Deborah Lee Fong Surging Despite the Pandemic

Culture, Events, Film

Deborah Lee Fong’s prolificness and high-energy is something we should all aspire to in these uncertain times. After all, for a veteran, bilingual Panamanian-American actress, things probably haven’t always come easily. But Fong has built herself up through the years as an acclaimed theater performer, having participated in numerous productions nationwide as well as having starred in two noteworthy PBS projects, and capturing a standout role in the feature film You and Your Decisions.

Fong has the unique distinction of someone who both has a lengthy track record of quality work, while simultaneous branching into working behind the camera as well. A recent trend for underrepresented and minority actors and actresses working in and outside of Hollywood is funding and producing their own projects, often acting as vehicles and catalysts for their visibility. It makes for a slew of intensely personal pictures, often possessing narratives, protagonists, and creative aesthetical choices the standard filmmaking mores eschew or are too risk-averse to take a chance on. Performers like Fong are finally getting their opportunity to shine across a wide margin because of this trend. It redefines the popularity label, and challenges what it means for someone to be able to headline a major motion picture.

Fong’s work ethic matches the quality of her material. Despite the slowing down of things since Covid-19 first surfaced in early 2020, the actress has been on a tear. Auditioning for as many projects as she can, and continuing to expand and explore her craft. Whether it’s continuing to increase her decorated and storied career, to continuing to focus on her hobbies including Salsa dancing and even, yes, pole dancing. She’s someone needless to say for whom the word ‘productivity’ is synonymous.


The kind of energy displayed in Fong’s work is infectious. It probes the heart and penetrates the mind, making you feel strung along an intensely visceral journey even in the more microcosmical moments of the stories she tells. That’s the sign of a truly great performer, someone whose ability to make the story compelling lies as much in their ability to communicate their angle as it is their ability to exist within it. Such traits bring to mind the philosophy of playwright David Mamet, where truly great acting is just about communication. Often today, performers of various sorts seem to have confused the real-world ramifications of an audience with what the traditionalists say acting is supposed to be. It’s your job to communicate first and foremost, in the minds of those like Mamet, that is all…

When it comes to the aforementioned technique, Fong is in a class of one. Whether it’s her work on television, on the stage, or in the filmmaking platform, she’s able to retain an intense focus and sharp delivery. It’s an effective combination no doubt that has made her able to endure, time and again, despite the setbacks slowly being unraveled in Hollywood’s veiled, sexist and racist templates…

Claire Uebelacker

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