Let Me Go Do it Like it’s Never Been Done! With The Orville’s J Lee

An interview with the Orville's J Lee

Let Me Go Do it Like it’s Never Been Done! With The Orville’s J Lee

My guest is Orville’s J Lee.  Orville’s J Lee is an actor, writer, director, and musician. He’s been a part of numerous shows like The Family Guy and American Dad. He also helped to write and produce and do voices for The Cleveland Show. Most recently though he has been rocking it as Lieutenant Commander John LaMarr on Fox’s hit show The Orville. You probably know it but if you don’t, check it out, you’ll love it. Plus he just wrapped up production on his own film, one that he wrote, directed, and produced, it’s called Wednesdays, we’re going to be talking about that as well.

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Instagram: @jleefilm

Twitter: @jleefilm

The Orville on Fox


J’s got this awesome story you’re going to love. He moved to LA with about 200 bucks in his pocket, worked his butt off to make it happen. He’s also proud of his St. Louis roots and if you follow him on Instagram, as you should, you will know that his battle cries are #dobetter and #dothework, so it just seemed right to finally get him on DREAM THINK DO. J. Lee, welcome to the show man.

J Lee: Hey. Yeah, what’s happening? Thanks for having me, I appreciate it.

Mitch Matthews: Absolutely.

J Lee: Yeah.

Mitch Matthews: I can tell you… DREAM THINK DO family, I got to meet J last year when two-time DREAM THINK DO guest Howard Berger and a good friend took my family and me around the set of The Orville and we got to meet J, which was so cool. I was a huge fan already, but man… when we got to meet you… you loved on my family.  I so appreciated that, man.

J Lee: Yeah, for sure.

Mitch Matthews: Then I got to dig into your story and wow.  You’re one inspiring dude.

J Lee: Yeah. You know, listen, I try to just … You know we only get to go around this thing once as far as we know so I try to just be happy and try to keep a positive attitude whenever I can because life is already hard enough, you might as well try to be happy.

Mitch Matthews: Yeah, absolutely.

J Lee: But it was great meeting you and your family. You guys are so sweet, your family was nice and they were kind to me, so yeah that was nice.

Mitch Matthews: I loved it, man. You hung out with us, you guys were in the midst of running around, the production’s going on, but you stopped and hung out with us so it was just awesome.

Mitch Matthews: Let’s dive into your history because I know DREAM THINK DOers are just going to love your story, man. You grew up playing the piano.

J Lee: Sure.

Mitch Matthews: You played Carnegie Hall as a teenager, right?

J Lee: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

Mitch Matthews: You’re an athlete, too. If I understand it correctly, your record still stands in your high school for the 300 hurdles.

J Lee: I go back every year just to make sure nobody breaks it and if they do I told them, I’ll lace my spikes back up and get back out there. I need to stand for a while.

Mitch Matthews: That’s right, let’s do this. I love it. So then you go to Indiana University and the school of music there, Jacobs School of Music. You leave St. Louis after you graduate there, you move to LA with, if I’m understanding it, about two hundred bucks in your pocket.

J Lee: Before I came to LA what happened was I had gone to school for classical piano and then I actually broke my thumb freshman year. I was on a scholarship and I break my thumb.

Mitch Matthews: Holy cow.

J Lee: That was the first time I had to look at my life and say, “Hey, what do I want to do?” Because I’d been playing piano my whole life.

Mitch Matthews: Right.

J Lee: I just didn’t know if I wanted to continue down that path, being a concert pianist and everything. I had broken my thumb and that was the first time I had taken an acting class, so I kind of had that semester off. I remember my professor, Edmund Battersby. He has since passed away, he was a lovely, lovely man, an incredible teacher, and musician. I just was so scared I was going to lose my scholarship.

Mitch Matthews: Yeah.

J Lee: I had to get surgery and I was just freaking out. I went into him and I said, “Hey, I broke my thumb.” He goes, “Okay.” And he gave me some left-handed repertoire and he’s like, “All right, I’ll see you next week.”

Mitch Matthews: How awesome.

J Lee: I was playing piano just with my left hand and so I just rehabbed that, but I just said that to say that’s how I got into acting. I took my first acting class, fell in love with that, so at that point I knew I wanted to come to LA to be an actor.

Mitch Matthews: No kidding.

