Friday, February 10, 2012

Cutting Room Floor Commentary: Lucy Liu Sounds Off on Her Stuyvesant Education...

Back in the day when I had big production dreams, one of the projects I wanted to work on was an expose of the education one receives at Stuyvesant High School. For those of you who don't know (and if you live outside of the tri-state area, why would you know?), Stuyvesant is a math and science magnet high school in lower Manhattan. Eighth graders from every borough, and some in Long Island and Jersey, take an entrance exam to see if they "qualify" as smart enough to attend the prestigious in name public school. But once you get in, as I did, it is really just like any other public school. Your teachers may not actually hold degrees in the subjects into which they are thrown, the school board just needing to fill a hole in the staff with whoever's available, the classrooms are overcrowded (my graduating class had about 750 kids), and though you're sold on getting into any college you want by name-dropping, most non-Ivy schools in the south, mid-west, or west coast can't even pronounce the name properly. Ultimately, it's like any other school: you learn what you're willing to learn. I didn't love my time there, and I had heard a fellow graduate making her mark here in Hollywood-- Lucy Liu-- felt the same. She was, therefore, my number one pick to narrate this documentary I someday planned to produce. She and I shared some of the same teachers, and since I came after her and already knew I planned to move out to L.A. to work in the entertainment industry, they would always talk fondly of her. yet, I had never heard her talk about her experience there at all.

Recently I had a chance to sit down with Liu on location for the TNT series on which she is a special guest star this season, Southland, and after we talked all about the show, I had to bring up our shared alma mater and hear her take on her time there. Though a part of this interview will be posted as part of "Now and Then" gallery over at, I just had to share the full video exchange, as Liu opened up about not knowing who she was or what she wanted when she was in Stuy and how the school ended up helping her shape the life she has now. Her words of wisdom about winning and failure are especially poignant pieces of advice, no matter what industry you find yourself in today.

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