldn’t walk. Then one day, I was playing Whitney Houston’s ‘I Believe in You and Me.’ And you didn’t just start walking—you started dancing over to me. That was a bigger moment than your birth.

When you were young, I was gone often. I had to be on the road doing films. Those were the hardest times, because I couldn’t be with you when you wanted to be with me. Then, all of a sudden, you no longer wanted to sleep with me or cuddle with me. It’s like, “I love you, bye.” You got things to do! It’s interesting how life can change so quickly in front of your eyes.

That’s why I always tell you that patience is a virtue. I know you’re anxious a lot and you’re always in a hurry, but remember to take your time. Tomorrow is not promised. So you must live in the most honest way that you can, being as kind as possible to other human beings.

That’s really the only advice I can give you, because you’re so good at giving me advice. That’s how incredible you are. That’s the plane you’re on.

I better get a Fathers’ Day gift.

Love,
Dad

Daniels is the award-winning creator of FOX’s Empire

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