J Lee: When I graduated I was the musical director for West Side Story in St. Louis at a local theater and I got paid from that, I think I might have got paid like a thousand bucks or something. I’m back at home, I’ve got my two degrees, I’ve got a thousand bucks, but I’ve got bills and I’ve got a car note and I’ve got to eat.

Mitch Matthews: Yeah.

J Lee: I remember just getting down to my last $200 and at the time I really wanted to come to LA and I just knew, I said, “Man if I crack this hundred dollar bill I’m not leaving. I’m not going to leave, I’m going to be in St. Louis for at least another couple of years.”

Mitch Matthews: Yeah.

J Lee: I was talking to my brother about, he worked at MasterCard, I was like, “Man, maybe I’ll work at MasterCard for a couple of years, save some money.”

Mitch Matthews: Yeah, build up some savings, do the smart thing.

J Lee: Yeah. I’ll go to LA in a couple of years.

Mitch Matthews: Yeah.

J Lee: I thought about playing basketball overseas, I tried all these things. I got my last 200 and finally I just went to the bank I just said a prayer and next thing I know I was on the road.

Mitch Matthews: No kidding. Holy cow.

J Lee: Yeah.

Mitch Matthews: That’s amazing. And then immediately it just all came together, right? You immediately started starring in shows and all that stuff.

J Lee: Oh, it’s so easy, it’s so easy to do.

Mitch Matthews: Right. Exactly right.

J Lee: Oh, anybody can do it.

Mitch Matthews: [crosstalk 00:08:57] overnight success.

J Lee: Yeah. You don’t have to work hard. Yeah, it’s a piece of cake.

Mitch Matthews: I do love your story.

J Lee: But no, you know what? Yeah, no. But I tell people this when you can line up your desires and your purpose then you’ve found the sweet spot and the world has no choice but to conspire to help you win. I go back to that moment at my mom’s house when I went to the bank I remember saying this prayer. I was like, “Look, God, I really, really, really want to go to LA. I really want to be out there.”

Mitch Matthews: Yeah.

J Lee: But I had to take a moment, I said all right … Sometimes you’ve got to be careful what you ask for. I remember saying, “Hey man …” and that’s how I talk to God. I’m like, “Hey, what’s up man? Look, let’s talk.” Right? I’m like, “God, what’s up man? I really want to go, but if I’m not supposed to go, if I’m supposed to stay in St. Louis for some reason I don’t know, if I’m not supposed to go out there, I’ll stay. But if I’m not supposed to stay and if I’m supposed to go, let me go out there and let me do it like it’s never been done before.”

J Lee: Literally I got hit with the message, and this was that night, it was like going to LA. I went into the room and I said, “Mom, I’m driving to LA.” She said, “Okay.” And then I was out.

Mitch Matthews: I love it. I love it, man, I love that story. I love … There are so many elements of it. Breaking your thumb, I mean that would be devastating, right? But you pivoted and it opened you up.

J Lee: Yeah.

Mitch Matthews: I think sometimes, I’m kind of a believer that God doesn’t throw us those curve balls necessarily, he doesn’t throw a sickness or illness or injury or those kinds of things but he can certainly redeem those things, right?

J Lee: Sure.

Mitch Matthews: To then put you on a completely different track. But I love the fact … That’s a bold prayer, man. That’s a bold ask and then to actually follow through.

J Lee: Yeah, that was scary. That’s like going to the table and saying, “I’m going to bet it all on black.” And then you know if the message had come back, no you’re supposed to stay here in St. Louis with your family.

Mitch Matthews: Yeah.

J Lee: I left my family, I left a lot. My friends, there was a lot I had in St. Louis.

Mitch Matthews: I bet.

J Lee: That was a big ask but to get big results sometimes you’ve got to be willing to ask those big questions.

Mitch Matthews: That’s so true. I love it. Okay, for those that aren’t familiar with your story, I love this part of your story. You get out there. To my understanding you actually lived in the car for a little while until you got a job and then your first job wasn’t acting but it was as an administrative assistant at the Family Guy production office, is that right?

J Lee: Yeah. I was the receptionist at The Family Guy.

Mitch Matthews: Wow.

J Lee: What happened was, I moved out. About 30 days later I was … Actually I got to LA and I got a job, I was working at the mall at Guess. But I was staying way out in Riverside where my sister on my father’s side, she has a place but it’s like two hours away from LA.

