Latest posts by Jovin Tardif (see all)
cinqque5tion with Robert Lee
You might know him as “Mr. Lee” on Kim’s Convenience. I know him as Robert. I met Robert Lee about 10 years ago at a family and friends gathering. At that time, I knew very little about him until we started to talk. Robert Lee has been in commercials, for example, Mr.Sub and Bounce and on television shows such as Kim’s Convenience, Murdoch Mysteries and Polka Dot Door to name a few. Robert Lee has always been a very friendly, energetic, enthusiastic and hard-working friend of mine. He is so passionate about the industry. Every time we meet, we always have a great time talking about movies, television, and the entertainment industry. This time, I thought it would be fun to share our moment with you. Robert Lee, thank you for the opportunity.
1. Robert Lee, when did you know you wanted to get into acting?
There was never an “ah-ha” moment, but there was a gradual change of priorities when I was at the University of Waterloo. The math and computer science courses interested me less and less, whereas my involvement in dramatic productions on campus interested me more and more.
2. Tell us about your first gig.
My first time on stage was when I was in Grade 1: I played the title role of Bambi. I was petrified. One of my first gigs out of university was understudying both male roles in F.O.B., a play by David Henry Hwang. I was still petrified. Coincidentally, Jean Yoon was the female lead. I got my union card with the play, Skin, written by Dennis Foon. The themes of racial tolerance are as relevant today as they were back then.
3. What has been your favourite role so far?
Choosing favourites is like asking a mother, out of all her offspring, who is her favourite. There is no simple way to answer this. But here goes … my favourite role was awhile back when I played the Emperor in Young People’s Theatre first production of The Nightingale, written by John Lazarus.
4. Robert Lee, do you have a dream role?
My dream role is … the next one. With the glut of celebrity news on TV and on the Web, I think people get a false impression that the acting profession is glamorous and lucrative. The reality, however, is much starker: in 2015, the median income for actors and comedians was $17,500 (Source: Canada Council; see page 4 of the PDF’d Executive Summary).
I have gone years between acting jobs. But I learn something from each and every gig, so a better metaphor might be that an actor’s career is akin to a decades-long dream.
5. Robert Lee, do you think the film industry has opened doors for more opportunities for everyone to shine? Please explain.
I used to think that things get better as time progresses. But then I realized that while Crazy Rich Asians was released in 2018, the last film with a sizeable Asian cast was The Joy Luck Club back in 1993. Despite that, I remain hopeful, as we are all “standing on the shoulders” of trailblazers like Keye Luke and Anna May Wong.
I don’t know about you (#kimbits, #kimbit) but I would like to see more of Mr. Lee on Kim’s Convenience #bringbackmrlee
Who is with me? Robert Lee, thank you for the opportunity.