Taiwanese American director Ang Lee has a lot going for him. He just won a second Best Director Oscar for “Life of Pi” to go with his first Oscar award from “Brokeback Mountain.” He has become one of the most in-demand directors, successful both overseas and in the States, and has twice beaten out Steven Spielberg at the Academy Awards.
He also serves as a good example for young Asian Americans interested in getting into the film industry.
The film industry is a notoriously difficult industry for Asian and Pacific Americans. There are only a handful of successful APA actors and actresses in the mainstream and media, and like many young people interested in the industry now, Lee found it difficult to find work, even though he works mostly behind the scenes.
Despite success at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Lee found himself unemployed for six years. Rather than giving up, he continued working and writing, eventually directing films in Taiwan’s cinema scene and proving his crossover appeal. By the time he had his first successful film in English, he was already 41.
To the young Asian and Pacific Americans hoping for a career in film, don’t be discouraged. Though there may not be many visible Asians in front of the camera, there are many opportunities behind it. During the production of “Life of Pi,” Lee employed over 600 people in the production crew, including editors, video effects designers, sound mixers, and more. These positions are not necessarily closed off to Asian Americans. If you want to be in film, there are more opportunities than acting. It takes a lot of hard work, perseverance, and manpower to make films. There are opportunities and rewards, you just have to stay strong and keep working. (end)