Mitch Matthews: Yeah.

J Lee: I kind of was able to crash there when I first got here and I got a job out there, but I was basically driving into the city every day. I had no plan, by the way, I just was in LA like let me just be here. But I wasn’t making enough money to be commuting back and forth because I was only working part-time.

Mitch Matthews: Right.

J Lee: Long story short, a guy named Dave Neustadter, who is now an awesome friend and producer, he also went to IU, I did not know him there. There was another woman named Katie Prince who went to IU who now is an awesome exec. She actually was a receptionist, got promoted, told Dave, Dave said, “Oh, it’s crazy. There’s this kid that just moved out from IU, let me see if he needs a job.” He called me and he said, “Hey man, do you need a job? Do you want to work … There’s a show called The Family Man or something, do you want to work for it?” I was like, “Yeah sure, I guess.” I had never seen the show. I was like, “All right, yeah.” As long as it doesn’t get in the way with my 20 million dollar movie acting because it’s so easy.

Mitch Matthews: Right, exactly.

J Lee: But then I ended up going in, I got hired and it was the perfect sort of storm of timing. Family Guy had just got brought back. I worked at the front. I met everybody through that front desk, actors, producers, writers. It was sort of like my desk and I learned a lot being at the front desk.

Mitch Matthews: Yeah. I bet.

J Lee: If I can real quick, the thing about … I’ll go back to that moment back in St. Louis really asking like am I supposed to go or not? I didn’t say, “Let me go be famous.”

Mitch Matthews: Yeah.

J Lee: I didn’t ask, “Let me go make a bunch of money.” I remember specifically saying, “Let me go do it like it’s never been done. Let me go to shine. Let me go really be myself.” God was like, “All right, sit at the front desk in valet parking.” I’m like, “Wait, hold on. Maybe you didn’t hear me right. I’m supposed to be acting.” But what I learned at that time, I learned how to write, I learned how to produce, I started directing. Do you know what I mean? Those are the tools that I got from being at that front that I didn’t even know I was supposed to gain.

Mitch Matthews: Right. And you had to do it through humble means, right? It wasn’t like this glamorous thing, but at the same time you took it seriously, you brought excellence, you built relationships, you learned.

J Lee: Yeah.

Mitch Matthews: That’s a lot to be … That preaches, man.

J Lee: And you know also this idea of stepping stones. I don’t think you should ever look at a thing as a stepping stone. I think there are things that you learn as you go, but I’ve never looked at … Look, I’ve got two degrees, but I wasn’t ashamed to be at the front desk.

Mitch Matthews: Yep.

J Lee: I liked my job. I liked being the person you saw when you walked in. I liked being the person that greeted you. I remember one day I would do this thing where I just decided I was going to applaud everyone that got off the elevator and walked in. I just was like, I don’t care, I’m about to give everybody juice. Somebody would get off the elevator and as soon as they did I would just start clapping. They would walk into the office, I’m like, “Hey Tom, you’re going to have a great day today Tom. Hey, a hell of a day.”

J Lee: People would get off all sleepy like, “What’s going on?” But eventually, people gathered around the desk and started cheering for the next person. By the 15th, 20th person they were just getting this rolling standing ovation just for coming into work. But those are little things I just like to do. Do you know what I mean?

Mitch Matthews: Yeah. And you obviously made your mark. I mean, Seth MacFarlane paying attention to you, you’re building relationships with people, all of that. Did you have a sense … Obviously you hadn’t seen the show before working there, but did you get a sense pretty quickly how pivotal this role was going to be, this position and that season?

J Lee: No, not even a little bit. It took a couple of years.

Mitch Matthews: Yeah.

J Lee: It took a couple of years for me to realize it. I do remember the moment I decided to leave, and that was because I was starting to get comfortable. I had worked there for about two, two and a half years and I wasn’t making that much money a week.

Mitch Matthews: Sure.

J Lee: I finally saved enough, as you said. The commute was too bad so I was just sleeping in my car, so I did that for six months and was saving money.

Mitch Matthews: Wow.

J Lee: I got a gym membership so I’d wake up, go to the gym, shower, go to work. Get out of work, go play basketball, rinse, repeat, right?

Mitch Matthews: Yeah.

