AWE Role Models: Doris Li

Article by Malgorzata Garstka

Role models is an ongoing series where a successful female role model is interviewed in order to inspire and motivate others who may wish to do the same.

Can you introduce yourself? Job title, education, languages, hobbies, your family etc.

Hi, my English name is Doris (李菁). I graduated from Xi’an International Studies University (XISU) with a degree in English. I am a partner in a movie company and work for the last two years in the film industry. We recently finished “Crested Ibis Bird”, the movie about the national symbol of Japan that is being used in the diplomacy between China and Japan. We are currently working on the promotion of this movie. I speak Chinese and English and love aromatherapy, yoga, and massage.

Are you from Xi’an? If not, what motivated you to come here?

I come from Hanzhong, located in the south of Shaanxi province. I wanted to work in the movie industry and saw Xi’an as a bigger city and a subsequent stop on the way to Beijing or Shanghai. I have chosen Xi’an and XISU to learn something helpful for my dream career and meaningful for my vision. Moreover, I wanted to move away from my parents (laughing).

What do you do every day? What is your regular schedule? What is not “normal” work for you?

I wake up between 7, and 8 am and start my day with 20-60 minute exercise to get energized. Next, I will check my calendar for the tasks to be completed this day and week and work on them in order of importance. After lunch, I watch a movie to see whether it has potential, and we should support it, summarize it in the report and share it with my team. Later, I think about future development based on the current business model. I ask myself what other opportunities I can find based on my personal strengths and how I can create the values others cannot. Sometimes, I work till 11:00 pm.

My team and I are currently preparing a new movie about the first radio station in China. The script of this movie is almost ready and now in the stage of funding.

What are your most impressive accomplishments? What accomplishments might not impress an average person, but you are particularly proud of?
I would like to mention three:

  1. During my first business trip to Sri Lanka, I gave a short presentation in the president’s palace before the president and various officials.
  2. During my studies in the US, I delivered a speech in front of 1000 (maybe 1500) people. I introduced China and Chinese people to the American people. I felt very proud of being Chinese and very happy to share information about my country, its history and culture.
  3. I bought the apartment without the help of my parents or anyone else, entirely on my own. I realized that I can count on myself, and I am self-sufficient.

What are the biggest challenges you face in general and as a woman? What do you think these challenges exist?

Being an unmarried woman in China puts you under constant social pressure. Family, friends and society think that being unmarried, without kids and house is improper behavior. By getting married, having kids and a house, you repay your parents for taking care of you, reducing their social pressure. Moreover, there is a widespread belief that one can only be fully part of one’s own family.

What are your goals for this year? 5 years?

My life goal is to improve myself and positively influence the lives of others.

This year I would like to meet a soulmate to work on something that we both enjoy, someone to share happiness with.

In 5 years, I intend to make myself as a professional international cultural exchange advocator in film related industry, have a successful career in the film industry and few foreign films introduced in China as well as few Chinese movies shown abroad. I would like to have two kids and take my parents to travel overseas. No success from business can compensate for the loss from the family. Family comes first.

What did motivate you to choose the career that you have today?

I wanted to be an actress when I was in middle and high school. I took every opportunity for public speaking and performance. I enjoy the stage. I realized that film is a world language that links people’s mind, and this is something I can do.

What are the most important character traits you think someone who wants to pursue such a career should possess?

The person who wants to work in the film industry should be open-minded, curious, and eager to learn. One needs to know a lot about different countries and their cultures to look beyond the popular culture and capture the beauty and artistic mastery of movies from other world regions. Moreover, one needs to show respect to the business partners and be persistent. Keep going, follow your dream, not the company.

What advice do you have for other women, Chinese or foreign, who are looking to further their careers?

I have three pieces of advice:

  1. Plan your career early. Look for mentors at the different life and career stages. Anyone can be your mentor, your big brother, coworker, or boss. They can advise you on what to do and what not to do.
  2. Understand who you are and what you want to bring to this world. Then follow your dream, and keep self-improving. Try to love what you do, and then you will do what you love.
  3. Improve self-value from all aspects. (e.g. Try new things.) You can learn from every job and every experience.

Malgorzata is a tenure track professor at the 2nd Affiliated Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong University who leads a research team to discover and develop new methods to test and treat diabetes. She loves learning, biking, and meeting new people.