Tony Le-Nguyen, born as Lê Thiện Toàn in 1968 in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam, changed his name to Tony Lee since he began working as an actor in 1985. Over the past 20 years, Le-Nguyen has worked as an actor, writer, director and producer. He is currently the Community Engagement Coordinator for Quang Minh Buddhist Centre based in Melbourne, Australia.
Le-Nguyen was the first Vietnamese Australian to be appointed as an Official Prison Visitor to Port Phillip and Fulham Correctional Centres by the Minister for Corrections, the Honourable Andre Haermeyer in 2003 to act as an independent voice for the prison system in Victoria.
He is best known for his role as Tiger in Jeffrey Wright’s 1992 feature film Romper Stomper. He has also appeared in other television productions including: Stingers, SeaChange, Raw FM, G.P., Fast Forward, All Together Now, Embassy, Secrets, The Damnation of Harvey McHugh, Paradise Beach and Australia’s most wanted.
Le-Nguyen studied Television Production at RMIT in 1989 and completed his Bachelor of Arts (Drama/Community Development) in 1998 and Diploma of Education in 2000 at Victoria University.
He was awarded the Community Cultural Development Fellowship by the Australia Council for the Arts in 2000.
Between 1986 and 1988, Le-Nguyen toured with Mary Coustas in Handspan Theatre’s production A Change of Face written by Andrea Lemon and directed by Carmelina di Guglielmo. He worked on the Victorian Opera 1990 production of Madama Butterfly and performed in Theatreworks’ 1992 production of Titus, directed by David Pledger and Robert Draffin
In May 1994, he founded Australian Vietnamese Youth Media with the support of Huu Tran and the theatre coordinator at the Footscray Community Arts Centre. The company received its first funding from the Queens Trust in 1995 to produce Chay Vong Vong, a play he wrote and directed with the Vietnamese Community in Footscray, Melbourne. The following year, this organisation received funding from the Australia Council for the Arts and the Sidney Myer Foundation to re-stage Chay Vong Vong as a fully professional production at the Napier Street Theatre, in South Melbourne. In 1998 he was commissioned by Urban Theatre Projects to write and direct “Chay Vong Vong” with the Vietnamese Community in Sydney, Australia.
Le-Nguyen has directed and produced such professional and community productions as A Time of Your Life, St. Martins Youth Theatre and Flemington Community Centre 1996, Now I Lay Me Down, La Mama 1997, Taboo, Next Wave Festival 1998, “Aussie Bia Om, 2001 Fringe Festival and directed segments for the Maribyrnong Festival in 1997 and 2000, Children of the Dragon 2005.
In 1996, he co-directed Worlds Apart with Gary McKechnie, a half-hour Television drama about generation conflict within a Vietnamese Australian family. Worlds Apart was first screened on SBS Television in December 1997.