Thursday, November 26, 2015         


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The world may be her oyster, but she manages to be nice

By Michael Tsai


There's a word -- several, actually -- for people who seem to have it all. We just don't use that language in family newspapers.

Yet nature seeks balance in all things -- light and darkness, sound and silence, refinement and New York Jets coach Rex Ryan. So is it unreasonable to expect a few rain-filled potholes, maybe a flattened mongoose, somewhere along the gilded path? Apparently.

Meet Kaimuki resident Laurie Lee, 49, she of the happy childhood, the well of creative talent, the fulfilling career, the happy marriage and the charming, intelligent children.

Laurie Lee accepts little credit for the enviable life she's led (humility: another annoying trait of the unassailably nice), but she does allow for good genes.

Her mother was a Juilliard-trained mezzo-soprano who directed the 'Iolani School choir. Her father was a business administrator with his own impressive musical abilities.

"They were constant and consummate entertainers," Lee says. "They were a two-person show. In our house there was always lots of laughter and singing and a lot of mah-jongg!"

Bookended in age between two soon-to-be famous sisters -- model-producer-filmmaker Edgy and film executive Bonni -- Lee played piano and sang with Punahou's select choir while also distinguishing herself as a varsity volleyball player.

After college she joined her sisters in Hollywood, quickly parlaying an entry-level job as an executive assistant into more advanced work as a story editor and later a writer's assistant for the TV series "Who's the Boss?"

But Lee had more to offer, and it wasn't long before she established herself as a formidable freelance TV writer, penning scripts for hits like "Married with Children" and the short-lived but critically acclaimed "Roc."

By 2002, Lee's priorities had changed, and she and her then-husband moved back to Hawaii so she could give their two young children a chance at the same happy childhood she enjoyed. The marriage didn't last, but, as usual, things had a way of working out. Lee enrolled her daughter Anuhea at Waldorf School, where Anuhea happened to make friends with a girl named Daisy, who happened to have an eligible father, who happened to have much in common with Lee.

And so Anuhea and Daisy eventually became stepsisters. And Lee, a school volunteer, found a permanent position as its director of community relations.

Lee said she would love to collaborate one day on a TV project with her two sisters. For now, however, she enjoys staying active and watching Anuhea and son Kawena grow.

"It's important to me that my children grow to be good people and carry that further as compassionate human beings," she says. "I do my best to model that for my kids. If I didn't, I'd be full of it."

So much for the potholes.


Reach Michael Tsai at

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