J Lee: I just remember one day I was like, man. Somehow I got my paycheck or I was depending on that paycheck. I just remember saying … Oh, that’s what it was. I wanted to leave to sort of pursue my own stuff and I remember the thought of, “Well you can’t leave because you need this money.” As soon as that thought creeped in, that’s when I knew I had to leave because I didn’t want to be dependent on that.

Mitch Matthews: Yeah.

J Lee: So I sort of just jumped out the window and prayed I would land on my feet, and I did.

Mitch Matthews: That’s incredible. And it’s also … You kept cultivating those relationships, one of which we mentioned Seth MacFarlane obviously, who is also pivotal and the creator of The Orville. There’s a lot of time in there.

J Lee: But you know … But check it out, you know what I’ve got to say to that? Seth is awesome. I think that dude’s a genius, he’s extremely talented and funny and amazing and we’ve built a very awesome friendship and then luckily we get to work together and he wrote this role for me.

Mitch Matthews: Yeah.

J Lee: But in addition to that, there are a hundred people, 200 people that work on that third floor that Seth sort of employed from animators to writers to PAs to assistants, the producers. They were just as pivotal and important to my growth as anyone. I tell people, treat everybody the same because you never know. I was the guy validating parking and there were some people who were just mean to me, dismissive. And most people saw, they were like, “No, this dude’s special.” But a few people were kind of jerks and I literally would see them in an audition for a movie I wrote, they’d have to come audition for me. You never know who is who so that’s why you have to treat everybody with respect.

Mitch Matthews: Yeah, which is the best way to live life anyway, right? But it is, it’s pivotal when we talk about our career and talk about living the life we want to live. That’s awesome.

J Lee: Sure.

Mitch Matthews: Yeah.

J Lee: I mean check it out, Mitch, real quick. Just even thinking about us connecting. You come on set, I could have been in a bad mood, pouting, running to my trailer. You could have been like, “Man, that guy J. Lee’s a jerk. He’s rude.” But if you just, “Hey, how are you doing, man? Nice to meet you.” Hug your family. “Have a good one.” I don’t know when you and I are going to be chopping it up on a podcast.

Mitch Matthews: Right.

J Lee: I just was like, “Hey, nice to meet you.” You never know.

Mitch Matthews: You don’t. You don’t know. And it is, it’s the best way to live anyway. Live curious, honor people. You just never know.

J Lee: Yep.

Mitch Matthews: You never know which of those relationships are going to blossom into something amazing or important in your life.

J Lee: Yep.

Mitch Matthews: That’s great. Man, I wish this could be four hours long but we’re going to time jump a little bit because I love the fact …

J Lee: Sure.

Mitch Matthews: I think a lot of people are familiar with the story of you getting that position, working your way up. I don’t know that everybody knows that you left, right? But keep those relationships going, kept cultivating those things but also continued to work on your own projects. But let’s fast forward to The Orville.

J Lee: Yeah.

Mitch Matthews: Were you a science fiction fan? Seth starts talking with you about this project. Are you a science fiction fan? Did you grow up on Star Trek, that kind of thing? Star Wars?

J Lee: No. I used to watch it … Yeah, but I was never a science fiction fan.

Mitch Matthews: Yeah.

J Lee: I say that specifically because there are people who care about that genre and love that genre and I don’t want to disrespect those fans who grew up, who know every Star Wars or Star Trek reference.

Mitch Matthews: Absolutely.

J Lee: I used to watch it here and there but I didn’t really … I was all over the place. I was doing music and being an athlete, I just didn’t have a lot of time for a lot of stuff. But now that I got on the show and understand the genre, it’s something that I totally am a fan of.

Mitch Matthews: Oh yeah, I would imagine. From what I understand with some of the other actors and performers that we’ve had on, the fans on the science fiction side of the house are some of the best and extreme. It sounds like you’ve got relationships 

J Lee: Oh yeah, our fans are awesome.

Mitch Matthews: I love it. Well yeah, I would imagine.

J Lee: I get fan art and messages. Yeah, I appreciate all the fans.

Mitch Matthews: I love it. I’ve got to say though too, I love that there are so many of the storylines where it’s hilarious, I mean the show really works in some great comedy, great relationships, but it really looks like you guys are having a blast. Obviously being on set helped to reinforce that, but it really looks like you guys are having a great time.

J Lee: Yeah. I mean look, I am. I’m having fun.

Mitch Matthews: Yeah.

