Tia Lee is no stranger to the limelight. The actress and C-pop icon has long held an established presence in the entertainment industry and a dedicated fanbase that has only grown with time—evidenced by over four million followers on Instagram. Lee’s illustrious creative journey came to a pause in 2019, when she decided to temporarily step away from the stage after releasing her single ‘Believe In You’.
Rather than taking a hiatus from creative work, Lee viewed the three-year period as an interlude of reflection, exploration and growth. “It was a time of serious preparation and lots of hard work,” Lee shares. “I worked with international companies, experienced new environments and met new people across the world. I kept a really busy schedule to enrich skills such as dancing, to become a more professionally-trained, well-rounded performer.”
The fruits of her labour reveal themselves in the momentous comeback Lee has recently launched—the actress’s first-ever animated series. With animation and complementing fashion videography helmed by an award-winning animation team in Hong Kong as well as creative director Tony C. Miller and producer Kate Wynborne, the series spans six episodes, each one starring Lee in a different, fantastical form.
Racking up a cumulative 100 million views in the mere month since their release (an unprecedented success for any C-pop artist’s comeback), the videos feature a rich blend of fashion and story-telling, leading up to the release of her first single in three years: ‘Goodbye Princess’. The reason behind the title is simple—Lee wants to break free from the confines of her ‘princess’ image and empower the women around her to do the same.
“Negative stereotypes continue to stand between women and their dreams—especially when it comes to Asian women. With ‘Goodbye Princess’, I am trying to express that women should have the freedom to set their own priorities and choose their own direction in life,” Lee muses. “I want to share my personal experience and let people know that traditional and negative stereotypes still exist, and they are not conducive to the pursuit of happiness for women in general.”
To strengthen her commitment to the worthy cause, Lee is also launching a special campaign to raise awareness and support for numerous female empowerment and gender equality charities around the world. Known as #EmpowerHer, the project pledges monetary donations to charities close to Lee’s heart, pegged to the view count on the ‘Goodbye Princess’ music video. With each view contributing to the amount dedicated to the campaign, Lee is harnessing the support of her fans to give back to the causes she believes in most.
“#EmpowerHer will benefit as many global female-centric charitable causes as possible—including charities across Asia, the Middle East, the United Kingdom, the United States and more. These organisations are uniquely inspiring, helping to build better futures for women around the world. I hope my voice can help to amplify that.”
“I am deeply thankful to all my fans and supporters for their patience and constant faith in me,” Lee shares earnestly. “I want to let my fans know that I have not gone missing for the past three years. I was carving the path that I want for my future. I hope ‘Goodbye Princess’ can inspire everyone to have the courage to do the same.”
“Female empowerment means women should have the freedom to set their own priorities and choose their own direction in life”
Lee’s message is resonating far and wide, earning her covers on publications like Vogue Hong Kong and cementing her position as a star entertainer with a penchant for fashion. Describing her personal style as “timeless and classic”, Lee no doubt has much more in store—whether it be sartorially or creatively.
Here, the musician and fashion icon opens up about her creative metamorphosis in the last three years, why female empowerment means so much to her, and what fans can expect from ‘Goodbye Princess’.
What were your earliest experiences in the entertainment world?
I started my career as a cover model. I got my acting break when I was around 23 years old and I took on the project without much hesitation even though I had no formal training in acting. There is a first time for everything! Looking back, I am glad I took the step out of my comfort zone. My time in a girl band was similar—I took the chance simply because I loved to sing and perform. These are valuable experiences that I will treasure for a long time to come.
What was your three-year hiatus like? What did you focus on during this time?
It was not a hiatus as much as it was period of serious preparation and lots of hard work. I worked with new international companies, experienced new environments and met new people across the world. I also kept a really busy schedule to enrich skills such as dancing, to become a more professionally-trained well-rounded performer. I hope my fans will enjoy the results of this in the pre-release campaign and launch of the “Goodbye Princess” music video, as well as future creative work that I will release.
The theme of your comeback is tied to female empowerment. Why do you feel strongly about this cause?
Let me tell you a little story. I have a female friend who is middle management in her workplace. She has been working there for over a decade. When she announced her wedding and shared her plans to start a family, her male superior let loose a casual comment: “How can you juggle both work and family?”
It is an entrenched negative stereotype that mothers do not have the capacity to focus on their work or career while having a family. Such negative stereotypes continue to stand between women and their dreams, especially when it comes to Asian women.
What does gender equality mean to you?
Gender equality as a cause should be non-controversial by its definition. I want to share my personal experience and let people know that traditional and negative stereotypes still exist, and they are not conducive to the pursuit of happiness for women in general. All I’m trying to say is that female empowerment means women should have the freedom to set their own priorities and choose their own direction in life.
What is one message you wish to convey to your fans with this comeback?
In the past three years, I have been all around the world to try new creative combinations with music and fashion. It is time to share my new sound and creations with my fans. It has been a long wait for them, but I want to let them know that I have not gone missing for the past three years. I continued to pursue my dreams and break free from negative traditional stereotypes, and I hope my music can inspire them to do the same.
Watch the ‘Goodbye Princess’ music video here.