Memoir of an 8-year old "boat person" who flees post-war communist Vietnam in search of a father and brother rumored to have escaped to the West. Braving sea storms and pirates in an overloaded fishing boat, Hiep and her younger sister are rescued by British sailors and interned in a series of horrific Hong Kong refugee camps. Surviving by their wits, these displaced children of the sea create their own primitive society amid the dispirited and desperate adults awaiting sponsors in the U.S. Finally settling in California, Hiep's family is reunited only to confront the promise and perils of modern America. Especially meaningful to young readers struggling to find their own identities, Daughter of the Sea depicts an epic, extraordinary journey from East to West, from childhood lost to premature adulthood and the rebirth of a most remarkable young woman. Young Adult Nonfiction: Publisher pending.
© Jay Wurts
Hiep Thi Le was born in 1971 one of seven children in Da Nang, Vietnam. At the tender age of eight, she and her younger sister stowed away on a fishing boat, believing their mother was aboard. It was a perilous journey which landed the sisters in the first of several refugee camps. Hiep's family was eventually reunited years later in northern California. Once in the US, Hiep taught herself to read and write English. She was educated at Oakland high school and studied pre-med at the University of California, Davis. It was during college that on a whim she agreed to accompany her sister and friends to an open casting call for the Oliver Stone film Heaven and Earth. Hiep was surprised to receive a call back the following week. After an arduous five-month audition including thousands of applicants for the lead role, the part was hers.
Following Heaven and Earth, Hiep continued to act in several films and television shows. In 2002 she began a second career in the restaurant business, first as a chef at China Beach Bistro in Venice Beach and later as both chef and owner of Le Cellier in Marina Del Rey. Hiep courageously battled stomach cancer and died at the age of 46 in early 2018. She is survived by her husband, their two children and her parents.
Above all, Hiep was the proud mother of two.
The project is being managed by Hiep's friend and business partner, Jill Powell.