J Lee: I get to work on the show with my friends and I’m on a spaceship.

Mitch Matthews: Right.

J Lee: I’m having fun.

Mitch Matthews: How cool is that? Exactly.

J Lee: Yeah, man.

Mitch Matthews: I love it. I would say one of the things we love to do, especially for DREAM THINK DOers, because a lot of our DREAM THINK DOers, as you and I talked before I hit record, a lot of them are thinking about getting started on dreams, some are in the midst of it, sometimes they’re in the messy middle, the hard parts.

J Lee: Yep.

Mitch Matthews: First off, I want to talk about how you stay focused, how you keep moving. I want to talk about that in a second, but first, off I want to celebrate a little bit though. They always say, “Oh, I’ve arrived.” This isn’t a journey. I know that it’s just a continual journey right?

J Lee: Sure. Yep.

Mitch Matthews: But at the same time, what are some of your favorite parts of the season of your career, kind of celebrating that.

J Lee: Oh, that’s a good one. You know what? I think it’s … If I had to pinpoint that because if it is a journey you never feel like you’ve actually arrived.

Mitch Matthews: Right.

J Lee: You always feel like you’re trying to get to the next thing or the next level. But I do look up sometimes and I look at the friends I have and I’ve had for so long who are just amazing people who have supported me and I’ve supported them through the ups and the downs. And I’m talking the broke years when I was eating ramen noodles and cereal and didn’t know how I was going to pay rent. Those same people who always supported and believed in me, it’s fun sometimes to reconnect with them and just have a moment and be like, “Man, look where we are.”

J Lee: And look at the things we’ve learned, not the things we’ve gained. Not the accolades, but look at all the stories we have now. You talk about when you have a scar, there are stories behind scars. I got this doing that, I got this doing that, and then you laugh about it or you can reminisce about it. I got a lot of scars getting here, literally and figuratively, but I appreciate every one.

Mitch Matthews: Right? Absolutely. Everyone is a reminder of the story behind it. I love it. Let’s talk about that though because I know you’ve worked hard to get where you’re at and I know you continue to work hard, right? You’re continuing to go after your own projects, and I want to talk about Wednesday’s here in just a sec, but what’s something that helps you continue to move forward, for you to continue to step out of your comfort zone, try new things, stay focused, keep working hard. What helps drive you?

J Lee: I’ll tell you, and it’s as simple as this. My piano teacher in high school, Sister Alice Eugene Tighe, was a godsend, literally. She was like my second mother. She was a nun at Sisters of Loretto. I would have two, three lessons a week. I spent a lot of time with her and I was really, really good. She knew that I knew that, and she was good with really guiding me. But she told me one thing back in the day and it was always, “Never rest on your laurels.”

J Lee: But what happened is, and I think this prepped me for my life now, I’d spend weeks, months, hours, hours, hours, learning a new piece, learning a new repertoire, prepping for a concert or a competition. Then you do the competition and it’s over. You win, you get your trophy, you get your money, your little check, whatever. And then you go back home and what do you do? You start over. You prep another song, you prep another concert, you prep for another competition.

J Lee: I think I just got in that group of literally never resting on my laurels. If I have an accomplishment or if I have a win, I go right back to the drawing board to create some more, create another one. You’re always moving, you’re always evolving, especially as an artist. Everything influences the next thing. That was something that was instilled in me 12 years old, 13.

Mitch Matthews: That’s awesome. That’s a great way to live no matter what career you’re in, but especially in the career that you’re walking out, the one that … It’s so true.

J Lee: Yeah.

Mitch Matthews: As I hear that, do you still get nervous?

J Lee: Oh yeah. Anybody that says they don’t get nervous is lying.

Mitch Matthews: That’s right.

J Lee: Oh yeah. Like, yeah you’re nervous, you know?

Mitch Matthews: I would imagine there’s got to be … Any position where a part of that position involves being judged by others. You go and audition for a role, you go and pitch your movie idea, all of that.

J Lee: Sure.

Mitch Matthews: Constantly you’re doing that.

J Lee: Yeah.

Mitch Matthews: How do you push through that fear? How do you push through those nerves?

J Lee: You’ve got to take it all … I always say keep it even. If you take the highs … If I walk out of my house and people come up to me, “Hey J. Lee you’re the best, most good-looking, most talented, most blah blah blah.”

