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Asian American Filmmaker Challenges Millennial AAPIs to Determine Their Legacy

Edward Lee

By Shirley N Lew, AsAmNews New York Correspondent


Edward Young Lee, a filmmaker and activist in the Asian Pacific American community, finds his passion in telling stories that need to be heard.  He has a big heart for improving the lives of disadvantaged people and to close the gap on the disparity they face.


Asian Pacific American Legacy based in Washington, DC tapped Lee to produce a video of APA leaders for McDonald’s in recognition of AAPI month. The McDonald’s Corporation is the first corporation ever to recognize Asian American Pacific history makers. The APA history makers featured in the video are Philip Jaisohn, Dalip Singh Saund, An Wang, and Patsy Mink. 


“I wanted to honor these leaders. I realized that these are leaders we need to talk more about and shine a light on. We want to take this content to make it more engaging, “ Lee said.


I asked Lee, “How did you decide the look of the video? You were standing in front of the screen with the images of the AAPI leaders on you.”


“We have to reach the millennial. We have to take this content and turn it into something more engaging in a visual way. So, we said let’s try to bridge the gap between our generation and their generation to create that interaction.  So instead of just throwing images on the screen, it’s sort of like the young people are walking in the footsteps of these leaders,” he explained.


He also said the language of the millennial involves social media and video. Using these forms of media can make a much larger impact on that generation.


The video took about three weeks to plan and one day to record. Lee, his producer Jan Lin Lee and editor Tiger Tiger “camped out all night” to edit video.


What is the reaction you are expecting from the millennials?


“I want to spark a fire in our generation, to wake them up to this movement that was started by these pioneers and that it’s now our turn to step up.”


He added, “It’s a message that we are passing the torch to them to become leaders of our communities and to be legacy makers. I want to inspire them to step up, but to also tell their own stories, of those around them and to walk in the footsteps of these pioneers.”


Lee included himself in the beginning of the video to inspire other young people because he felt they are more likely to get involved when they see other peers “take action and follow through with what Edward Leethey say.”  The beginning of the vignette focuses on Lee campaigning to be student body vice president.


Although he did not win, Lee said in the video, “My decision to run was a source of empowerment to those around me.”


In the video, the images are shown against a wall. Lee tells me that wall represents “the legacy we can all leave in our lifetime.”


Lee said, “The question we really want to leave for the next generation is ‘what legacy will you leave'”


Share the video with #MyInspirAsian #APALegacy


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