APR 3, 2017

Jason Y. Lee is Changing the World, One Video at a Time at Jubilee Project

privy profile   |   By Bonnie He

Occupation: Philanthropist, Entrepreneur, Filmmaker

Based in: Los Angeles

Last Education: The University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

Jason Y. Lee could have had a lucrative career in finance. He started as a summer intern for the U.S. Department of Treasury while attending the University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School, and after graduation, he worked as a financial consultant at Bain & Company.

Instead, he chose the road less traveled: helping others in need. When the 2010 Haitian earthquake devastated an estimated 3 million people, Lee wanted to contribute to the relief effort.

In a self-effacing video, Lee set out to busk in a New York City subway (he says he’s a very, very bad singer) in order to raise $100 for Save the Children. At the end of the day, he raised a total of $85.01 and €2. Not giving up, Lee asked in his YouTube video for viewers to contribute the remaining money to the the fund he set up.

Not only did he reach his goal within the first 10 minutes of posting, he set a stretch goal of $500, which was ultimately surpassed to reach $761! Thus, the Jubilee Project was born.

The Jubilee Project consists of Jason, his brother Eddie Lee and their friend Eric Lu. Combining philanthropy and filmmaking, the trio - a humanitarian Wong Fu of sorts - leverages social media to inspires others to do good through their YouTube channel. In fact, their hashtag is #DoingGoodisContagious.

Since its inception in 2010, the Jubilee Project has raised tens of thousands of dollars for humanitarian causes and charities and garnered about 50 million views. They've worked with other Privy members such as Jeremy Lin and Mei Melançon, and continue to contribute to the greater good.




You started off in the financial sector, working for corporations like Bain & Company. What made you launch into humanitarianism full-time?


It was completely unexpected. I studied Finance and Management at University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School and I thought I'd spend my entire career in the business. I really enjoyed working for Bain, but during my time there, I felt empty. I realized that I wanted to live for something greater than myself. I started to find fulfillment and purpose as I shared stories, served others and inspired young people. Around that time I heard a quote from Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse who shared about her patients biggest regrets as they neared the end of their lives. The most common regret she heard was, "I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself and not one that others expected of me." I realized at that point that I wanted to live a life of courage and purpose. That's when I quit my job to pursue Jubilee Project full-time.

Jubilee Project is a production company that tells stories for a good cause. Our vision is to inspire the next generation of changemakers.




How does the Jubilee Project pick which organizations to contribute to?


It's a very organic process, but generally we work with issues pertaining to social justice, global health, education, and youth empowerment. Probably because these are the issues that are closest to our heart. We only work with issues and organizations that we believe in as well.




What causes affect you personally?


Education is an important issue to me. Both of my parents are professors and they taught me that regardless of your circumstances, a good education is critical to success. I believe that we need to give every child an equal opportunity for success and that begins with education.

Recently, human trafficking is an issue that I've grown to learn about and become passionate about. The idea that 27 million people are modern day slaves today is baffling. How can we let such a terrible injustice continue?




Tell us about your latest undertaking, “Save My Seoul.” 


Save My Seoul is a documentary on prostitution and sex-trafficking in Korea. South Korea is now a global force, yet prostitution is an open secret in Korea that pervades the entire culture but everyone turns a blind eye to. Today there are hundreds of thousands of girls who are victims of sex trafficking in Korea.

This is our first feature-length documentary for Jubilee Project. We hope this film can help spark a dialogue and paradigm shift about this issue worldwide. We are currently in post-production.




The Jubilee Conference 2015 featured guest speakers Jeremy Lin, Wong Fu and Jenny Yang. What do you think drives the Asian American community toward philanthropy and humanitarian causes?


It was an honor to have our close friends share and help in the work we're doing. I think it's powerful when you hear successful people share about their challenges and how they persevered.

I think Asian Americans deeply value community. It's part of our culture and our story as children of immigrants. Therefore, I think we understand that all people need to love, help and support each other when we can.



What else do you want our Privy readers to know about you?


My faith is very important to me. I believe that we are all called to live for something greater than ourselves; for me that means living out my faith and walking with love.




What do you like about Privy and the promise it offers?


I think it's meaningful to have a network of influencers in the Asian American community.




Onto the Fun Stuff!


My last meal on Earth would be:

I love all types of seafood. So probably boiling crab with tons of shrimp, crab legs and lobsters!

Home away from home:

Since its inception in 2010, the Jubilee Project has raised tens of thousands of dollars for humanitarian causes and charities and garnered almost 50 million views. Kansas will always have my heart. But I've adopted LA as my home away from home.

Dream vacation:

Backpacking from Greece to Egypt.

Essential wardrobe item:

My favorite flannel shirt. Although, if my mother had her way, I'd never wear it again.

Essential gadget:

Kindle. I've always loved books and hated giving up paperbacks, but it's amazing to be able to carry thousands of books in one device.

Last great book I read:

"The Alchemist" - I read it every year.

Photo Credits: Jason Y. Lee, Jubilee Project, Melly Lee



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