Empire creator Lee Daniels and stars including Taraji P. Henson have united for a new video in support of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton

By Dave Quinn
Updated October 06, 2016 11:23 AM
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Empire creator Lee Daniels and stars including Taraji P. Henson, Gabourey Sidibe, Tasha Smith, Jussie Smollett, Bryshere Gray and Trai and Grace Byers have united in a new ad in support of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

The clip has the actors and advocates addressing the anger surrounding the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, and Philando Castile.

“The violence and nasty rhetoric against mankind is unacceptable,” they say. “If Trump gets into office, it will only get worse.”

“I want a president who stands up against intolerance. There’s only person in this race who said Black Lives Matter.”

The video also addresses Clinton’s stances on health care, women’s rights and gun control — and urges viewers to vote on Nov. 8.

“So many women and men died for us to have the right to vote,” Daniels says in the ad. “Every time we sit out, we dishonor their sacrifices.”

Lee Daniels and Hillary Clinton
Hillary for America

It’s a message the 56-year-old filmmaker learned from his grandmother, who as the first black board leader in Philadelphia used to travel door-to-door to get people to come out to vote.

“It was driven into us early on that it was important to vote,” Daniels tells PEOPLE. “Now, I’m in a situation where I really have these voices who will reach out to America and reach out to these kids that are in the inner-city and tell them that it’s important to vote.”

“There is not an option,” Daniels adds. “There isn’t an option.”

A longtime advocate of the Clintons, Daniels says he long “purposefully lived in a state of denial about race,” fearing that if he saw it as real it would become real and prevent him from being able to address it in his art.

“What happens in the urban community is this sense of hopelessness feeding up,” he explains. “We are dealing with stuff that is bubbling since we have been brought over here as slaves. We’re in a country where there’s an African American president, and these atrocities are still happening. There’s a sense of loss — being lost and feeling lost and confused. And I am not sure there is an answer.”

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It scares Daniels. “I am perplexed as to how my children’s children will survive in America in its current state,” he confesses. “I’m terrified for my son, Taraji’s terrified for her son, Terrence Howard’s terrified for his son — we are terrified parents. And the fact is, our children have been sheltered in the lives we have given them. So they have a sense of entitlement, as many millennials have. They act as if they can talk and do and treat the police … as any white child. And that’s very dangerous.”

Ultimately, Daniels wants the community to understand that using your vote can help make a difference.

“The most important thing is that we realize that we do have a voice and that we can use our voices through our right to vote,” he says. “Your voice does count and it can change the world. If everyone comes out to vote, we will win. There’s no question. It’s about getting out in the streets to vote.”