Born in Saigon, Tammy began an unusually dramatic life as a Boat person, fleeing Vietnam with her mother when she was less than 3 months old. After spending almost a year and a half in a refugee camp in Hong Kong, they were sponsored to the United States by a Baptist church in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Reunited with family, Tammy grew up in a typical American suburb of Dallas, Texas as a precocious oldest child, attending various schools for the gifted and talented. She honed her academic, creative, and leadership skills in Garland High School’s rigorous International Baccalaureate Program, with intensive training in theatre, piano and violin. Tammy’s passion for the arts naturally led her to directing and acting, and her discipline landed her a scholarship into New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Choosing to be close to family, Tammy was an honors graduate of Southern Methodist University’s esteemed Meadows School of the Arts. An active student leader on campus, Tammy was recognized with numerous campus awards for her innovation and service, as well as academics. Her student short films, Lunar Cycles and First Slow Burn (starring actress Amy Acker) were screened in various film festivals across the country.
On a whim, she competed in the Miss Asian American Texas Pageant… and won. Tammy reigned from 1999-2001, and she continues to be an advocate for Asian American issues, philanthropy in community, and education. She has had a successful career as a professional actor, model and spokesperson, appearing in films, television, and numerous commercials, industrials, and print campaigns. Clients include Volkwagen, Wells Fargo, TGI Friday’s, Toyota, Coca-Cola, Radio Shack, Doritos, Chili’s, Mountain Dew, and many more.
Tammy is also a graduate of the UCLA Producers Program, where she received her MFA. Her story pitches for “Siamese” and “Fortune’s Fool” beat out two dozen other stories and made her a finalist in the Producers Guild sponsored Marketplace competition two years in a row. Before graduating, she was honored with a coveted Mickey Dude Fellowship for her work in Asian American projects and co- produced Yellow, a satirical comedy directed by X. Dean Lim about the trials and tribulations of being Asian American in Hollywood. She has worked in Hollywood studios and production companies like Revolution Studios and The Mine.
Tammy married George Whan Lee in September 2004. George is a U.S. born Korean American who graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he went on to become a Ranger qualified US Army captain, model, mechanical engineer and now Director for a pharmaceutical distribution company. The couple met on a print shoot, where they were prophetically cast as husband and wife.
In 2005, she returned to her hometown and founded Against The Grain Productions, dedicated to Asian American in the arts. The organization raises funds for orphanages in Vietnam, creates outreach programs, hosts fundraising events and gives scholarships. Under this banner, she produced/directed her first feature documentary, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, about one of the most humanitarian efforts of our time. The film premiered at the 2009 Vietnamese International Film Festival and won the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film and the 2009 Philadelphia Asian Film Festival Documentary Feature Audience Choice Award. As a producer, she worked at one of the largest productions companies in the southwest, where she developed and sold numerous non-fiction tv reality programs to major cable networks such as WEtv, TruTV, HGTV and HISTORY. She served on the Women in Film.Dallas Board of Directors as Membership and Programs Co-Chair. In addition to serving as President/Founder of ATG, she also serves on the Board of Advisors of the SMU Hegi Family Career Development Center and SMU Meadows Alumni Advisory Council. In 2010, she was honored with the SMU Distinguished Alumni Emerging Leader Award, given to an alumuae/alumnus who has graduated within the past 15 years and brought distinction to the University. In 2012, the DFW Chapter of National Association of Asian American Professionals named her as one of their Leaders of Excellence. In 2015, the National Association of Asian American Professionals honored her with a NAAAP 100 Award. That same year, she was awarded a grant from the Dallas Women’s Foundation & Orchid Giving Circle to begin production on her latest documentary, Light of Day, a compelling and important project that will reveal untold stories of domestic violence in the Asian community.
Tammy currently lives in Dallas with her husband and three children – Gabriella, Austen, and their newborn son, Tennyson – where she continues to live life Against The Grain.