Dana Lee was born in a village outside of Guanzhou (Canton) China. His family immigrated to the U.S. when he was seven and settled in Houston, Texas. As one of a handful of Chinese-Americans living in segregated Houston, Dana was exposed to both the White and Black communities from an early age. His father had a grocery store in the fifth ward, a Black neighborhood, and their home was located in Denver Harbor, a poor White section of town. Growing up shy all of his childhood, Dana took acting classes at Stephen F. Austin High School to overcome it. He immediately fell in love with acting and eventually became an all-city actor. To this day, Dana has never forgotten what his high school acting coach, Mr. Jerry Long, told him: “A good actor can transcend race, ethnicity, and color.” Immediately after graduating from high school, Dana made a beeline to Los Angeles. But, because of his parent’s disapproval of acting, it was not until many years later that he went headlong into the “biz.” In the intervening years, Dana joined the Marine Corps Reserve and got his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. Dana credits Jerry Thorpe with giving him his entry into SAG with a role on “Kung Fu” and Stephen J. Cannell for giving him a career in TV, appearing in many of Cannell’s shows. He is also grateful to Sylvester Stallone for the opportunity to work with him in “Rambo: First Blood, Part II.” In addition to his prolific film and TV career, Dana has also been active on stage. He has performed at such prestigious venues as The Public Theatre in New York City, The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and The Doolittle and The Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. He has acted in classics by Shakespeare, Ibsen, and Chekhov and in modern plays by Miller, Albee, and Shepard. For many years, Dana was a major driving force at East-West Players, America’s most renowned Asian-American theatre. Among his most memorable stage works was playing George to Nancy Kwan’s Martha in The Singapore Repertory Theatre’s production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and Dr. Rank to Shabana Azmi’s Nora, in “Nora,” Ingmar Bergman’s translation/adaptation of Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House,” also at SRT. Dana is a distinguished theatre director, too, having won many awards for directing. Dana is married to his college sweetheart, Michele. They have two beautiful daughters. Their eldest, Jennifer, is a physical therapist, and the youngest, Danielle is graduating with a Master’s Degree in production design from AFI. In 2002, Dana won the Award of Excellence at the Big Bear Lake International Film Festival. He was also recognized for his acting achievements by the Chinese-American Society of Los Angeles.
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