Yeon Jin (Grace) Lee is a Korean American filmmaker and a student in the Film and TV Production MFA Program at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Born in South Korea, she immigrated to the United States with her parents and her younger brother at the age of twelve.
After spending a high school summer in Cambridge, Massachusetts as part of the MIT Women’s Technology Program, Ms. Lee entered UC Berkeley as an electrical engineering and computer science major. She did her undergraduate research at the Berkeley Graphics Lab during which she co-authored a finite-element method based simulation paper that was accepted to SIGGRAPH 2012.
In summer 2011, she joined Pixar Animation Studios as a computer graphics research and technical director intern. Her internship was sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Sci Tech Council. Through this organization she met many inspiring live-action filmmakers who influenced her decision to pursue live-action, narrative filmmaking. After graduation, Yeon Jin accepted a full-time computer scientist position at the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA Ames Research Center. She left the position after five years to pursue an MFA degree in Film and TV production at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.
Her first short film, Driving While Undocumented, a story of an undocumented student pulled over by a law-enforcement officer in Nevada, garnered acceptances to several film festivals, including the Irvine International Film Festival, Gainesville Latino Film Festival, and the Hollyweb Festival. Her first-year USC short film, Revelations, was also fortunate enough to receive positive reception. Another story about the challenges that undocumented immigrants face, Revelations was accepted to the 2019 Katra Film Series. Ms. Lee had the privilege of producing USC films: Flat Echo, one of the three films chosen for the Advanced Narrative Production course; The Ball Method, supported by the 2018 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Production Grant.
She is currently in pre-production of her USC thesis film, Denisse, inspired by a true story of an undocumented medical student.
Ms. Lee believes that filmmakers have the unique opportunity to provoke thought and engender empathy through storytelling. Her experiences as one of the few female engineers at UC Berkeley and NASA, and as a first-generation immigrant, have given her much insight into the unique challenges one faces as a minority. Her goal is to continue making films that bring voice to the underrepresented communities whose experiences she shares.