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Lela Lee

Cartoonist Creator of Angry Little Girls/Angry Little Asian Girl and Actress on the SyFy Series Tremors

In 1994, while a sophomore at UC Berkeley, Lela Lee first created “Angry Little Asian Girl” after viewing offensive and chauvinistic cartoons in a festival of animation. Her friend took notice of her intense anger and challenged her to make a cartoon about herself. That night, she stayed up drawing on typing paper with crayola…

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In 1994, while a sophomore at UC Berkeley, Lela Lee first created “Angry Little Asian Girl” after viewing offensive and chauvinistic cartoons in a festival of animation.

Her friend took notice of her intense anger and challenged her to make a cartoon about herself. That night, she stayed up drawing on typing paper with crayola markers. Using video editing equipment from a class, the first episode “The First Day of School” starring the “Angry Little Asian Girl” was born.

However, Lee was embarrassed by its candor and anger, so the video sat in her drawer until 1997 when she finally decided to revisit the video. After drawing the first episode and adding four new ones, she sent the collection of short episodes to the same festival of animation that spurred her to create the cartoon. Ironically, they asked for exhibition rights and the video reviewed sparkling reviews by the LA Times and the LA Weekly.
Lee was born in Los Angeles, CA and raised in the suburb of San Dimas.

She was ridiculed and humiliated as a child for something she could not help: her gender and her ethnicity. Those experiences influenced her comic strip. After viewing the video, one network told her, “It’s really cute and funny, but there’s just no market for Asians.” Angered by this response, Lee went back to the drawing board. She knew from the feedback she was getting that both Asians and non-Asians really understood the underdog spirit of ALAG. So Lee created more characters and expanded the name to “Angry Little Girls” which acted as an umbrella name for all the individual characters.

“The sole reason I created this comic strip, was to address everything that I had to go through growing up. My parents couldn’t coach me through the racism I got as a child. They were too afraid. And the other adults, well, they just didn’t understand. No one wants to talk about what happens to people everyday. But I do. The reason I keep doing this comic strip is because not only do I really feel strongly about the subject matter, but with the positive feedback I have gotten, it has made me understand that I have hit on a nerve of some sort.”

Inspired by the buzz, Lee decided to make a batch of 300 shirts. Her friends bought the initial shirts. Soon, Lee’s phone was ringing off the hook with requests for more. Lee sold out and in 1998 launched the web site www.angrylittleasiangirl.com to meet the demand and to have an unadulterated outlet for her comic strip.

Currently, Lee is working on getting the strip syndicated as well as finishing her graphic novels with each of the characters starring in their own book. Lee also appears on the SciFi series Tremors as Jodi Chang. She has also guest and co-starred on Scrubs, Charmed, Friends, Felicity, and Rude Awakenings, among others.

Though her childhood experiences were not funny at the time, with hindsight Lee has realized that the situations she endured offer humorous misunderstandings and opportunity for redress. She hopes her comic strip will help readers realize that angering situations can have a positive outcome.

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Topics

Cultural Switching & Gender Judo, the Double Burden Asian Women Face in the Workplace
Asian women who are raised in traditional Asian households are taught to be submissive, quiet and deferential. Yet the American workplace values traits such as confidence, leadership, strength and individuality. These opposing value systems often create inner conflict. Asian professional woman find themselves walking a tightrope with opposing expectations on each side. Are they Asian enough or are they American enough? What are the solutions to feel whole and valued both at work and at home? From Lela’s own experience navigating work and the expectations of two cultures, young Asian women will walk away with a better understanding of how they can navigate their future career paths.

The Model Minority Myth Dissected
The model minority myth is widely discussed as something that limits the authenticity of how Asians are in real life. Asian Americans blame the media, but who or what is really to blame for the model minority myth? Is the wrath one will face for bringing shame to their Asian family doorstep contributing to the larger generalization of Asians? Collective criticism and activism in Asian America is growing online, but is it really getting to the heart of the issue or is just a way to control non-conforming Asians with shame and guilt to keep the good face we’re taught to uphold? A look at who’s being bashed and who’s being praised by online voices will show us if the collective “face” of Asians in America is really ready to break the model minority myth…

I’m Asian, American & Angry!
Asians are considered the quietly assimilated model minority in America. But this perception is often not true. Subtle and overt racism exists for many Asian-Americans who are living in a country that regards them with stereotypical perceptions. Lee’s work “Angry Little Girls and the Angry Little Asian Girl” shows the frustration of being “Asian, American, and Angry!”

Finding Your Voice: Advice for Women of Color
When you’re a young woman, finding your voice can be a challenge. Women are raised to be obedient, pretty, nurturing. Females are not allowed to express anger. When you’re a minority woman, the challenge to find your voice is compounded with the expectations of race on top of expectations of being female. As a young woman, Lela Lee experienced this double-edged challenge. Yet, in the face of strict traditional parents with their Mother land cultural standards and the dominant societal views on women in America, Lee was able to find her true voice and find an outlet. Lela shares her advice for finding a voice as a woman of color.

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Angry Little Girls - Stan Lee's Comic Con 2017

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