ARTICLE: Filmmaker Deborah Lee Fong Transcends Conventual Wisdom (FILM)

Deborah Lee Fong will prove conventional wisdom wrong every time. Conventional wisdom says women with over thirty years of experience working as a dancer and actress will have a harder and harder time finding diverse roles. Conventional wisdom says they will struggle to even find work. Deborah Lee Fong, however, upends such generalizations. The Panamanian/American performer smashes tropes with her talent and monumental work ethic. Fong knows that, whether you are twenty, forty, or sixty years old, being a self-motivator is key and her laser focus on work allows her to enjoy countless chances in a time when those are supposed to be drying up for her.

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She’s been a major player in the success of several high-profile productions. Her appearances in the movie You and Your Decisions as well as PBS programming Footsteps and Footsteps 2 has brought a greater notoriety to her name than at any other point in her career. Three decades and a few years hasn’t dulled Deborah Lee Fong’s sensibilities nor her responsiveness. She’s shares the same deep connection with performing that drove her into show business to begin with. It’s only become bigger and more refined over time.

2022 will be even bigger. Fong has already nailed down several confirmed appearances and more are in the offing. To see someone pursuing creative work with such ferocity only leaves one answer — passion. She burns with an undying fervor to create, communicate with audiences, and find a greater understanding of herself and life through the process. It is the classic definition of what makes an artist go. It’s an inner voice within that will likely never let her completely rest. It’s being born to do something rather than having a job.

It is not work if you love what you do. Appearing at the UrbanWorld Film Festival isn’t going to rake in the cash, it isn’t Sundance, but it has a quarter-century long reputation and fulsome critical respect. Making an appearance there is a mark of distinction and Fong’s role as Agnes in the Live Screenplay Reading of Secret Santa stands as one of the high points in festival history. It wouldn’t be any surprise to see Fong reappear at future festivals or similar events. It isn’t difficult to imagine she feels immense personal nourishment surrounded by other creative types.

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We should all be so enthusiastic about what we love. Life is short, what waits beyond is far from guaranteed, so we should feel tremendous urgency to dedicate ourselves to something greater than ourselves. It is unfinished, but Deborah Lee Fong is building a legacy. She’s securing her place in a long-running tapestry of unique souls who want to share their hearts with the world and possess the skill to portray life in a way we recognize. We see ourselves in these individuals. Long may Deborah Lee Fong continue to create, love, inspire, and live. We should keep following her journey through the next year and enjoy some of the fruits blossoming from her hard work.

Colin Jordan