Looking at the roots of "Empire" co-creator Lee Daniels

FOX 29's Dave Kinchen reports from West Philadelphia.

- We know, you just can't get enough of Cookie, Lucious and "Empire" now that season two is back.

While you may know the show's creator Lee Daniels is from Philadelphia, we wanted to trace the roots of the man who makes the magic.

FOX 29's Dave Kinchen sat down with Daniels' mother for a look at the man behind an Empire, and the tragedy that shaped his future.

Lucious will stop at nothing to regain his throne, but Cookie is still the boss lady, and the Lyons deal with life changing tragedy.

Those are just some of the many plot twists and turns coming your way now that "Empire" is back on FOX.

It's arguably the hottest show on TV, and it's made by one of the coolest guys from Philly: Hollywood Kingmaker Lee Daniels.

Who would know better than Clara Mae Daniels, his mother, and perhaps the only other boss in the family.

"It has to be his way.  He's going to make it right," Clara Mae explained.  

A true hitmaker with a keen eye at work from the director's chair, makes sure every cast and crew member is on point.

"They'll do anything.  They'll do flips just because they know there's something there and something good is going to come out, and everybody's going to have a little piece of the pie," added Clara Mae.

Mom says Daniels had his eye on the prize since day one, even getting what he wanted with friends.

"From an infant he had a flare about him," she said, "He had to be the boss and tell them how to act, what to say, how to say it and it was just a charm. It was fun."

Some of those names you may know.

"Will Smith lived right around the corner. Jazzy Jeff," Clara Mae said.

Daniels', one of five kids, almost lost that flare when his father, a Philly cop, was killed in the line of duty.

"That's when God stepped in. Really stepped in," Daniels' mother explained.

Then, Daniels stepped into god's house, in The African Episcopal church of Saint Thomas, now located in Overbrook Farms.

"God moves funny, in funny ways. He's at the right place at the right place," she said, "It's like a shield was over my family. I could feel it."

A cornerstone institute, the first black Episcopal Church in the nation became a cornerstone for Daniels.

"He grew up here at St. Thomas. This is where he was baptized.  This is where he was confirmed.  This is where he actually went through his childhood into his adult hood," Rev. Martini Shaw explained.

"He reads his Bible and I think it gives him the energy to stay focused on what it is he is trying to do," Clara Mae explained.

Daniels uses theater and entertainment to take on tough issues like race and love in his Oscar-Winning production "Monster's Ball."

"These are today's issues.  A lot of people don't like issues of today but they're real and things that happen on that show are for real," Clara Mae said.

But it's "Empire" that has Lee Daniels tackling issues like gay relationships, often considered taboo in the black community.

He has America talking about family violence too.

"A lot of little incidents are true, they are very, very true. I'm not going to tell you which ones they are, but these are some experiences that he experienced growing up," Daniels' mother said.

"These are actual experiences that we have human beings have, even though they may be hard for some to actually acknowledge and view on television, it's real," Rev. Shaw added. 

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