Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 31st 2014 Contents | PROFILES |
By Aurora Herrera
Photo by Daren Johnson
Makeup by Aurora Tardieu
JEANINE LEE KIM is a 22-year-old who lives the role of the do-it-all modern
woman with passion, dignity and heart. She is fiercely ambitious as she
manages her academic commitments, her job, her acting career and parent-
hood. Her personal tune of "Choice, not chance, determines your destiny," is
a mantra that she has put into practice since she was in secondary school,
and that she has utilized during moments of incredible challenge. "I've been
told to work hard for everything I have. I don't want anything handed to me.
I want a challenge."
Recently, Lee Kim challenged herself with a role in the Raymond Choo Kong
and First Instinct production, Diary of a Bad Red Woman. "Raymond asked
me to reprise my role from Diary of a Mad Black Woman," she said. "In this
production, Nikki is the lead and I am basically the 'horner woman', who
comes and steals her man. I am not like that though; I channel different peo-
ple in my life in order to play that role," Lee Kim insisted. "I am very nice. This
one time, though, a woman actually stopped me as I was coming out of the
bank to ask, "Why did you take her man?" I didn't even know what she was
talking about, because I was just going about my daily life."
With talent that convincing, it is quite lucky for us --- the public --- that while in
secondary school, Lee Kim claimed a space at the Necessary Arts studio to
practice her passion for drawing. Her mother encouraged her to try acting, and
when she discovered that she had a very natural flair for it, she landed a role in
Danielle Dieffenthaller's production Matthews in the Middle. She has been act-
ing consistently ever since and has appeared in several stage, television and
film productions, including Death at a Funeral, Diary of a Mad Black Woman,
Wild Girls, Why Did I get Married?, Positive and Pregnant, and Cool Boys.
Lee Kim also has a solid work ethic that has attracted praise from industry
veterans. During the run of Why Did I Get Married in Naparima Bowl, Lee Kim
fainted from the effects of an unexpected kidney infection, and chose to go
back on stage and finish the play when she was revived. "I decided to go back
on stage because I was a main character in the play and I just felt that I
signed on for this and I cannot let these people down," she said. "I had the
best support from my cast mates. They prayed for me and they had my back.
They were prepared with a mint, vomit bag, water and a hug at each side of
the stage. Shortly after, I worked with Debra Boucaud-Mason, and she said
that she was impressed. I think that to be taken seriously you have to really
dedicate yourself and put a marker and set a limit. I'm short, I'm young and I'm
Lee Kim also has a two-year-old daughter, named Jenna Marie, who is her
inspiration and the centre of her life. Even though her life is very busy, being
a good mother remains her main focus and is paramount to her personal
and professional success. "In everything I do, I just want her to be proud of
me," she said. "I want her to say 'Look! That's my mommy!' This role chal-
lenged me a lot on my personal side because I have to be there for my
daughter and do classes as well. My classes run from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm,
then I go to rehearsal, and then when I get home I spend time with my
daughter. I'm choosing to do all of this because of what I want to achieve
so I have to make it work."
"I'm lucky; I have the best support system ever," she reflected. "My parents
are always there for me when I need them. When I had my daughter, my
mother gave up her vacation to stay with me and help me. Whenever I
need to go to rehearsals my parents look after Jenna Marie, and when I'm
crying and I want to give up, my mother talks to me and tells me not to."
Lee Kim also looks up to other women in her life who encourage her to
keep striving for more. This list includes cast mates Nikki Crosby and
Rachel Walters, her boss Donna Chin Lee, her lecturer Abbigail Ajim, film
mentors Danielle Dieffenthaller and Penny Commissiong, her godmother
Joyce Thomas, her mother Cheryl Lee Kim, and her sister Jenna, her
daughter's namesake, who passed away last year from lupus. "My sister's
mantra in life was to just live, and that is what I am trying to do," she said.
"Every opportunity I have I'm trying to take it, grasp it and make the most
of it." So what's next for this formidable actress? "After I finish at SBCS I
want to get my MA in marketing, go to LA and see what can happen, but I
leave it up to God. Again, choice, not chance, determines your destiny," she
said. "I chose to be a mother, I chose to go back to school. I chose to do the
play. I am shaping my own destiny."
August 31, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
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