Lena Khan is a Canadian-American writer and director. Her first feature film, THE TIGER HUNTER, released in over 50 cities nationwide this past fall and garnered effusively positive reviews from The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and more. Lena graduated summa cum laude and received undergraduate degrees at the University of California, Los Angeles in political science and history, after which she went on to graduate from the prestigious UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. Lena spent years directing short films, commercials and music videos for international artists. Her films and videos have won various film festivals and received over 30 million hits on YouTube.
Lena and her work have been covered in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Teen Vogue, USA Today, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and various other media outlets. She was recently listed as one of the 25 Screenwriters to watch in MovieMaker magazine. In the last year, Lena has sold a television show, is setting up another at a network, and is now attached to direct a studio family comedy. She is also overseeing development by a prestigious writer for a screenplay she will direct and is working on a children’s book.
What do I do best?
I suppose I am good at completing a goal, without getting hampered by the fact that the “usual way” of pursuing that goal isn’t going to work in this case. My dad once broke a toilet then stole a European’s stool sample to get his Visa into the United States (don’t ask…), and I’m told I’m pretty good at using the same amount of innovation and grit to accomplish what I set out to do.
What makes me the best version of myself?
I don’t like pretending to be someone I’m not. I try to be as sincere as possible. I used to think if I wasn’t “faking it like I was making it,” I wouldn’t be as cool…but the funny thing, as far as Hollywood goes, I almost feel like I’ve been embraced because of it. And, it’s so much easier to keep on top of an image that is just me being myself… Well, at least for the most part. I don’t tell people how I’m way less cool, pop-culture wise, than I think I’m allowed to be in my field. :).
What are my aspirations?
I just want to end days without regretting how I spent them, and the same goes with my life. In my work, that means doing all I can to achieve my aspirations of having a successful feature film and television directing/creating career that makes work that means something to people. In my personal life, it means trying to be the best daughter, wife, mom, friend, neighbor, community member, citizen and person I can be. I want to do as much for people in my life as I can, using what I may have some talents in.
My Biggest Success?
My parents finally stopped asking me to think about alternates to my film/tv directing career. WIN!
My Most Challenging Moment?
I’m actually not much of a saying person…like, I don’t have any quotes posted on my wall or anything…but, I do like this one quite a bit: ““Be kind, for whenever kindness becomes part of something, it beautifies it. Whenever it is taken from something, it leaves it tarnished.”-Prophet Muhammad
My Favorite People/Role Models?
I have a million people I wish I was more like. What folks ranging from Spike Lee to Nahnatchka Khan (creator of “Fresh off the Boat”) and Ava DuVernay have done with their talents and positions is something I wish I can do. Personally, I wish I was like my roommate from college. She’s full of positivity, she dedicates her life to being of service to others, and she’s balanced enough that in a week you will find her in service of her family, registering voters in the community, and still finding time to have a sleepover at my house. I also find role models in heroes like Malcolm X, who dedicated his life to correcting injustices, but was humble enough to change his entire life (twice) as he continued to educate himself. I think that sort of humility is missing in this entire culture these days, and we could all benefit from a bit more of it (just look at what the opposite has done to the President…)
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
I once visited the island of Langkawi in Malaysia and adored it. Not only is it astoundingly beautiful and relatively untouched (how rare), but the people there live in appreciation and respect of the creation in nature around them.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
My car - a 1979 yellow Alfa Romeo Spyder convertible…I try to put it in all my films! I also love my dog and cat, and I don’t know what I would do without my laptop…
My Current Passions?
I grew up with a thousand passions — I juggled knives, I did magic, I tried learning ventriloquism (it failed), I played the guitar and drums. These days, I’m so incredibly lucky to say that my work is my passion. It’s just me playing around and thinking of fun stories all day. I adore it, and am so grateful that doing so (I hope) can hopefully have some impact in this world.