March 08, 2018 

By Brittany K. Jackson 

Contributing Writer 


Very rarely do you see Hollywood come together for a night to celebrate the work and accomplishments of casting directors, but this is happened for famed casting director Leah Daniels Butler recently. The younger sister to film producer and director Lee Daniels, Butler has casted some of the nation’s greatest actors for sitcoms and films such as “The Wayans Brothers”, “Love that Girl”, “Lee Daniel’s The Butler”, “Precious”, and “Empire”, to name a few.


The post Oscar celebration took place at a very swanky Hollywood venue, The District by Hannah, where we spoke to a host of celebrities decked out in their best dresses, suits and furs. In attendance were music artists Kenny Lattimore, MAJOR, Sevyn Streeter, actors Sheryl Lee Ralph, Melvin Jackson Jr., celebrity fashion designer Leontine Abdullah, comedians Michael Colyar and Alex Thomas and many more who shared their experiences working with Butler.


A very dapper Darius McCrary, known for his role on the hit TV-show family matters also showed up to the carpet with very sweet words for Butler. “She just one of the most amazing casting directors. I’m not saying that because she’s been in my life for years. I’m not saying that because people consider me to be one of her favorites,’ he said. “Leah Daniels Butler is amazing at getting you to lock in at a certain level in the room and bringing the best out of you there, unlocking some amazing nuisances an levels once you get to set,” McCrary added.


Bre-Z, the rapper and actress known for her role on “Empire” and “The New Edition Story” says she credits her entire career to Butler. “If it wasn’t for Leah Daniels I wouldn’t be here. We come from the same city Philadelphia. She’s just been a strong Black woman with a great eye,” she said. Bre-Z also noted her experience being casted for “Empire”, saying Butler was so gracious in giving her another opportunity to nail the audition. “When I auditioned for “Empire”, she (Butler) said, you know what, go eat some lunch and come back and I came back and nailed it,” Bre-Z added.


Dressed in a white Wakandan style ensemble, Lisa Raye McCoy says women must continue to past the torch just as Butler has done for so many actors in the game. “Every time I see her help someone else, it reminds me of my humble beginnings. Every start you get is a new beginning, so I’m just waiting for that next movie because you’re only good as your last one,” McCoy said. “Directing is another way to expand and explore my acting. I’m going to do that in front and behind the scenes. I want to be able to pass the torch to someone else,” she added.


Butler says that she’s truly humbled to be honored for the part that she plays in diversity and inclusion. In terms of casting, Butler says that she’s always looking for authenticity over perfection. “It’s always finding truth in whatever that performance is, finding a way to connect to it. And just understand that you don’t always have to say yes. If you don’t connect to a role, you’re not offending anybody by passing. Give it to somebody else; don’t be afraid to share the wealth,” Butler said.


Lastly, Butler says she wants to continue to serve at the forefront of diversity inclusion in the world of acting. “My hope and my wish is that we don’t have to be honored for something that should be the norm. I hope that everybody can see themselves reflected on television,” Butler said. “If you’re Black, White, Asian, Brown, whatever your ethnicity is, whatever your disability is, whether you’re transgender. If you’re a wheelchair user, if you’re deaf, whatever the struggle that you’re up against, we should all see ourselves reflected on film and television and that’s what I want to do,” she continued.


To see all exclusive interviews from the evening, be sure to visit

Category: Arts & Culture