Alison Li is an amazing up and coming multimedia producer who is taking the film-making scene by storm. Her work includes Safe Guarded, described as a “fiction narrative psychological thriller feature,” story by and produced by Li and written by Dashel Finley, and Camelthorns a collaborative piece with Doug Liman, whose film credits include Mr. and Mrs. Smith and The Bourne Identity. She is now working on a series of documentary-like pieces that are catching the attention of many in and outside the industry.
I met Alison Li at a birthday party for Kevin Powell, the political activist and writer who speaks out against violence against women and girls. Even though it was my first time meeting Li, she came out of Dame Dash’s studio and into the rain to make sure I got into Powell’s celebration. I knew we’d get along well. She greeted me like I was an old friend and that set the mood for the entire night. We walked through the studio surrounded by success, both of us almost too shy to meet anyone. Once her publicist, Angela Mack, showed up, Li put on her networking hat. I stood back and watched as she held captivating conversations with writers and politicians alike. Before we had a chance to sit down and talk, I was pulled into a cab.
“This is a real woman around town,” her publicist told me as I slammed the door closed. In the front seat of the cab sat Johnny Nunez, the celebrity photographer, particularly for those in the Hip Hop community, and founder of Nubuzzphoto. “So where we’re going is Donna Karan’s loft; it’s beautiful,” Nunez said as he described the many different events he had attended there.
He was right; the huge space was gorgeous. It was filled with the influential people of the film and fashion industry. Donna Karan stood on stage in front of a projector screen, expressing her excitement about the an offering of the Tribeca Film Festival, The Other City, a documentary focusing on depressed areas of Washington D.C., blocks from the White House. Immediately, Alison Li dived into the crowd, energized by what she loves most—creating change through film.
“I’m a multi-media producer,” she said to me in the middle of the interview. She produces media that takes a look into the real lives of real people without crossing the line into reality television.
Her real life is not always as star-studded as it was Monday night. The regular people are those who make her life in New York so rewarding. When asked how living in New York has influenced her work, she said, “The connections are so short here. I can literally step out of my house, stop the first person I see and ask them about anything and they would know which way to direct me. Everyone here is so willing to help; they don’t burst your bubble.” She went on to talk about how talented and motivated New Yorkers are.
“I idolize people who really go for what they want, keep their eye on the target and find the best way to get there,” she said. “People who make a career happen for them, and are able to manipulate their journey to what benefits themselves and those around them (and of course without physically hurting others).”
Li, who was born and raised in Wrexham, Wales, knew that New York was the place to be in order to grow as an artist. Her hometown’s lackadaisical nature didn’t rub off on her and she didn’t intend on allowing it to. She explored every form of art and when she decided that she “loved being the glue between elements” and working in a team, film became her art of choice. So she packed her things, left behind her entire family and migrated to the U.S. much like her parents did when they left Hong Kong to move to the U.K. Movement toward a greater life is a part of her family’s history, which is probably why they support her as long as she’s happy.
And boy, does she seem happy. She wore a welcoming smile the entire night.
“My favorite thing to do in New York is socializing…being within a human group experience…great, cheap massages…and eating.” She said the latter as if she was divulging a secret. Her small frame does hide her love for food but as she discovered, the diverse cultures and foods are some of the greatest parts of this city.
Li’s an expert at discovering the truth and this is what she is doing with her latest documentary on Michelle Barry a.k.a Brittany Andrews.
Li attended New York Film Academy from 2008 to 2009, where she met Michelle Barry. When she arrived in the Big Apple, Barry became her family proxy. Her non-judgmental and open personality helped Li get through the lonely days and now Li’s time is spent filming a documentary about the former porn star. Although she doesn’t have a distributor yet, the documentary, that is to be ready in early 2011, is anticipated to be a magnificent look into the reality of Michelle Barry. It will reveal a metaphorically naked Michelle Barry, stripped of the fantasy of Brittany Andrews. The film, Inside Miss B.A., depicts Barry as not just an adult film star but also as Li says, “She’s a Super Star.”
Not far from being a star herself, Alison Li is determined to let her talents be known. She is of Chinese descent, born and raised in the U.K., but her heart is in New York City. “In the next ten years, I should be here! I hope to have made and successfully completed my own feature film. I call it a passion piece. I want to be financially independent and be able to influence others, whether young or old, through networking.”
She surrounds herself with influential people who have given her the chance to contribute to their pieces. These include: Samsung’s High Five commercial; Spalding Gray, a documentary by Steven Soderbergh; Virginity Hit, a feature movie by Huck Botko & Andrew Gurland; Let’s Talk About Sex, a feature documentary by James Hudson.
Her new music documentary series The Line Up has just premiered, sure to become a successful addition to the likes of MTV and VH1. To stay on top of the incredible work of Alison Li, frequent her sites:
Woman Around Town’s Six Questions
Favorite Place to Dine: Peter Luger’s
Favorite Place to Shop: H&M
Favorite New York Sight: Long Island City piers
Favorite New York Moment: The moment I landed on the plane by myself at JFK and the fact that I had no one I knew at all in the whole USA-very adrenaline pumping and exciting.
What You Love About New York: The melting pot of different people/cultures/ethnics—it’s a state of no judgment.
What You Hate About New York: It’s so in a world of its own that has different rules and laws.