Moonyeenn Lee, ‘Hotel Rwanda’ and ‘Blood Diamond’ Casting Director, Dies of COVID-19 Complications at 76

Lee was also an agent and producer and a two-time Emmy nominee for “The Looming Tower” and “Roots” (2016)

Moonyeenn Lee
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Moonyeenn Lee, a legendary South African casting director and agent who cast films such as “Blood Diamond,” “Hotel Rwanda” and “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” died Saturday due to complications caused by the coronavirus in Johannesburg. She was 76.

Lee’s passing was confirmed by a representative in Johannesburg and announced on a Facebook page for her agency Moonyeenn Lee & Associates (MLA).

Lee was renowned in her native South Africa and boasted 47 years in the film industry, earning a lifetime achievement award named for Lionel Ngakane from the South African Film & Television Awards in 2017. She was also the first South African member of AMPAS and the Television Academy.

Lee was also one of South Africa’s best-known agents through her company Moonyeenn Lee & Associates (MLA). In 2003, Lee was nominated to the National Executive Committee of the Independent Producer’s Organization and to the film board of Create South Africa. She alsoformed the production company Khulisa Productions to specialize in South African films and produced the 2002 movie “Promised Land.”

“Work was central to her life. Her actors were her family. The directors and producers she worked with were all her friends,” her company said in its announcement. “She was brutally honest, a bit too much for some, but she believed in saying things as they were. Her quick wit, her wicked sense of humour and deep understanding of her craft made her interesting company. 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.”

Among some of her film credits as a casting director are “The Bang Bang Club,” “Disgrace,” “Tsotsi, “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom,” “Hotel Rwanda” and “Blood Diamond.” She also worked in TV on shows like “Homeland,” “The Prisoner” and “No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” and was nominated for two Emmys for “The Looming Tower” and “Roots” (2016).

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