Mitch Matthews: Yeah. 

J Lee: Yeah. “You’re the man. I’ve never met somebody as amazing as you.”

Mitch Matthews: Yeah.

J Lee: If I have to feed off that and I take that in, I have no choice but to take in the person who says, “You’re terrible. You’re a piece of crap. You’re stupid. You’re untalented.” What you do is you take both of those, you sort of say thank you for both of them, sort of toss both of them away and you live somewhere in the middle, in your truth.

Mitch Matthews: Yeah.

J Lee: You have your self-worth that no one can give you or take away from you. I don’t care how many people tell you you’re great or people tell you you aren’t great, none of that affects you, those are other people’s opinions. You’ve got to have your own confidence in your own life and then it’s easy to pick and choose what you even want to let into your sphere.

Mitch Matthews: That’s awesome, man. I heard somebody recently say, and that would define what you just said as working from love, not for love. Right?

J Lee: Oh yeah.

Mitch Matthews: Yeah, you’re just like walking that out and you’re who you are.

J Lee: Yep.

Mitch Matthews: Yeah. I love that, finding that middle ground.

J Lee: Yeah, regardless of the consequences.

Mitch Matthews: All right. We’re going to take a quick break and then we’re going to talk about Wednesdays because I want folks to hear about this project and I want to let them get on board with it. We’ll take a quick break, hear from our sponsor and we’ll be right back.

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Mitch Matthews: All right dude, I am loving this. I know we talked about it before I hit record but you’ve got to be writing a book man, there’s a lot of wisdom thrown around here so I love it. Let’s talk about Wednesdays though. From my understanding, it’s a little bit of your life or at least experience that you leaned on. But you wrote this thing, directed this thing, all of it.

J Lee: Yeah, you know. Wrote, directed and starred in it, paid for it. I scored some of it. Yeah, it was pretty much all hands on deck. But yeah, something I wrote when I was writing for TV shows, The Cleveland Show. We had insurance, great insurance, through The Writers Guild and one of those was for mental health. I know especially in the black community it’s something nobody really talks about it. I used to always think you had to go to a therapist because you had issues, but then you realize everybody’s got issues. Life is hard, man and you realize your parents, they just did the best they could and they got a lot wrong. Your friends, they … We’re just all bumping our heads trying to figure it out.

Mitch Matthews: Yeah.

J Lee: I just remember saying, “You know what, I want to go to therapy and just unpack some stuff.” I would go every Wednesday and I just remember I would always see this kid on the elevator who was really quiet and he’d be with his mom or his grandmother and I guess he had a session at the same time every Wednesday but in a different office or a different floor. But we would have this minute on the elevator or 30 seconds on the elevator and we’d just sort of head nod to each other. He was just really shy.

J Lee: I just remember one day he had on some new shoes and I said, “Hey man, nice shoes.” He just beamed up, he looked at me and smiled. That goes back to what you were saying about a move from love.

Mitch Matthews: Yeah.

J Lee: I just love greeting people with a smile. I get to my therapist’s office and she says, “Wow, you’re in a really good mood today.” Because I was just going through it.

Mitch Matthews: Yeah.

J Lee: And I said, “Oh yeah. I just have seen my little homie on the elevator.” She goes, “What?” I said, “Oh yeah. No, every Wednesday this little white kid is my best friend.” That was the sort of seed of the movie and then I went home and I wrote it.

Mitch Matthews: That is awesome. But then you had to fight for this thing. As you said, you put money in, you had to go find the money. But it’s a labor of love, to say the least.

J Lee: Oh yeah. Oh, I wrote it and I sent it to people they liked it and everybody wanted to meet. By the way, if you want to get in this business you’ve just met and everybody’s meeting about meetings and you set up a meeting to discuss a meeting and meet, meet, meet, right? I’m like, “Where the money at? I’ve got to make this movie. I’m broke, who’s going to help me make this movie?”

Mitch Matthews: I love talking with you people but I need some money.

J Lee: Yeah, come on. Point me in the direction. I had meetings for years. I wrote the first draft of this movie seven years ago.

Mitch Matthews: Really?

