EMPOWERMENT - DIVERSITY
By Lily-Lee Wong
I am ½ Chinese and ½ Cuban, grew up in Houston, TX in the 60’s and 70’s. My parents had a super immigrant mentality - hard working, wanting to give their kids the best life possible; be American and be grateful for the freedoms afforded by this great Country. I was and I am all for that, 100%. But we did not speak of differences, or discuss that every group really likes their own and your adorable diverse, multi ethnic kids might never fit in anywhere completely! Oh my - all good except, for me, troubling at times. It required adjusting, living in confusion, being an outsider often, afraid to jump into things too far. I was fearful of not fitting in or of being rejected. I was surprised that others did not see me the way I saw myself, they saw my skin color and not the fun cool chick I wanted to be. Don’t worry, I am a rebel and I found my way.
JOURNEY - NYC - Broadway - Real Estate…. All good.
About 20 years ago, my husband and I adopted an amazing, beautiful daughter from Hunan Province in China. Three years later we went to Anhui Province and brought our second beautiful and amazing daughter home. I decided that Sabrina and Izzy would not lose their birth culture. They would be able to be part of any group of Chinese people and feel comfortable. I would give them as much of it as I could muster, so we surrounded ourselves with friends and teachers in Chinatown that taught them about being Chinese. They gave them comfort, advice, experiences that gave them knowledge of where they came from by using art, food, language and culture. We had dozens of friends in the Chinese Adoption community. I wanted them to always look in the mirror and love what they saw and know that being Chinese is awesome! For me a connection to a part of my own culture was made through them.
JOURNEY- Chinese Dance - Language - Food - People…. All good.
Last year the movie, Crazy Rich Asians, came out. I took the girls and some of their adopted friends to see it. It was eye candy, beautiful, funny, the actors were all wonderful and they were ALL ASIAN. All of them. There were no tragedies, no silly accents, no babies lost, no multiple wives, no beatings, just cool interesting fun people. There was a love story, laughter, beautiful fashion…. Asians represented as just normal, happy, complicated but balanced people. Wow. At the end of the movie, all of us ladies stood up and cheered, we looked at each other and just beamed. We all realized for the first time we can have a seat at the table and the table will be good. I did not know what I was missing until that moment. That I need to be represented in a positive way and these young ladies did too. I am glad the knowledge and confidence is coming to them early in life.
JOURNEY - Represented - Positive - Relatable - Growth - Power…. All good.
Yes to empowerment through belonging and through representation. Diversity is only good when each group/person at the table is able to accept their power, love it, own it and then fully share it.
Let us keep working at that, in the theatre, media, literature, every art form, every work place, every political body…. the JOURNEY IS ALL GOOD.
LILY-LEE WONG hails from Houston, Texas where she studied with the great Patsy Swayze and danced with the Houston Jazz Ballet. She did numerous musicals with Theatre Under the Stars starting when she was 15 and while the organization was in its nascent stages.
She performed at dinner theatres, in commercials, with regional ballet companies and toured with HJBC to great acclaim. She left New York to tour with A Chorus Line in the role of Connie Wong in the First International Tour eventually landing the same role on Broadway. Once in New York, she worked on numerous soap operas and commercials, as well as industrials.
In 1983, she joined the First National touring company of CATS and soon after moved to the Broadway company where she remained proudly for the next 11 years.
Since leaving the theatre in 1995, she has been a successful real estate agent with Halstead Property Company selling over hundreds of millions in NYC coops, condos and Townhouses.
A 30 plus year passion for New York City, combined with a competitive nature, fight to win instinct and a love for meeting new and interesting people makes Real Estate the perfect profession for Lily Lee Wong. With over two decades of experience, she has done thousands of transactions at every price point and in every area of the city. Reliability, integrity, honesty, diligence mixed with heavy doses of humor and patience keep her referrals and repeat customer base solidly in place. She is active with the New York Chinese Cultural Center and in her own Harlem Community. As a working mom of two beautiful daughters, she is well versed on all things regarding the NYC school system and any extracurricular activities for all ages. Having renovated their townhouse in Harlem in 1999 from the ground up, she has garnered contacts for any renovation, large or small that she will happily refer out to clients. In her free time, she loves art, theatre, travel, horses, dogs, music and culinary arts.