When Jenny Lee-Gilmore was 10, her school included her in a recruitment campaign that predicted the future trajectory of different children. The teachers decided Jenny looked like a future poet. This turned out to be a prescient choice. While Jenny hasn’t spent much time writing poetry, she’s become a skilled storyteller. Jenny’s talent for stories was honed during her childhood in Northamptonshire, England. With an English father and a Chinese-Canadian mother, Jenny was aware at an early age of being different. Life in small English villages leans towards the traditional. It was, in many ways, idyllic but not always a comfortable place to be. People noted her differences in ways that made her feel othered. These early experiences gave Jenny an enduring appreciation of identity, inclusion and social justice. After relocating to Vancouver with her family in 2010, her life changed enormously. It was an opportunity to discover and celebrate her mixed heritage. She gained a newfound confidence to explore her creativity. She completed her BFA in Film Production at UBC where she wrote and directed her first short film Breakaway which played at numerous festivals across North America and was selected in the Top 9 of CBC Short Film Face Off. These were transformative years full of opportunities to act, direct, write, produce and form enduring friendships with other creative people. Since graduating in 2019, Jenny’s won places in prestigious programs such as the VIFF Catalyst Mentorship Program, GEMS TV Producer Program and the Women in the Director’s Chair Story and Leadership Program. Meanwhile, Jenny’s continually hustled to find or create opportunities as so few still exist for women of colour. She’s continued to act, write, direct and work in the industry on set. Who knows – one day she might even find time to write some epic poetry.
-Written by Kelley Lee Gilmore – Professor and Jenny’s mum
Which ‘hood are you in?
I’m in Mount Pleasant. It’s the perfect balance of being close to downtown while having a neighbourhood community feel. Plus, the coffee shops, restaurants and vintage stores on main are amazing!
What do you do?
I’m a writer, director, producer, and actor. I work in both narrative and documentary. That can be a mouthful so maybe I should start saying storyteller or filmmaker. Story is what draws me to all these different professions. I’m often asked which job I prefer or what I would pick if I had to pick one. Sometimes I have to focus on only one for scheduling or financial reasons but ideally, I’d never have to pick between them. Creatively I wouldn’t be satisfied just doing one. However, I can best service a story that dictates what role I’m in. The stories I’m most passionate about are female-centric and Asian Canadian stories that are often overlooked or neglected by mainstream media. I strive to create meaningful and authentic stories that resonate with audiences.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently in production with a CBC Short Doc called Little Miss Sleepy about my diagnosis of Narcolepsy, a chronic neurological condition that affects the brain’s ability to control its sleep and wake cycles. I’m extremely excited but also nervous to be so vulnerable on camera and share my journey with people. I’m writing a horror feature titled Dormant, inspired by my Narcolepsy. I’m co-writing with Alyssa Aussant a feature titled Mixed Feelings which is a coming-of-age drama about a mixed-race girl. I also have a few other projects on my development slate.
Where can we find your work?