J Lee: True story. Seven years ago, the first draft. And then in July or August of last year, I was like, “I’m putting myself in pre-production.” I looked at my bank account, I saw how much I could spend. I said, “I’m making a movie for this amount and I’m in pre-production now.” I started telling people, “I’m shooting in November.” They’d say, “Oh, what are you working on?” “I’m shooting in November.” “You got the money?” “Sure. I’m shooting in November.” “Do you have a cast yet?” “I’m in pre-production.”

Mitch Matthews: That’s right.

J Lee: Everything was moving in that direction and then we got it done.

Mitch Matthews: Incredible. And where are you at in at this point?

J Lee: The movie is done. It’s wrapped. I edited it. I got the music done. I’ve got a couple of meetings literally next week with sales agents and distributors and I’m hoping they see it and enjoy it and say, “Hey, here’s a billion dollars. We want your movie.”

Mitch Matthews: Right? Ta-da. Yeah, exactly. Billion with a B please, thank you very much.

J Lee: With a B.

Mitch Matthews: With a B.

J Lee: I’ll have two of those, thank you very much.

Mitch Matthews: That’s it.

J Lee: Capital B.

Mitch Matthews: Two scoops of that.

J Lee: Nah, we’ll see.

Mitch Matthews: That’s awesome.

J Lee: Exactly. Yeah.

Mitch Matthews: You probably, I would imagine that’s a whole part of the journey too though, right? Finding that right partner and making that happen. But no that the DREAM THINK DO family will be all about it man, so when it happens we’ll be all about spreading the word. That’s fantastic, man.

J Lee: Right on.

Mitch Matthews: I love it. All right, so we could go … Seriously, I could go for another two hours here but I want to respect your time and I know you’ve got to get back to it. But I always love to wrap these things up with what we call a Wisdom of the Week and it’s the whole idea of what’s some pearl, whether it’s a quote, a thought, something somebody said to you, that helps you keep going, that helps you continue to go after that dream?

J Lee: Listen, you said the two hashtags I use all the time. There’s a third one that I use that is in the title of your podcast and I always hashtag think it, do it.

Mitch Matthews: Yeah.

J Lee: It’s real simple. You’ve got to do the work. Whatever that is you have to do the work. Whether that’s making that phone call, writing that script, being courageous enough to ask for that raise, asking for that … Whatever it is, ask that person out. Do that work. Do better in life, right? Because as humans I think we’ve got to do a much better job of taking care of one another. We’re in a really weird space right now and I think we’ve got to really do better and it starts with yourself.

J Lee: But the think it does it part is a simple as that. If you have a dream, you’ve got something you want to do, you think and then you do it. How do you do it? You do the work. You do better and you rinse and repeat. I wish I could give you some Shakespeare quote that sounds all lovey-dovey, but do the work.

Mitch Matthews: I’ll tell you what, all these words resonate with this family I can tell you, so that is perfect. Especially because you’re always living it, man and that’s a beautiful thing.

J Lee: Yeah.

Mitch Matthews: J. Lee, thanks so much for taking the time. What’s the best way for people to get connected with you?

J Lee: You can follow me on all my social media handles. Twitter, Instagram is jleefilm, it’s just the letter J, L-E-E film, F-I-L-M, jleefilm. That’s all my stuff. I try to post the stuff I’m working on. I also try to post positive things that either make me laugh or make me motivated and support other people. There’s a lot of other artists and people out here chasing their dreams, whatever that is, starting their own businesses. Support people, so they can support you as well.

Mitch Matthews: I love it. All right gang, check it out. Follow him and you won’t regret it. I love it. J. Lee, thanks for taking the time. Thanks for doing what you do, my man.

J Lee: For sure, man. Thank you so much. I appreciate you having me on and tell your family I said hello.

Mitch Matthews: I will. All right guys. What did you think? I loved it. I love J’s story, love his heart. I love that combination. You can tell there’s a whole lot of boldness and confidence there but a whole lot of humility too and that is serving him well. Plus, what did you think of that prayer? I loved that. Not a prayer for fame, not a prayer for money, but let me go and do it like it’s never been done before. I love that kind of bold prayer.

What stood out to you?  Leave a comment and let me know.  I’d love to hear from YOU!


And hey… please share this episode too!  I think more people need to hear inspiring stories like J’s.

1 Comment
  • Bridge Dale
    Posted at 05:43h, 29 September Reply

    Yeah, there is so much potential in their work that I am sure that they would be able to make it a successful venture soon. I just hope that they continue working with the same passion.

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