The art of Sook-Yin Lee by Fiona Hughes

 For her first major movie role, former MuchMusic VJ Sook-Yin Lee decided to go against type. A self-described tomboy who's as comfortable in heels as Stone Cold Steve Austin would be in a bra, Lee plays a dainty, feminine golddigger in the romantic comedy The Art of Woo (playing at Granville Seven).

 "I'm not a girlie girl," she admits, sitting inside the lobby of Fifth Avenue Cinemas. "I had to completely transform my physical body language and the shoe thing was quite a problem. I had to keep getting wardrobe to find smaller and smaller heels."

 In the film, set in Toronto, Lee plays Alessa Woo, an ambitious art curator who poses as a rich Asian heiress to nab a wealthy man. Love doesn't enter the equation. Her plans are complicated, however, when a gifted painter named Ben Crowchild (Adam Beach) moves into the suite next to hers. Passing himself off as poor, Ben falls in love with Alessa and vice versa, but her goal of finding a rich husband gets in the way and she dismisses him. Both, however, have secrets about their background, which are slowly revealed.

 Although it's very much a fairy tale, Lee insists the film is grounded in reality. For Alessa, security comes in the form of money, which motivates most people. The daughter of Chinese immigrants, who left war-torn Hong Kong decades ago, Lee says her mother always sought wealth. "It symbolized security for her and her quest for money brought a lot of pain," she says matter-of-factly. "There are a lot of women like Alessa. Money is a major motivator and she's looking for the motherlode. But beyond the money, it's really love and acceptance that's prompting her and that is something I could relate to in the character."

 Raised in Lynn Valley, Lee left home and moved downtown when she was 15, looking for like-minded individuals with whom she could express her personality. She found it in Bob's Your Uncle, a rock band that released five albums, toured Canada and the U.S. and led to her landing a plum job on Much Music. But music is only one of Lee's passions. She also explored movie-making early in her career, first with The Escapades of the One Particular Mr. Noodle, an autobiographical tale based on a summer job she had walking the streets dressed as a ten foot egg noodle. After the film was selected to be part of the NFB's Five Feminist Minutes, she was commissioned to write and direct Hey, Kelly!, part of an educational, anti-racism series for which she also wrote and recorded the soundtrack. Since then, she's had small roles in a variety of films, including Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

 Lee's reputation soon spread. MuchMusic creator Moses Znaimer heard about Lee through a Vancouver producer and asked her to audition as a VJ. He liked what he saw and hired her. With Bob's Your Uncle dead and nothing else keeping her in Vancouver, Lee relocated to Toronto. After six years, however, Lee felt it was time to move on. "MuchMusic was always pushing me creatively and artistically," she says. "It was never one of those comfy cozy jobs until recently I started to get that familiar feeling that I had to get out and explore a new area."

 Dressed in faux fur coat, Mongolian-style winter hat, Lee is clearly someone who has no problem expressing herself. On her last day at MuchMusic a couple of months ago, the flamboyant Lee mooned the camera. Lee is currently in a "state of flux," trying to figure out her next career move. But she is certain of one thing. "I want to be able to tell stories and create-it makes me very happy to sing, to act, to write music, to work with my friends who are like-minded and to explore new things together. That's my goal. "