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All Lee Daniels wants to do is make his mama proud.

The producer of Fox’s breakout hit Empire who has already achieved critical and box office victories with “Precious” and “The Butler,” says the success of the TV show caught him off guard: “I didn’t even think we’d be picked up!”

But his mother saw it coming.

“I’m surprised [at the success], because I just was conditioned to thinking [against it], but my mom said she’s not surprised so I guess she’s the boss,” Daniels said. “My mom is really happy and I live to make my mom and my kids happy and they’re really proud of this show. It’s a great feeling to make your family happy.”

Another source of happiness, Daniels said, is the freedom to work on his first television series without Fox constantly over his shoulder with a red pen.

“It’s crazy. I mean, I can’t believe they let me on TV. They just say, ‘Lee, do your thing. Go do you. You do you,’” he said.

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