Shannon Lee

Recently I got a chance to talk with BruceLee.com’s very own Shannon Lee about her current projects, the future of the Bruce Lee name and what you can do to help out!

I imagine it gets quite busy at Bruce Lee Enterprises. What is a typical day at the office for you?

Shannon Lee: Gosh, you know it varies. I have for me in particular three entities that I’m involved in. ‘Bruce Lee Enterprises’ is our licensing company, and for that I have a staff that helps out and we meet with potential licensees and current licensees. We do deals [for use of] my father’s name and likeness for all sorts of different uses like products, production, advertising, promotion and all those sorts of things. So we’re constantly meeting and talking to people, reviewing samples that people send and growing that portion of the business!

I’m also the CEO of Leeway Media Group, which is a Production company founded in 2008. What I do there is to try and create new Bruce Lee related content for all manner of media, like the internet, television and film and all sorts of different things. [So far] we’ve done a couple of documentaries, [we're currently] doing a documentary now, we did a documentary for the history channel in 2008 and we did a 50 part TV series for Chinese Television. [We also] have a few TV projects in the works.

I’m also the President of the Bruce Lee Foundation, which is a California 501(C)(3) Non profit public charity whose mission is to preserve and perpetuate the legacy of Bruce Lee through, primarily, educational programs. [Currently], our big goal that we have started in earnest is to build the Bruce Lee Museum in the Seattle, Washington area; I actually just got back from Seattle yesterday. So my typical office day is- I don’t know if there is a typical one! I do all sorts of things like reading contracts, reviewing and commenting on samples, attending producer meetings, board meetings and charitable functions so I’m kind of all over the place!

It sounds like it! And I thought my day was busy! Moving on; as you may know, the UK based Media company “Showbox Media Group” is planning to re-release all the classic Bruce Lee films along with many other legendary Asian films. It’s sure to bring a plethora of new fans into the fold, how do you feel about the re-release?

Shannon Lee: You know I think it’s great! Any time that there is something new that keeps my father’s legacy alive that is out there is obviously in good taste and we appreciate that. His films are a major part of that. I’m always happy for people to either get a chance to revisit the films that they love or to be introduced for the first time to my father’s films which are such a perfect and wonderful entrer into who he was. Yeah.

On the subject of films; It seems that these days many Hollywood blockbuster films lack a certain philosophical depth, A depth that Bruce Lee seemed to take pride in instilling into his audience through his movies. Do you think this is the reason why Bruce Lee is not only a pop culture icon but a true mainstay in the history of film?

Shannon Lee: I definitely think that it’s one of the reasons. You know the reason that my father was constantly trying to infuse his films with his philosophical ideas and the like was because it was really a part of who he was as a person. He had this mantra about self actualization and personal self expression, so when you watch a Bruce Lee movie you’re really getting to see a piece of him. He really was that amazing, he really could do all of the moves, he really was that fast and he really did believe and live his life in a philosophical way. He had his own his own ideas on philosophy that related to martial arts but also related to life. Any opportunity that he got to share a little piece of himself, even in the form of entertaining films, he always jumped at the chance and I do think that those little bits, those pearls he injected into his movies are what make his movies great and what made him great.

So definitely yes, everybody loves the philosophy; especially the way that it’s put forth in his movies. Sometimes in a playful way, sometimes in a very pointed and dramatic way; It really resonates with people, and people remember that. And then when you combine that with how unbelievably fast, dynamic, graceful, powerful and charismatic as he was on screen, I mean it’s really this thing that nobody had ever seen before and really you haven’t seen since because that was really the man himself. I think that the reason we remember him today is primarily because he lived his life in a very particular way and he expressed that to us in everything that he did.

While we’re touching on the subject of philosophy I’d like to ask this; where I’m from, a very small amount of people (who are fans of Bruce Lee) know that aside from being a martial artist and a movie star that he was a very prolific philosopher. Do you believe that his views on the Ancient Taoist beliefs in the modern day and the true meaning of Gung-Fu in all aspects of life – along with all other aspects of his writing (as I am a fan of all works regarding Bruce Lee- Whether penned by himself or compiled by others) would be beneficial to anyone who reads them, from average fans to philosophy professors alike?

Shannon Lee: Most definitely. You know there are many books that have been published that are my father’s actual writing as well as there are books that have been written about him; there are several books that are in his own writing that are available. I am a martial artist and have studied the martial arts, I haven’t been that active in it lately and I certainly wouldn’t call myself by any stretch of the imagination a master, or even a very consistent practitioner as of late, however I gain a lot of strength and insight from his writings on a daily basis. You know, one of the interesting things is when you can apply a philosophy to something physical. You can apply it to the martial arts, let’s say, [but] you can also apply it to anything that is an act of doing, and living is an act of doing, so definitely. Especially if you’re taking full advantage of your living.

