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Deconstructing the Stereotype

In The Grace Lee Project, the director Grace Lee sets out to put a face to the other women who share her name. Lee feels that she is a unique and does not fit into the stereotypical mold of Asian American women. When most of her interviewees were asked to describe the Grace Lee they knew, descriptions included quiet, shy, intelligent, and nice. In an attempt to break the stereotype, Lee sets up a website to let the other Grace Lees come to her. To her disappointment, most of them qualified as a stereotypical Grace Lee. She had to search long and far to uncover what makes them different. She traveled as far away as Korea and also closely within California. Those Grace Lees that she met were allowed to tell their stories, and by taking a passive listening role, the director Lee was able to dig up the differences and personal stories that made each unique. One Grace was a lesbian activist, another was a pastor’s wife and mother, and yet another, a shelter for her abused friend. Externally, they may appear to be just another Grace Lee, but by hearing their stories, Lee discovers the differences. Lee learns to find comfort in their similarities, as if the truthful stereotypes were a common thread that bound them together. At the end of the movie, Grace Lee has come to accept the stereotype, knowing that there is always more behind it.