They’ve worked together on movie sets, and now director Lee Daniels took the stage at Saturday’s GLAAD Media Awards to present Mariah Carey with the Ally Award with a touching introductory speech.
Foregoing the teleprompter, the Oscar-nominated director spoke from the heart as he honored his longtime collaborator and friend, recalling the first time he met her after Whitney Houston’s choreographer informed him that an up-and-coming artist named “Morah” would soon give the “I Will Always Love You” singer a run for the pop music throne.
“Girl, there’s this new chick on the block with five octaves that’s coming for [Whitney]!” Daniels recalled the choreographer saying, admitting he was blown away the first time he heard “Visions of Love.” “[That song] was her truth, it was her pain, it was her honesty, and it was her unabashed fearlessness in hitting us right in the gut with what it was that we all needed to hear.”
Daniels went on to trace the pair’s history together in the film industry, dating all the way back to 2008, when Carey starred in the Daniels-produced drama Tennessee. She would later go on to star as a social worker in the 2009 Best Picture nominee Precious, which Daniels directed.
“You were very nervous, and I said ‘No makeup!’ and you said ‘Please, Lee!’ and I said ‘No makeup. If there’s a strip of makeup on you, I’ll kill you, and not only that, throw a mustache on her ass!’” he said. “I think you did your best work [in Precious] because you were free.”
Carey then took the stage, embracing Daniels amid a standing ovation from the crowd.
“I can’t believe you just told that story, because I thought we had an understanding, darling,” she joked. “You changed my life, and I love you, Lee, forever.”
The superstar admitted she was nervous to attend the evening’s festivities, but only because she wanted to make sure she earned her Ally Award by properly understanding what every letter in “LGBTQ” stood for. “I had to learn a whole new alphabet to introduce and not un-include people… I don’t want to do it wrong. I decided that if I have to memorize it, I might as well elaborate on it. So we have L: legendary. G: gorgeous. B: beautiful — all of you beautiful people! T: tantalizing, and even Q for quality!” she said, closing her speech with a heartfelt thank you to those who’ve supported her along her illustrious career. “Thank you for the unconditional love, because it’s very difficult for me to have that. I haven’t experienced much of it… I wish all of you love, peace, harmony, and as my five-year old son likes to say: boobies and butts!”
Watch Carey accept her award in the video above, and watch Daniels recount the time the singer gave him a Bible (that he still hasn’t fully read through) in the video below.