Lee Daniels, the co-creator of TV's "Empire," spoke passionately of his own family's struggles as he endorsed Hillary Clinton Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention, calling her a true advocate for victims of gun violence who can help turn "their heartache into action."
But his support didn't come easy.
"I wondered if Hillary knew who I was, not just the work I do in entertainment, but who I really am," said Daniels, who was raised in west Philadelphia.
His father, a cop, was killed in a robbery when Daniels was 15, he said, and his sister is under house arrest. He said a brother and a nephew are in jail and he has cousins in and out of custody.
"That's the America I know," Daniels said, "and still I rise."
The director and producer said he came to trust Clinton's commitment to help reduce gun violence, and he urged young voters not to sit out the election in November, calling it the "most important election of our lifetime."
On the convention's third day, actress Angela Bassett introduced two survivors of the shooting massacre last year at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
The tragedy has left Charleston's "soul on fire," and "our bodies and our minds under too much pressure" from an onslaught of "gun violence and hatred that still threatens to tear us apart," Bassett said.
Sigourney Weaver introduced a short film about climate change, directed by James Cameron and featuring Jack Black, Don Cheadle, America Ferrera, Clinton herself — and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a prominent Republican.
"What we're really talking about is people," Weaver said, "people whose lives are affected by climate change right here and right now. Can Donald Trump look these people in the eye and tell them that climate change is a hoax?"
Wednesday's musical interludes included a line of Broadway stars passing a microphone for a round of "What the World Needs Now is Love." Among them: Ben Vereen, Idina Menzel, Audra McDonald, Kristen Bell, Darren Criss and the stars of the 1980s TV show "Cagney & Lacey," Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless.
Rocker Lenny Kravitz, accompanied by a choir, belted his hit "Let Love Rule," declaring at the end, "One god, one people, one planet, and love is the only solution."
Outside the convention hall, actors Susan Sarandon, Danny Glover and Rosario Dawson attended a protest by Bernie Sanders supporters over what they see as slights as the week has unfolded.
Sarandon, who was seen shaking her head in the audience earlier this week, spoke at a brief news conference and said convention organizers scuttled planned remarks from prominent Sanders surrogate Nina Turner. Sarandon said convention organizers are making it difficult to carry out "the will of Bernie Sanders' people."
The busy midway point for the Democrats comes after a surprise performance by Kesha at an invitation-only gun control concert Tuesday night in Philadelphia.
On Wednesday night, Fergie and the Black Eyed Peas will put on separate concerts; they haven't performed together in five years. The Black Eyed Peas are listed as headliners for a Rock The Vote concert at the Fillmore Philadelphia, while Fergie is headlining a concert for the Creative Coalition.