‘I’m Fine’ Symbolizes the Intellect, Physicality, and Purpose of Lee Doud

Christina Jeter

Lee Doud has two birth certificates and dual citizenship between China and the U.S.because his father was an American citizen working in Hong Kong at the time of his birth. When he was just six months old, his family moved back to the states and settled in the East Bay, San Francisco. There he found and developed his passion for acting, spending his childhood obsessing over action movies and idolizing actors such as Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and anyone who had the privilege of playing James Bond.

From countless stage productions to the big screen, Lee has built a promising acting career in Los Angeles. His current projects include ‘I’m Fine’, Dark/Web’ and a short film which he also produced, ‘Ira’.

Your series I’m Fine recently released its second season on the Dekkoo streaming service. What is the series about?

I’m Fine is about a group of diverse gay men living in Los Angeles. The show begins with our lead character Nate and a recent break-up with his boyfriend. The show then follows Nate and his friends as they navigate love, friendship, and life in these modern times. We’re living in the technological age – connected by dating apps and social media. The way we interact with one another has changed so drastically and this is a lot of what we’re talking about in our show.

Who do you play in the series?

I play Jeff, Nate’s best friend and confidante. Jeff and Nate have a bit of a rocky relationship, as Jeff clearly has feelings for his best friend. Part of Jeff’s battle is always being seen as the best friend/sidekick and not as the love interest. I think that’s where he and I are pretty similar.

You recently wrote a piece for The Advocate entitled “The Gay Community’s Fear and Loathing of Asian Men Must End”. Why was it important to you to write this piece?

When we set out to do the second season of “I’m Fine”, creator Brandon Kirby and I began to discuss what I wanted to talk about with Jeff’s storyline. I told him that I wanted to address some of my real-life experiences as a mixed-race Asian-American. We wrote a date scene that was an amalgamation of some of the ignorant comments I’ve grown accustomed to hearing.

I was then asked to write an op-ed in The Advocate. It took a lot for me to work up enough courage to tell my story. It was very revealing and deeply personal – most of which I’d never really written down before. Funny enough, I almost decided to not write the piece at all. I was afraid of the scrutiny I would be under, the judgment I’d receive. I think for that reason, the piece was even more important for me to write. I needed to confront my fears. I wanted to call out my truth, my experience and I wanted other people who have felt similarly to feel safe enough to voice theirs. I wanted to create an open dialogue with all people, not just Asian-Americans. We’ve all been marginalized to an extent at some point in our lives. I believe that feeling is universal.

I’m so glad that I decided to go through with writing the piece. It’s something I’m incredibly proud of. The positive feedback I received was so humbling and outweighed all the negativity. I’m working on some follow-up pieces and will be speaking on a college campus this spring. I want to keep this conversation going for everyone who feels like their voice isn’t being heard.

How did you get started in the business?

I started acting at a young age. I fell in love with the theater and the energy around live shows. I spent summers doing theater programs and would work backstage during the evenings at my local repertory theater. I just wanted to be around the business. I went to UCLA and studied acting and once I graduated, continued working in the industry. I have such a deep love for the entertainment industry and can’t see myself working anywhere else.

Growing up, which actors did you look up to?

I was a big James Bond fan. Sean Connery was my hero and absolute favorite Bond. I always used to say that I wanted to be the first Asian-American James Bond. I grew up with a lot of action films. Jackie Chan and Jet Li were the only two Asian-American lead actors in the mainstream media. I’m not sure I even really fully realized that I grew up in a time where I didn’t get to see myself up on the big screen much. I was also a big fan of the Tomb Raider movies. I always thought Lara Croft was such a bad-ass lead character and I had the biggest crush on Angelina Jolie in my young teen years. The industry is making so many changes in the way it portrays women and racial minorities, but we still have such a long way to go.

What would be your dream role?

I think playing James Bond would still be a dream of mine. It’s such an iconic role, so I think it would be really difficult knowing that you’d constantly be compared to those who have done it before. I’d really love to do an action or thriller movie or show right now – something a little bit more physical. I’ve been training and have done a bit of boxing with my trainer. I’d love to fully immerse myself in more physical training for a role.

What do you have coming up next?

We’re in early discussions about a season 3 for “I’m Fine” and I would really like to continue telling that story. I think there’s a lot more that I want to say. I’m also writing right now. I’ve had some ideas for a feature film as well as for a TV series. I’m trying to focus and get them done. I’ve learned that telling the story in your head and in your heart can be really cathartic.

Lee Doud film credits include ‘The Amateur’, ‘5th & Alameda’, ‘The Trees’, ‘Barely Legal’, ‘After Jake’, ‘Another Stupid Day’, ABC’s ‘Last Man Standing’, Showtime’s ‘House of Lies’ and ‘Californication’.