From scooping ice cream to canvassing the street looking for job during the frigid winter months, the struggling Flushing actress, Jennivere Song Lee thought she had done it all. Her lucky break, chosen to represent New York City at the Miss Photogenic of the World 2011 pageant this August in London may be just the ticket.
After going to several casting calls and entering many pageants, Lee’s luck changed when the Miss Photogenic team selected her to be the new face of the city.
The Francis Lewis High School graduate, whose parents are from Korea, believes that Asians have always been underrepresented in movies. During her high school years she was encouraged by her English teacher to take a drama class, where she found the opportunity to channel her creativity into her passion for acting.
“Never in my life did I expect to utter the word, ‘I want to be an actress,’” Lee said. “Asian actors should become more apparent on television in substantial, meaty roles and not just as the token Asian person who is cast for the sake of diversity.”
The actress hopes that as time progresses she can set a new trend for Asians in the film industry by writing and performing in her own works. “I have a lot more writing to do and can’t wait to get this play I’m working on over with so I can move beyond writing,” she said.
From an early age Lee was interested in the arts and enrolled in tap, jazz and ballet classes. Then at 16, while taking fashion instruction at the Fashion Institute of Technology, she became restless.
“I decided that I didn’t want fashion to be my life’s work,” Lee said. “I just felt so lost and hopeless and confused about the direction of my life.I was in need of some inspiration, something to love, something to believe in …”
After reading several acting books, Lee, who is now in her mid 20’s decided to further her studies in method acting at Lee Strasberg Film and Theater Institute where she found the confidence to follow her dream.
“I took several intensive classes which I enjoyed and began going on auditions,” Lee said. “So far, I’ve done short films, webisodes, a film for the Asian American Film Lab’s ‘Consequence’ where we won 11th place, indie films and comedy pilots.”
Prior to the pageant in London, Lee anticipates traveling to Italy, where she will work on her latest film “Vexations,” a thriller-horror movie written and directed by Ugo Frosi.
“I will be portraying Shihong, a mysterious eastern pianist,” Lee said. “It will be filmedin July in Umbria and Orvieto [and] I’m very happy about going to Italy.The location is straight out of a post card.”
In the future, the actress hopes to continue working on her semi-fictional play “Happy Holloways,” which is inspired by her poetry and extracts from diaries that she kept as a teenager.
As the pageant time nears, the contestant continues to work in front and behind the camera.
“I have never watched a televised beauty pageant in my entire life, but as an actress you hear people tell you its all about exposure and I know I’ll do well.”