Legendary SA casting director Moonyeenn Lee dies from Covid-19 complications

South African casting director Moonyeenn Lee. Picture: Gallo Images / The Times / Thys Dullaart

Renowned as one of the country’s leading agents, she represented some of SA’s best-known actors through her company.

South African agent and casting director Moonyeenn Lee has died due to complications caused by the coronavirus.

A statement by her company confirmed she passed away on Saturday morning, 18 July 2020, in Johannesburg.

“Moonyeenn helped shape the lives of many actors, directors and writers through her fierce honesty and passion. The South African film industry has lost an icon and a formidable champion of the arts. She will be sorely missed by us all,” said Moonyeenn Lee Associates (MLA SA) in a statement.

Her 47 years in the film industry earned her a formidable reputation.

Lee managed the casting of films such as The Bang Bang Club, Disgrace, the Oscar-winning Tsotsi, Fanie Fourie’s Lobola, the Oscar-nominated Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, Hotel Rwanda and Blood Diamond.

She also managed the casting of  Golden Globe nominees Machine Gun Preacher and Mandela and De Klerk, and Emmy-winning series like Homeland. Lee was nominated for two Emmy Awards for The Looming Tower and Roots.

Her company said she would travel around the world introducing producers and directors to South African actors.

“She would always do everything in her power to convince them to rather cast local actors over foreign actors. Her dedication eventually paid off as many international productions trusted her to cast locally.

“Her family and friends will remember her for her generosity and kindness to those in need, for her fighting spirit as well as for her unwavering commitment to the local industry,” added MLA.

“She is survived by her daughter, Cindy Lee, her son, David Lee and her pets, Hitchcock, Eva and Spice.”

Tributes have been pouring in on social media for Lee, especially from actors whose careers she helped establish.

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