She may be best known to some as the soft-spoken “Lilly” in the Pitch Perfect films, but in reality, Hana Mae Lee is not afraid to speak up.
The 32-year-old actress had some major wins in 2020, despite the times, as she returned as “Sonya” in the hit campy horror sequel The Babysitter: Killer Queen on Netflix. “Horror is one of my favorite genres and McG takes horror to a whole other level with the action sequences he does,” Lee says of the film’s director & co-writer McG. The Babysitter: Killer Queen took the #1 spot on Netflix in the U.S. when it premiered this past September.
Lee continues to hold a special place in her heart for her fellow “Bellas” from the Pitch Perfect franchise. Now officially a trilogy with films in 2012, 2015 and 2017, Lee has hopes that she and her A Cappella co-stars Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Hailee Steinfeld and more will sing another day. “I always thought since we did the first one, no matter what age, A Cappella groups would go on and perform at concerts, shows, gatherings, presidential stuff. I always felt like we could be like the Fast and Furious franchise. It would just be like a nice, fun thing to see like when we’re 80 and what that looks like as a group. I don’t know if Universal is going to do another one. I think all the girls are up for it and we’ve been together for like eight, nine years now. We’ll see.”
Following a 2020 year that began with historic Oscar wins for the South Korean film Parasite taking home the Best Picture award in February, Lee sees progress happening with more Asian leading roles in Hollywood, both in front of and behind the camera, yet still believes there is a ways to go. When speaking openly about her early frustrations in Hollywood, Lee says, “I could not for so long get a theatrical agent because they said there were no Asian roles and the only Asian roles that were out there were Kung Fu and ninja roles. At that time, I was only doing comedy.”
Despite the ongoing pandemic, Lee is continuing her acting pursuits, while also sharing a continuing passion for fashion designing and makeup artistry as she heads into 2021. She realizes that both a collective dialogue throughout Hollywood and an embracing of different cultures will be what’s needed to see lasting change and unwavering inclusivity in the film & television industry. “I also think it’s my generation and above that the arts wasn’t really considered something you could make money off of. So, a lot of the Asian families didn’t really support it. But now because they are, there is going to more Asian writers, more Asian directors, more Asian actors. The stories will become better, interesting, fuller and things we haven’t really seen on the screen yet. I think it’s a really great step forward. Really just opening up those channels and setting up all those opportunities, not just in the industry, but in the community of Yeah, let’s tell our stories and see what all that looks like is great and happening more and more.”