So definitely his writings have helped thousands and thousands of people around the world who are not practicing martial artists, but gain a lot of insight into just life itself, that’s really what philosophy is. You know philosophy is great but I think that a lot of times when people think about philosophers, they think about scholarly men sitting around pontificating about these great sorts of conceptual ideas. But the real beauty is when philosophy is in action- When you can take it, live it and gain in your own life from it- And that was really what my father did and what he wrote about. So anybody can take that can gain a lot from it.

Well I know that I certainly have gained a lot from it.

Shannon Lee: Me too! *laugh*

Even with Brucelee.com expanding at the rate that it is, you still need help getting the word out, correct? What can the average fan do to help?

Shannon Lee: Gosh, That is a good question. You know, here’s the thing; I think that if you say the name Bruce Lee to just about anyone they probably know who that is. Unless they’re super young or just not that into pop culture. But like you said, there are then degrees of knowing who [Bruce Lee] is. Everything from “Oh yeah, that guy who did karate or something right?”, to “Yeah, he was in those kick ass movies”, to “Oh yeah was this amazing martial artist who created his own style and is hailed as the father of MMA”, to “Oh, he was this amazingly deep thinker” to “Oh he broke down racial barriers”- *laugh* You know what I mean? What we’re still trying to get out is for people to remember him, and not only remember him, but know who he was in his totality. So, you know, that all starts with something right? Some sort of gateway moment and a lot of times it’s the movies and just sharing that, sharing who he was to the people around you. Like me talking to someone like you who [writes for] a blog that people read- I mean it’s terrific right? Because now, that many more people are going to know.

[We also spread the word on] social media [like our] Facebook fan page where we do a lot of postings, I have a twitter account called @BruceLeeLegacy where I’m on there tweeting quotes. We don’t have that many followers right now and we’d love to grow that, we’d love for people to [spread the news] by word of mouth and come to BruceLee.com. Check out the stories that are on there as well as the pictures [and] the stuff that’s in the web store- You know, buy the books, watch the movies, wear the gear, [learn] about the quotes and you know, just share. It’s really the best way. I could always put a commercial on TV and try to tell you that Bruce Lee is cool but it’s something that you’ve got to figure out. It’s going to be authentic if you come to it on your own terms is what I guess I’m trying to say. A lot of times we listen more when a friend recommends something or we stumble across it on our own and it feels like a discovery, so I just want people to discover [Bruce Lee] and continue to discover [Bruce Lee] and continue to tell the story of this great person.

So In closing, can you tell us, is there anything exciting planned on the horizon?

Shannon Lee: Yeah! There is definitely some really exciting stuff on the horizon. Some of it is more imminent than others but like I said for the foundation, we are working in earnest to build a Bruce Lee in the [Seattle, Washington] area. We’re going to start our fund raising activities in earnest in the Fall and of course any one who can help support that [would be appreciated]. We’re going to try to build a beautiful, state-of-the-art museum but it’s all going to depend on much funding we can get. The idea behind the museum is that it’s the “Bruce Lee Action!” museum and we’re calling it that because the idea is to express not just the action movie aspect or the martial arts aspect, but the notion of action as it can be expressed in all it’s forms and how it was expressed in my father’s own life and legacy. [Actions like] social action, and taking action, and self actualization and all of those things so it’ll be a fun place with memorabilia and interactive exhibits. They’ll also be a research library and a place to really explore what it means to put your dreams into action. We really want to bring that into the world because I think that would be such a wonderful and lasting institute that people could go to and discover Bruce Lee and the depths of his legacy.

So we’re working on that and pretty soon there’s going to be some stuff on the website which will be related to the Bruce Lee Foundation (Which is the charity) that’s going to help raise funds and awareness for the museum, so people should keep their eyes out for that. We are also growing our apparel on the website and we’re going to have a fan area on the website soon [as well]. [It will have a] special staff and have special offerings through the website for those who sign up. We’re [also] going to be at the Toronto fan Expo for the UFC at the end of the month [that will be featuring] a special charity auction with a whole new line of Bruce Lee collectible figures made by company called “Round 5″. We’re going to be running an online contest too in association with that and there are going to be some great prizes for people so at the very end of April fans can tune into the website and enter the contest. The Grand Prize is a set of two tickets to an upcoming UFC event, and we have some great Ipad and cellphone covers and free downloads of the Bruce Lee cellphone game and a bunch of other things.

So we’re working on that and we’re filming a documentary that’s going to air on Spike TV at the end of this year about my dad, we’re interviewing a lot of great people for that and I’ve got some film projects in the works- *laugh* It just goes on, and on, and on! How long is this article going to be? *laugh* So yeah, there’s a lot of really great and exciting stuff coming out, so people [should just] keep tuning in to the site and following us on our various social media [outlets like] our blog or [Blogomatic3000] or what have you, and everybody can know what’s happening.

Well it sounds like a very busy year ahead of you!

Shannon Lee: Yeah, yeah it is!

Well we’d like to thank you for taking the time for this interview! It was very nice talking with you.

Shannon Lee: It was very nice talking to you too!

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