To celebrate the launch of TIME’s new multimedia project – 100 Photographs: The Most Influential Images of All Time – we asked leaders in a number of fields, from technology to the arts to business, to share the single photograph that most influenced their lives. Purchase the 100 Photographs book now.

When I was a kid, this photo of the divine Paula Kelly inspired me to go to the movies to see Sweet Charity. Never in my life had I seen such elegance, raw talent and breath taking honesty on screen. She is an unsung hero and the reason that I am here.

Lee Daniels is an Academy Award nominated filmmaker.

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