MY FATHER THE HERO Not everybody knows I'm Bruce Lee's daughter. I'm really grateful I'm not a public figure; my father struggled with (fame). In particular, here in Hong Kong, when the films were so successful he could barely walk down the street. He liked his privacy, so it was difficult for him. There was a frenzy in the (international) press when Enter the Dragon came out (in 1973). Everyone wanted to know who Bruce Lee was. There was this big uproar, "Oh my gosh, he's so amazing," and then, "Oh, he's passed away." My mother thought, "He's not here anymore so it's gonna die down." It hasn't. Here we are, 41 years later, still talking about him. And for good reason. He tried to live what he believed. When you see him on screen you're not just seeing a performance, you're seeing the real human being. His message was … honestly express yourself, be your best self, cultivate yourself and don't try to imitate anyone. My favourite quote of my father's is, "The medicine for my suffering I had within me all along." I think that's true. If I can learn how to rely on my own strength, I can see the answers to my problems usually lie right there, within the problem itself.
A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE I was four when he passed away, so I don't have a tonne of visceral, visual memories of him. I do have memories of our time in Hong Kong. That's where my memories begin, in our old house, with our dogs and cats. We lived in Kowloon Tong, on Cumberland Road. Unfortunately, it's been converted into a love hotel. What I do have is the memory of the feeling of him: his presence, his energy, the security of him and the powerfulness of who he was. I remember going to Golden Harvest studios and visiting him on set. It's more like flashes and glimpses of things, which is why I say the feeling of his energy is so much more visceral to me. It gives me hope, knowing that if we're present with our children we imprint this presence on them, even if they're young.
FAMILY SECRET I've had people hang around me because I'm Bruce Lee's daughter, and it's kind of a blow. You start to ask yourself, "Who am I?", "What's valuable about me?", "Is what's valuable about me that I'm Bruce Lee's daughter?" When I was a kid, my mom told me not to go around telling people (Bruce was her father), because you want them to like you for who you are. But it made me feel like I had a secret. These days, I don't lead with the fact I'm Bruce Lee's daughter, but I don't hide it either.
I write, I've sung, I've acted, I'm a mother. I'm not married now but I used to be. I've had marriage proposals on Facebook and Twitter from fans but I don't give out my email address, so no grand gestures there. It's an interesting thing trying to raise my daughter, who's 11, with a balanced understanding of all of this. When she was really little, she walked up to some person and said, "Did you know Bruce Lee is my grandfather?" I was like, "No, no, no, no, no, no, no!"
NEW ROOTS I went to pre-school in Seattle (in the United States). All I remember about that was they served horrible food. Then we moved down to LA, and I grew up there from the age of five. So that is where my roots are. It's funny, because I lived here when I was little, it's like Hong Kong is in my blood. I come back and I feel, "Ahh, I'm back." I relax.
LOSING TOUCH WITH THE NORRISES For years we were good friends with the Norris family (in Way of the Dragon , Bruce Lee was pitted against Chuck Norris in an iconic fight scene at the Colosseum, in Rome). They lived two streets down from us (in LA) when we were kids, but I haven't seen them for a long time. They've moved to Texas. I've kept in touch with my father's students. Ted Wong was my martial arts sifu and Alan Jo is on the board of our non-profit Bruce Lee Foundation. I just saw (Japanese-American martial artist) Taky Kimura in Seattle, he was the best man at my mom and dad's wedding. But many of my father's students have passed away.
LIFESTYLE CHOICES I've dedicated a lot of my life to running the Bruce Lee businesses and continuing his legacy. Some people say I'm doing that to make money or to emulate him. That couldn't be further from the truth; I do it because I'm inspired by his message.
I've turned down film projects, licences with companies that wanted to do projects that made no sense or had no authenticity. Somebody wanted to do a colouring book, and we were like, "Well, that's an interesting way to bring the legacy to kids." Then they submitted the colouring book and it was so violent and aggressive. That was not the right message at all. BL Balanced Lifestyle & Beverages (which last month launched the Bruce Lee Instant Drinks line with Shannon) were interested in the iconic stature of my father. It wasn't about throwing Bruce Lee on some instant drinks; it's about a type of lifestyle, about health and philosophy. My father drank a lot of tea and he put supplements in his tea, so there's a lot of symmetry there.
The Johnnie Walker whisky ad (last year) was a decision we laboured over for a long time. I discussed it with my mom at length. My father didn't drink but he also didn't shame people who did. We never showed him with any alcohol and purposefully so. Would we do it again? I don't know, but I thought it was an interesting experiment.