April 2005 | Georgia Lee '98

Georgia Lee '98 (Screenwriter, Director, & Producer, RED DOORS)

By Dominique Kalil '00

I spoke to Georgia Lee while sitting in rush hour traffic, not my original plan. As I watched the minutes tick by, and realized I wasn’t go to be where I needed to be, I thought my head was going to explode. It had been one of those days where everything has the potential to go your way, but nothing does. Furthermore, it appeared that I was the only person in the entire city that was driving with some purposeful intent. Before I dialed her number, I pointed to the sky with my middle finger one last time and took a deep breath. On the other end of the line I heard an articulate, enthusiastic, spontaneous young lady.

I asked Georgia about her seemingly abrupt career change from a biochemistry major and consultant at McKinsey to director and producer. She explained her inherent love for film, but also the initial fidelity to the responsibility she felt to her familial obligations. Georgia’s film, Red Doors, enjoying its world premiere this month at the Tribeca Film Festival, explores the interactions of a dysfunctional Chinese American family. While completely fictional, the inspiration for the film comes from Georgia’s own family experiences and expectations. The film examines the conflicts that arise from trying to be true to one’s personal aspirations while simultaneously placating the contradicting desires of those one loves most dearly; a topic pertinent to the vast majority of people, especially those in the film industry and most of us in Harvardwood. Accordingly, hearing Georgia’s perspectives on her own experiences, and her excitement about her completed project was very refreshing.

Abandoning the security of a monthly paycheck, or even the respect certain professions endow (of which we are all capable and which, to some degree, we all covet) is brutally difficult. When one’s family opposes that abandonment, the gravity of the decision becomes critical, and is generally not for the faint of heart. Recognizing, and then expressing this conflict so as to emphasize the universal appeal takes an enormous amount of insight and skill, but also a passion, dedication and tolerance that not many other professions require. Georgia and her producing partners quite obviously have that tangible, contagious and most importantly, infallible passion. Speaking to her, about her career path, her choices, and the film they spawned provoked some profound thought on my part.

I have never met Georgia in person, but the relevance of her film and her struggles elicited a rather surprising personal response; one of motivation and inspiration. And to me, that is all I expect from a story. Before our time ran out, I asked Georgia if she felt fulfilled with her career choices. The question was totally redundant and I felt stupid for asking it. Then I asked her about her family’s reaction to her successes and to Red Doors specifically. She responded that her family was proud of what she had done, and that they would all attend the Tribeca screening. Happy endings are added bonuses to good stories too. Please visit www.reddoorsthemovie.com for more information about the film.

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