INTRO BY ALEXIS ROGERS
INTERVIEW BY CAMI LIBERTY
When Lee Doud was 13, he decided to pursue acting by joining a conservatory program in the summer. Growing up, Doud admired actors such as Jackie Chen, Jet Li, and any other actor who played the role of James Bond. For the next five summers, Doud studied at the same conservatory to continue improving his skills. He attended UCLA for their theater program, and later studied Shakespeare at the British American Dramatic Academy in Oxford, England. Now, Doud can be found in a variety of shows and films, including “Last Man Standing,” “House of Lies,” and “I’m Fine.” “I’m Fine” follows two friends, Nate and Jeff. Nate is attempting to move past his ex-boyfriend while Jeff (Lee Doud) finds himself sharing his true feelings about Nate. This series is currently in its second season and can be found on Dekkoo, an app with content for the LGBTQ community.
When did you first realize that you wanted to be an actor?
LEE: "I knew I wanted to act from a young age. I remember the feeling of being on-stage was electric. I did a lot of theater growing up. I also loved watching movies. I would spend my summers doing a youth theater program at a local repertory theater. During the school year, I would work backstage as a stagehand just to be around other performers and artists. I’m so lucky that my parents were so supportive of this passion. I knew film and television was my ultimate goal, so I auditioned for a few top acting schools and that’s how I landed a spot at UCLA and got to fulfill my dream of living in Los Angeles."
What was your first acting role?
LEE: "I remember playing Woodstock in 'Snoopy' in the fourth grade. I had no lines and I had to wear bright yellow overalls with a bald cap my mom had glued yellow feathers to. It was magical. The next year, I got to play Chief Sitting Bull in 'Annie Get Your Gun', which felt like a real upgrade for me. And it’s really only gone up from there."
You currently star as Jeff in the web series “I’m Fine” – can you tell us a little about the show and your character?
LEE: “'I’m Fine' just released its second season on Dekkoo, a streaming service for LGBTQ content. The first season started with the lead character, Nate, dealing with a break-up. I play Jeff, Nate’s best friend and confidante. Jeff and Nate have a bit of a tumultuous relationship, which also includes some unrequited feelings. At the end of season one, you see Jeff and Nate at odds, which is our jumping off point for season two. Jeff is pretty honest and opinionated and certainly isn’t afraid to let you hear it. I think that’s the thing I like most about him. He’s definitely a #nofilter guy."
What do you love most about working on the show?
LEE: "This cast. We all get along really, really well and sometimes we forget that we’re at work. We really do have a great time on set. I also really love the honesty behind the stories that we’re telling. It’s all grounded in so much truth. The millennial struggle to find an identity in a world filled with social media and dating app’s is very real and so often, we’re expected to put this face out that says “I’m fine” when there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface."
When you aren’t acting, what do you like to do in your free time?
LEE: "I'm usually scouring the internet for new recipes. I love to cook and bake and I experiment in my kitchen quite a bit. I admit, it doesn’t always turn out well, but I haven’t made myself or anyone else sick (yet)! Food is love for me. Whenever my friends come over, they can usually expect to be fed. I love hosting gatherings at my place because it gives me an excuse to throw chicken wings into the slow cooker or mash up some avocados for guacamole. If you ever see over-ripe bananas sitting on my counter, you can bet that I’m already planning to bake a banana loaf."
Recently you wrote a piece for The Advocate titled “The Gay Community’s Fear and Loathing of Asian Men Must End” – what initially made you want to write this piece?
LEE: "When we set out to start season 2, creator Brandon Kirby and I had a few drinks one night and I told him there were some things I wanted to explore with Jeff, some personal experiences I have had in the dating world. There is a scene in the season where Jeff is set up on a blind date with a guy who’s a bit brash and insensitive. When the season was released, I was approached by The Advocate to write a piece detailing some of the other things I had experienced as an Asian-American male within the LGBTQ community. This was something I had become passionate about and emboldened by and I felt it was my duty as an artist to share my story to help empower those who felt like they had been marginalized."
Why do you think it’s important to speak out about these issues?
LEE: "In all honesty, I don’t think we’re as socially progressive as we like to think we are in this day and age. Sure, we’re no longer forcing people to use separate entrances or drink from separate water fountains, but I do believe that the way minorities and people of color are portrayed in mainstream media has a direct affect to the way society thinks about them. We are in the process of kicking down doors and demanding to be seen and heard, but there’s still a ways to go. I just want to encourage people to be open to having discussions about these things. I do believe that if you don’t speak up and speak out, that you’ll never be heard. A lot of prejudice and marginalization stems from naiveté and unawareness. After writing this piece, a lot of people reached out to simply thank me for opening their eyes to something they never even knew was happening."
We can next see you in the short film “Ira”, which you also produced. What was it like working on this project?
LEE: "This project was an honor to work on and I look forward to sharing it when it’s done. It deals with something else which I think is very important and that’s mental health. Many people suffer silently and more often than not, we don’t realize that their families and loved ones are suffering, as well. This project is a very tragic true story that I hope will enlighten many and spark an important conversation."
Are there any other projects coming up in the future that you can tell us about?
LEE: "I’ve been writing a lot! I’ve had some projects and ideas in the works for some time now and am trying to hone my skills as a storyteller in order to get them out of my head and onto paper. I’m working on adapting a novel that my aunt wrote as well as working on a horror/thriller script with a friend. I’m really inspired and excited right now and I can’t wait to give everyone the updates on these projects in the near future!"