Interview with Lela Lee – Author of Angry Little Girls - Aviva - Berlin Online Magazin und Informationsportal für Frauen Interviews im April 2024 - Beitrag vom 10.09.2007

Interview with Lela Lee – Author of Angry Little Girls
Stefanie Denkert

AVIVA-Berlin talked to the Korean American cartoonist and actress about the publication of her successful book in German, about her alter-hero Kim and why anger connects women world-wide.

AVIVA-Berlin: Hello Lela Lee! Congratulations to the publication of your wonderful comic book "Angry Little Girls" in Germany. Is this the first time "Angry Little Girls" has been published outside the USA?
Lela Lee: Outside of the US, it has been published in France only. So I am very excited to have it published in Germany!

AVIVA-Berlin: Did you expect your "Angry Little Girls" to become so successful, even international? Why can women from all over the world identify with your characters and their stories?
Lela Lee: Honestly, I had no idea it would become such a success with women all over the world. I think women all over the world are thought of as second class citizens, not as capable as men. So maybe that´s why "Angry Little Girls" resonates with women. We are universally connected by frustration of what women are expected to be.

AVIVA-Berlin: The humour of "Angry Little Girls" is subtle and subversive. You play a lot with stereotypes and undermine them. Did you have some negative response to "Angry Little Girls" as well? Did people find it offensive?
Lela Lee: Some very conservative people do not appreciate the anger. Some people have protested the use of anger and girls. But that´s precisely why people who understand it become fans. Girls are not allowed to be angry. But yes, I have had some people reprimand me for being an "improper female."

AVIVA-Berlin: Kim, the angriest of the girls, can probably be considered the main character of the "Angry Little Girls". I wonder, is Kim your alter-ego? How much Lela is in Kim?
Lela Lee: A lot of me is in Kim. She is my alter-hero. She gets to say all the things I wish I could say. In my real life, I have to be diplomatic when I communicate in day-to-day interactions. But in the comic strips, I can have fun and say whatever I want! (or rather Kim gets to)

AVIVA-Berlin: Is it true that you created your first angry girl character in 1994 (while you studied at UC Berkeley) because you were pissed off with the sexist depiction of women in animation art?
Lela Lee: Yes. That is true. I was an angry college student and I came up with the Angry Little Asian Girl the same night I saw some animation that was sexist. I was very angry with life and how unfair life as a female was. But I couldn´t articulate it. So I made my first video that night.

AVIVA-Berlin: You did a video titled "Angry Little Asian Girl" in 1994 – that marked the beginning of "Angry Little Girls". The stereotype of Asian girls is that they are shy and submissive. Girls are generally expected to be nice and caring for others – in short: anything but angry!
Lela Lee: So true. Now because there is a character that is called "Angry Little Asian Girl", a lot of girls are nicknamed that at work as a fun way to point out that side of their personality. And in ways, these girls who were not allowed to be angry can now be angry and it´s done with humor so it´s not as dangerous as real rage would be.

AVIVA-Berlin: Did the early 1990s "Riot Grrrls – movement" influence your creation of angry girl characters? Have you been a fan of the Riot Grrrls and their music, e.g. Courtney Love/Hole or Kathleen Hanna/Bikini Kill?
Lela Lee: I have heard of Riot Grrrls, but I never sought it out. It may have been in the air and I heard about it, but I liked more cuter images and songs with melancholy feelings or other such sweet things with subversive twists.

AVIVA-Berlin: I would love to see more of the "Angry Little Girls" – have you thought about turning it into a TV series or a movie?
Lela Lee: Yes, I´ve been approached, but who knows? I like working by myself or bossing people around and TV people won´t let me do that. (Lela laughs...)

AVIVA-Berlin: You are also an actress. Some of our readers may have seen you in "Friends", "Scrubs" or "Will & Grace". What are your future projects as an actress?
Lela Lee: Acting projects are not something I can predict. They come along in their own time. I do hope I can be a fun recurring character on a smart, funny show. But we´ll see what the future holds...

AVIVA-Berlin: Thank you and good luck and success for the future!
Lela Lee: Thank you! Thank you for interviewing me!

Please do read our review on "Angry Little Girls".


Beitrag vom 10.09.2007