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Cherylene Lee (San Francisco) collaborating with Center for Asian American Media (San Francisco)

Award: $40,000 Literary Arts Grant awarded in 2011

Completed: Live performance with multimedia work in 2012; three first person multimedia works available on YouTube in 2012, completed manuscript in 2014

Writer Cherylene Lee collaborated with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) to create a multimedia work and a completed manuscript based on excerpts from Lee’s memoir-in-progress, Just Like Really.

Lee’s story uncovers an unusual view of the emotional trials and triumphs of growing up Asian American in Hollywood, where Cherylene Lee was one of the first Asian American professional childhood film and television stars. she also appeared in Flower Drum Song and Donovan’s Reef—all at a time when authentic and diverse representations of Asian Americans in media were virtually nonexistent.

CAAM and Lee curated and recreated several chapters of her manuscript into three-minute multimedia videos and podcasts for online streaming and distribution. The story, narrated by Lee, incorporates archival materials from her personal collection. CAAM featured a live, multimedia reading  of “Just Like Really” at the 30th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival in March 2012. Later Lee and CAAM re-recorded the performance and produced three short multi-media videos available for free at the CAAM Channel on YouTube: “Our Nightclub Act, Scenes from A Memoir: Just Like Really“; “The Green Eyed Monster: Scenes from A Memoir: Just Like Really“; and “The Most Important Words: Scenes from A Memoir: Just Like Really.”

CAAM was founded in 1980 to counter the scarcity of images of Asians and Asian Americans in film and television, correct often distorted portrayals of them in mainstream media, and create opportunities for the full participation of Asian American producers in public media. Today, it is the leading Asian American media arts organization in the United States.