Living the Legacy of Bruce Lee
with Shannon Lee of the Bruce Lee Foundation
Bruce Lee is considered to be the most influential martial artist of all time. Join Shannon Lee, daughter of Bruce Lee and Founder of the Bruce Lee Foundation, for a conversation with host Tetiana Anderson on how she’s carrying on her father’s legacy of creativity, equality, and innovation to inspire people around the world.
April 30, 2021
Anderson: Bruce Lee -- you've no doubt heard his name. He is a Chinese American film actor and director, best known for his martial arts skills and his breakout role as sidekick Kato in the 1960s TV series "The Green Hornet." Lee was on the brink of international superstardom when his life ended much too soon, but his legacy and philosophy live on. Hello and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Tetiana Anderson. Bruce Lee's legacy of creativity, equality and pioneering innovation continues to inspire people all around the world. His daughter, Shannon Lee, is the founder of the Bruce Lee Foundation and she joins me now to talk about carrying on her father's legacy. And Shannon, thanks for being here.
Lee: Thank you. My pleasure.
Anderson: So your father was an internationally renowned martial artist, pop icon. He is credited with bridging the West and the East. What do you attribute his level of influence on the world, especially given the fact that he passed away before we have come to know what is superstardom today?
Lee: Yeah, I mean, I think I attribute his influence to his really amazing work ethic, as well as his deeply ingrained philosophy. He believed in self actualization, which was to be the best version of himself, and he also believed to be a bridge between himself and the world. So he believed in being in harmony and connection with the world and sharing himself and his identity and his culture as widely as he could.
Anderson: You have said that your father was a force of nature in his films -- how are you channeling that same force of nature in the foundation when it comes to using that force to carry on his legacy?
Lee: I mean, to me, he really is a force of nature. His legacy is both inspiring and extremely healing. And I just find it to be my job to amplify that and to share it with as many people as I can. I want people to feel healed, to feel inspired, to feel seen, and to try to help them to be the best versions of themselves.
Anderson: And you're amplifying that through the programing that the foundation is doing. What are some of the specific programs that you're offering?
Lee: Yeah, we have a summer camp initiative for kids called Camp Bruce Lee, where we teach martial arts and we also teach my father's philosophy through activities and games and interactions to kids so that they can start to interact with a sense of who they are in a fun and engaging way. Do a little introspection in a fun and engaging way. And then also my belief and my father's belief is that a participation in martial arts really helps to build inner strength. That helps to build confidence. Martial arts is not about violence, which many people confuse. It's really about building up the inner being, if you will. And so we want to promote that confidence in our kids. And we have other initiatives, we have Bruce Lee exhibits that we put on museums all around the world. We have our One Family initiative where we support the good works of other charities, as well as we have an initiative we're just launching through the One Family where we're looking to create more imagery and visuals of togetherness throughout the world.
Anderson: And Shannon, I want to ask you about you. Your trajectory changed quite a bit. You were going to go to Hollywood and pursue a career there, but you got diverted to the foundation. What inspired you to make that shift?
Lee: You know, I really enjoyed being creative and being an actor, but it was at a time right after my brother had died and I was in a lot of personal distress and pain. And it was actually my father's writings that helped see me through that time in my life. And it made it very clear to me that this was something that I wanted other people to know about and to share.
Anderson: We are, of course, living in the age of coronavirus, and at the time when that the Asian American community has faced some pretty severe blowback in certain cases resulting from associations with the virus. Is there a role for the foundation when it comes to smoothing things over between local West and East, similarly to the way your father did, and correcting misconceptions during times like these?
Lee: Yeah, our role is in creating awareness. Our role is in raising funds for AAPI organizations. But also we want to be out there promoting the One Family message. And so we're working on initiatives to create visual images of our one human family here on this planet, to promote unity and togetherness.
Anderson: Togetherness for everyone. And, Shannon, if people want to find out more about the foundation's work, what's the website?
Anderson: Shannon Lee, the founder of the Bruce Lee Foundation, thank you so much for joining me.
Lee: Thank you.
Anderson: And thanks to our viewers as well for watching, as always, for more great conversations with leaders in your own community and across the country, go to comcastnewsmakers.com. I'm Tetiana Anderson.