Robinne Lee (@robinnelee) is a Los Angeles-based actor, author, and producer. A graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School, Robinne was born and raised in Westchester County, New York. She is the daughter of Jamaican parents of African, Chinese, British and Arawak Indian lineage, Lee has a long kinship for travel and the arts. In the past she worked as an Editorial Assistant for ELLE Magazine, both in New York and Paris, writing celebrity columns for the publication, and running a music management company.
Lee has numerous acting credits in both Will Smith in both Hitch and Seven Pounds, Don Cheadle in Hotel for Dogs, and Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on 30. She has recently been featured as the character of Ros Bailey in the film “Fifty Shades Darker” released earlier this year.
She is currently an inactive member of the New York Bar, Lee has served as a producer on various independent films and regularly speaks on panels regarding the roles of women and actors of color in the industry. In addition, she has recently released her first novel entitled “The Idea of You”.
What inspired you to Write Your First Novel “The Idea of You”?
I was up late one-night surfing music videos on YouTube. My husband was away on business and the kids had gone to sleep and I came across a video of a song I’d never heard, by a group I’d never paid attention to, and not thirty seconds into it, there was a shot of one of the band members who was so beautiful it took me by surprise. It almost did not matter that he looked to be about half my age. Almost. I’m a little obsessive, so I spent the next hour or so watching clips and interviews trying to determine who he was, and I soon discovered that he occasionally dated older women. And so the seed was planted. Two days later, when my husband returned I told him about the guy and said, “Could you imagine if I left you and our two kids and ran off with a twenty-year-old in a boy band?” And we both laughed about it. But then he said, “You know what? That would make a great book.”
Did you decide to self-publish or partner with a publishing company?
St. Martin’s Press is publishing my novel. Which is great, because I have long been a fan of their books. I never truly considered self-publishing this story because I knew it had a great hook and would likely sell easily.
Can you describe your experience of playing your character “Ros Bailey” from Fifty Shades Darker?
I really didn’t know what to expect joining such a well-known franchise in their second film, but the cast and crew and the Fifty Shades fandom could not have been more welcoming. There was very little written about Ros Bailey in the books and the script. All I knew is that she was smart, she had this high-powered job, and she was in a relationship with another woman. So I took it upon myself to create a very specific backstory: who her parents were, where she grew up, where she went to school, when she realized she was gay, how she came out to her family, how she ended up in Seattle working for Christian Grey – all of it. And it was really freeing and fulfilling to be able to build a person from a few brief lines in a character breakdown.
You are a graduate of Yale University, and Columbia Law School if you were not acting what type of law would you be practicing?
I have always been drawn to the arts, so it’s likely I’d be doing something in entertainment or art law. I spent the summer during my second and third year of law school at one of the most prestigious New York firms doing corporate law and while it was a thrilling experience, I realized that to do that for an extended period of time would have crushed my soul. I need to be creating art and telling stories, it’s just who I am.
Out of all the roles, you have played to date which one has been your favorite and why?
Avery Daniels, on Being Mary Jane. She was so complex and layered and undergoing a huge transition and juggling so many roles while trying to maintain her poise and grace and sanity. And her hold on her husband and family while it was all falling apart. It’s the kind of role actors dream of. Absolutely terrifying to take on, but hugely rewarding when you dive in and are able to do it justice. Avery was truly a gift.
When was the last time you participated in ballet?
This morning. I attend classes twice a week, without fail. It’s one of my favorite things to do for myself.
Do you plan on producing some of your own projects in 2017?
I’ve got my plate full this year with writing, promoting this novel and an upcoming indie film, so I currently have no producing plans, but never say never… If the right project comes across my desk, I’ll do my best to make it happen.
you are an avid runner who is a part of your workout playlist right now?
I don’t listen to music when I run. I do my best writing in my head during that time, so I like to keep my mind clear. But these last couple of weeks I’ve been listening to Ed Sheeran’s new album and the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack on repeat. And I have tween kids, so a lot of Drake…
Is there any community events that you will be able involved with this year?
I’m on the host committee of City Year Los Angeles’ Spring Break Event. I am so impressed with the work that City Year does! It’s a national service organization, which unites young adults from diverse racial backgrounds for a year of full-time community service, leadership development, and civic engagement. The members work one-on-one with students in schools with high dropout rates. It’s part of AmericaCorps, and most of these members are taking a gap year and giving back in this huge way. I don’t think there’s anything more important than investing in our kids and helping to make sure they get a fair shot at a great education. And seeing young adults realize that, and willingly volunteer their time and energy is incredibly inspiring!