Back in January, Shannon Lee, the daughter of Bruce Lee, told NMR that she was just discovering the power of new media. Having worked tirelessly to preserve her father’s legacy over the years, it’s been more recently that she has managed to grow the Bruce Lee official Facebook fanpage to include over 3.8 million fans, while also racking up millions of views on the Bruce Lee YouTube channel. There’s no question that her quest to make sure Bruce Lee’s legacy lives on with the younger generation is succeeding, as her father’s quotes and pictures are commonplace on popular sites like 9gag and Reddit.
This month, Shannon will launch her first new media campaign with the online video game community Raptr. This is her first full dive into launching a campaign at such a scale on the internet.
I recently again had the honor of meeting up with Shannon at her Los Angeles office. After a quick tour where she showed us Bruce Lee relics and memorabilia, we sat down for an interview in the special archive room dedicated to her father. Her and her team were so secretive about the room that we were extremely limited on what we could film there. In our interview, Shannon shares details of her partnership with Raptr, the dream team she would assemble to create the ultimate Bruce Lee movie, her love of J.J. Abrams, and the one thing she’d like to say to her father if given the chance.
Check out the full interview video above or enjoy a partial transcript below.
What made you feel that the video game community would be the perfect place to tackle for this project?
Shannon Lee: My father has been homaged in so many video games, and actually the video game space is one that we are wanting to enter into ourselves. There have been a number of reasons why we haven’t, primarily that we didn’t have the rights to do so up until fairly recently about a year ago. I think the reason that we feel like that would be successful for us is because my dad is a martial artist, action person who’s made these phenomenal films. Video games are action packed, so it seems like a no-brainer, but we want to do it right; we want to do something that is in line with the legacy and super entertaining. How cool would it be to play Bruce Lee — either be him or be in interaction with him in some way — in a universe that is of his making?
There are a lot of big community sites out there like 9gag and Reddit, and your father’s quotes and pictures are always consistently on the front page of their sites. How does that make you feel to know that your father still has that relevance to a younger demographic?
Amazing. It’s very sort of heartwarming to me in a way because I find so much value in his words, in his actions, in the example of his life. It’s very important to me and touching to me that it still lives on and that people of that age group are finding it, are finding relevance in it, finding meaning in it. The whole reason that I do all of this is because of that, because I feel there is relevance and inspiration to be had from his life and his words. And if other people feel that way — especially young people who have their whole lives ahead of them and the ability, we all have the ability to anytime do something great but to really shape their lives in a meaningful way, it’s amazing to me. It is what it’s all about.
Before this whole new media boom and all these people using social media, were you ever kind of afraid that your father’s legacy was disintegrating?
Definitely. Well, let me put it this way: There is always a learning curve, right? There is a part of his legacy that will live on forever. It’s lived on for 40 years without much help from me. I’ve been involved in it now for the last 12 years in varying degrees. For a long time we didn’t have control over our destiny, the rights to utilize his name, and we finally got those back and little by little we’re gaining ground. In my mind of course, Bruce Lee — dad — is of course he is great. Everybody loves Bruce Lee — who doesn’t love Bruce Lee? It’s amazing; who wouldn’t want to use Bruce Lee for this, that and the other thing? Who wouldn’t remember Bruce Lee or who wouldn’t think he’s awesome? But when we started down the road in the business it was more of a struggle than I thought it was going to be. I really thought, “Hey it’s a no-brainer — he’s amazing,” but when you have to be sort of actively out in the consciousness in a new way, in a more pro-active way, people still love it; they still look at the movies, but those are old movies, and they don’t have as much access to his message maybe as you would like them to have, and so yes, I think there was a danger especially when I first stepped in around 2000. It wasn’t a danger — I guess what I am trying to say — it wasn’t a danger I was super aware of until I started trying to do something with it that. A lot of things had not been given a lot of care, a lot of attention, and we needed to give them some care and attention, and we needed to start putting something new out there. That is our goal; we want to continue to put something new out there in bigger and better ways, because I don’t really want my father to be about nostalgia. I want him to be relevant today, and he is. I think the thing that is great and beautiful about him is his message will always be relevant, so if we can apply that to something contemporary then it will continue to thrive.
Follow the Bruce Lee legacy:
Raptr’s Bruce Lee Video Game: http://raptr.com/LinkSmash/news/