How They Met: Why actor Richard Lee spends every day making up for his younger obnoxious self


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Richard Lee and Nina Lee Aquino had their formal wedding in the Artscape building in the Distillery District

Factory Theatre’s new season launches on Oct. 29 with Acquiesce, a co-production with fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre. The project involves husband-and-wife duo Richard Lee as a cast member and Nina Lee Aquino as the director. This is how they met. 

How they met
Richard: We met at York University while we were doing our BFAs but only connected after we graduated. Nina was directing a play she co-wrote called Miss Orient(ed). My friend Susan was in the production, and I went to watch her perform. I remember I was pretty douchey. When Nina said I looked familiar, I said, “Oh, you must remember me from this show at YPT called Ghost Train. No? Maybe you saw me in a film called Picture Clare?” She called me on my BS, and I couldn’t have loved/hated her more for it.

Memorable moments 
Richard: It’s not my proudest moment, but shortly into our dating life, Nina professed her love for me. I, being the young douchey guy that I was, said that I wasn’t looking for love. I was an ass. 
Nina: You said you liked me a lot, as a friend! And I concur with you being an ass at that moment. It’s OK though, I got you in the end.

The proposal 
Richard: Because of the said douchiness above, I knew I had to make the proposal truthful and exceptional. When we stumbled upon the perfect engagement ring (a simple gold ring with a pink sapphire stone), I knew what I wanted to do. Later that week, I took her back to where she had professed her love to me a year earlier. I took out the ring and said, “Nina, a year ago, when you told me you loved me, I was an idiot. I said I wasn’t ready for a relationship, and what I should have said was that I love you. You and you alone. No one else. So if you will have me, I would love to love you for the rest of my life. Will you marry me?”

The wedding
Richard: We legally were married in rock star fashion (in black tank tops and jeans) but celebrated and had our friends “marry” us a month later in the Dancemakers theatre studio in the Distillery District. 

The honeymoon
Richard: For our honeymoon, we waited almost two years. We went to the Philippines and Hong Kong. The countries of our birth places.

The offspring
Richard: We have one child. Her name is Eponine and she is nine.

Balancing careers and marriage
Richard: What balance? It is a constant ebb and flow. Sometimes it is a tidal wave of work, and other times it is a trickle. Our work life is an essential and integral part of who we are, and given that we are artists, our work is part of our identity. As such, our marriage is also a reflection of that too. And so the needs of things also ebb and flow. It isn’t easy, but we are so fortunate to have, not only each other, but a community (of family and dear friends) that help to make all of this possible.

Life after retirement 
Richard: We make theatre, we watch movies and we go places to eat food … maybe lots of sex.
Nina: Ew. But yeah, that would be nice. 

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Nikki Gill is the managing editor at Post City Magazines. When she's away from her desk, you can either find her sipping on delicious teas or trotting the globe. Follow her adventures on Twitter @nikkjit.

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