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New York-based Sue Lee was cast on FACE OFF immediately after
graduating from FX school. Despite the amount of crying during her interviews,
Lee is actually quite upbeat and always ready to laugh at herself, and how she
was portrayed on the show.
FANGORIA: Let me know what your background is.
SUE LEE: My parents are from Korea, and like a lot of
Asian-Americans that are second generation, your parents just hound you and try
to make you become a doctor or a lawyer. I studied my ass off to go to college
to become a doctor my entire childhood. I got really good grades, and I went to
a good school on grants and scholarships. When I graduated, it was 2007. I
originally studied to do medical prosthetics. It’s funny, because it was right
before the recession hit [when] I graduated. I was just stuck in an office job
doing something that I didn’t want to do. Then, someone told me that FX was
very similar. I decided to completely change careers, give up everything and go
back to FX school and learn all these things from scratch. As soon as I
graduated, as soon as I got a certificate that says, “I know how to make
molds,” I got cast on FACE OFF. And that was the craziest thing that has ever
happened to me.
FANG: If you were doing medical prosthetics, you were sort
of doing what your fellow contestant Brea Joseph does for a living.
LEE: Yes, and I feel that’s what made us a little bit
tighter on the show. I really respected what she did. I have a lot more
interest in that aspect. But I definitely love the whole fantasy element that’s
FANG: That must have been tough, going from school, never
having been on set, into a situation that is even harder than being on set.
LEE: [Laughs] People were talking about their credentials,
and I was, like, “uh, I don’t have any! I just got out of school!” Me, Ian
[Cromer] and Miranda [Jory] were the green contestants. People don’t realize
Miranda was out of school for a year at the time, and Ian had graduated almost
a year ahead of me. Out of the green students, I’m definitely a little bit more
inexperienced. It was difficult, but I was talking to someone about it, and
it’s very interesting. If you just look at the contestants and their
experience, it’s amazing. I was watching and [thinking] it’s incredible. So
you’re saying someone who knows the basics can actually outdo some of the
veterans in the industry. Time is the great equalizer. We had such crazy time
constraints you can’t get into elaborate things that maybe your fifteen/twenty
years of experience would [allow] you to do. I thought that was very
interesting to see it play out.
FANG: So having been on the show once, what would you do
differently, if anything, if you were to do it again?
LEE: At one point, I was a little scared about fabricating.
I’m definitely a sculptor. I wish I could have gotten into fabrication a little
bit more because I see how important [it is]. It’s not always about making a
great sculpture and putting on prosthetics. Sometimes, it’s more about design.
The final challenge I left on, that was a lot of fabrication.
FANG: You seemed to get along really well with Matt
[Valentine] and Brea. Why was that?
LEE: [Laughs] Well, Brea I liked her from the very start.
She seemed very real. She’s got her head together. There’s so little time to
see if you’ll get along with someone. And the funny thing is I was asking
around if anyone knew what The FX Lab was. I asked everyone and Matt was the only one who knew what it was! It’s a great
site for anyone who’s a self-starter. All three of us ended up being roommates,
and we ended up clicking very well. But the one thing that really ties us
together is that we’re all very proactive, we’re all definitely go-getters. I
just naturally gravitate toward that.
FANG: It’s funny, Brea and Matt seemed so chill, and, let’s
be honest, you were a little emotional during your time on the show.
LEE: [Laughs] Oh, my God! I was scolded by my mom! “Why were
you crying all the time?” Let’s think about it – when you’re on the show,
you’re stuck in a bubble. You have no access to the outside world. You never
know if you should be very careful about what you do when you’re back in the
house when the cameras aren’t there. When I went back to the house, I kept to
myself, I tried to be very pleasant, because it’s a competition. You don’t want
to vent to the wrong people. And you just need to vent sometimes. So the funny
thing is, whenever you see me crying, it’s not during the work process, it’s
during the interviews. You see me getting really emotional during the interview
process because we keep all these emotions inside, and then when we’re doing
the interviews, it’s very therapeutic. Sometimes you do need to have a release.
It’s just unfortunate that all those releases spliced together on TV make me
look like a victimized person [Laughs]. But I’m not really! I don’t cry that
much! I’m very happy-go-lucky! And I think towards the end of the show you see
more of that coming out.
FANG: It sounds like you have a great sense of humor about
the whole thing.
LEE: Yeah! I’m always laughing. I’m always laughing at
myself. I’m really a spaz. It’s funny because, when you watch the show, you
wonder if people are like this in real life. You’re under these crazy
conditions, time constraints, and situations, and people’s competition comes
out. Everyone on the show, I respect them immensely, and we’re all friendly.
After the show you go back to real life, and you realize everyone’s fantastic.
They’re all cool with each other. Everyone’s so crazy talented. I respect them
FANG: How did you feel when they told you you had to stay
and help the finalists with their designs? Were you just relieved the
competition part was over for you? Were you bummed you had to help someone else
LEE: I honestly believe the three people that made it to the
finals truly deserved to be there, and I was very happy to just work with them
again. The funny thing is, Ian and I actually went to the same school, and we
never got a chance to work together at school. So it was really cool to see
what we played against each other in terms of ideas. It was great. I really enjoyed
working with him. There were no hard feelings. I think I left on a high note. I
liked being eliminated. [Laughs] The judges tell you nice things! It wasn’t a
bad ending like a lot of the other episodes. Matt and I left on a high note,
and the judges gave us great compliments.
FANG: It seems like the FX world is really small. How many
of the other contestants did you know before you started shooting the show?
LEE: I knew a lot of the other people knew each other,
however I’m not in California. I’m not saying I’ll never go to California, but
I like being in New York and being an East Coaster where the industry is
located on the other side of the country. However, once everything was over and
I figured out who everyone was, it was nice to know these people are really
talented, and I wish I could get to know them more.
FANG: What’s up next for you?
LEE: I’m currently working at a company called Gotham FX.
I’m learning so much here. I’m having a blast.
FANG: Do you see yourself staying in film FX? Or maybe going
back to medical prosthetics?
LEE: I don’t want to close any doors. I love movies. My
parents, my grandparents [and I], on Saturdays and Sundays, all we’d do would
be watch movies all the time when I was younger. I watch a ton of movies. I
don’t want to say I don’t want to do movies anymore. However, being in New
York, the whole fine art scene is huge. It’s such a great place if you want to
be super creative. I think that aspect of New York is definitely going to allow
more doors to be opened, not just in the FX world.
FANG: So, you’re not a lawyer. You’re not a doctor. What do
you parents think of you now?
LEE: [Laughs] They probably still think I’m really weird.
They’re just happy I got a job. They don’t pressure me any more. If anything,
this is a lesson for Asian parents—save your money because your kids are going
to do whatever they want in the end anyway. My parents are very proud of me.
They try to keep up with me. They tell me they watch movies like THE TERMINATOR
[and say], “How did they do that?” It’s really cute. It’s nice that they’re
finally on board with the whole FX boat. I’m really happy.
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