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Samantha Lee

Samantha Lee

Meet writer and director from the Philippines, Samantha Lee.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a queer, female, writer and director based in the Philippines who is actively trying to change the way the LGBTQ+ community and women are represented in local media.

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.

Metro Manila is this monster of a city which is comprised of 16 different cities. It’s a lot like Frankenstein in a way – it has a lot of random disjointed parts that come together to make a whole. I think that it takes a person with a lot of patience to be able to live and survive in this city. It’s a diamond in the rough, one that doesn’t give itself up too easily but once it does, it’s all worth it.

 

Metro Manila is this monster of a city which is comprised of 16 different cities. It’s a lot like Frankenstein in a way – it has a lot of random disjointed parts that come together to make a whole.

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?

The best thing about Manila is that it feels so small, the worst thing is that it feels so small… but everyone says that about where they live right?

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.

On our toes

 

How did you start your career in film?

Hmm, it’s a bit complicated. I took up film as my undergrad at the University of the Philippines. I spent five years doing that and when I graduated I didn’t want anything to do with filmmaking. I was very intent on making it as a commercial director. I spent a couple of years doing that before I moved to Melbourne to take up my masters and eventually started working there. After a couple of years of this “great” life on paper: steady job, supportive friends, an active dating life- I kind of had this yearning, this need for something more. I remember it so clearly: it was after a night out and I was walking down the street holding the hand of this girl I really liked and I said to myself: why can’t I have this same thing back home? So I packed my bags and moved back home, then wrote and directed and premiered my first film within a year of coming back.

 

I remember it so clearly: it was after a night out and I was walking down the street holding the hand of this girl I really liked and I said to myself: why can’t I have this same thing back home?

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?

I mean my parents had this super typical reaction of me not wanting to get into filmmaking because I wouldn’t be making a lot of money. They were also against the university that I wanted to go to. All my friends thought me being a filmmaker was something so inevitable.

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?

I want to make work that reaches more people and encourages and reassures women to be their true selves.

 

I want to make work that reaches more people and encourages and reassures women to be their true selves.

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?

I’m very very very obsessed with the USNWT at the moment (who isn’t?) so I’d love work with them. But on a more professional note, I was a really big fan of Sofia Coppola growing up and it would be really great if I could just bask in her presence.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

I’ve been really blessed to be surrounded by career-oriented women who have their own businesses and are leaders in their respective fields. Whenever I’m asked for advice by young creatives I always say: surround yourself with talent that scares you. It’s such an honor to be inspired by and motivated by this incredible group of women I get to call my friends.

 

Whenever I’m asked for advice by young creatives I always say: surround yourself with talent that scares you.

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?

Growing up in such a conservative country like the Philippines, I was never really exposed to women who I thought were like me, or women that I wanted to be. To this day, I can name only a handful of public figures who are really open about their sexual identity which is why I think it’s so important for me to live my life so openly.

 

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?

It’s definitely challenging to be a female queer director who pushes for queer representation in this industry. Trying to get these kinds of stories told still entails a lot of fight- but luckily I still have a lot of fight left in me.

 

Know your truth, know your story and never apologize for who you are.

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?

Know your truth, know your story and never apologize for who you are.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Samantha Lee.

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