Finding Connection Through Trauma and Tragedy with ‘Pursuit of Happyness’ Producer Teddy Zee
“I grew up on television,” says Teddy Zee. “I grew up watching what the perfect family meant. The perfect family with the white picket fence, with the dog and two kids and vacations and love and family meals… I was living two worlds, two lives.”
Zee was raised to survive and take care of himself. His parents had emigrated from China without money or education, and while they never knew where the next dollar was coming from, they always had the TV or record player on, something which inspired his love of storytelling. After starting in HR at NBC in 1979, he worked the ranks of Hollywood, going on to produce and supervise classic films like My Girl, Charlie’s Angels and The Pursuit of Happyness. In this episode, Zee and In the Details host Karen Allen discuss how trauma and tragedy happen to everyone and connect us all, as well as taking responsibility for causing pain, living in survival mode, finding joy in developing stories and his new ventures in NFTs.
Zee’s foray into entertainment happened entirely by accident. While working at NBC, he met the president of the company and, when asking how he got his job, only heard “Harvard Business School.” After attending Harvard Business School, he returned after two and a half years and once again spoke to the president, who told him he had not been telling Zee to go there, he had been telling Zee that he had gone there. It was, however, a beneficial accident, and one which led him to become a creative executive at Paramount Pictures. Now, Zee talks about how the trauma of his childhood affected his life, what he’s learned about healing and self-awareness, and how he’s trying to be a light for others.
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