The Disney family has lost one of their own. Coco Lee, who voiced Fa Mulan in the Mandarin dubbed version of the 1998 Disney classic Mulan, died by suicide on July 5, her relatives said in a statement. She was 48.
Lee had been hospitalized after a suicide attempt and was in a coma when she died, her elder sisters Carol and Nancy Lee said in a statement shared to Facebook, per NBC News. They also shared that her years-long battle with depression that had worsened in the past few months.
“Although, CoCo sought professional help and did her best to fight depression,” Carol and Nancy said in a statement alongside a photo montage of Lee, “sadly that demon inside of her took the better of her.”
In addition to voicing the titular heroine in Mulan, Lee also sang “Reflection” in the Mandarin version of the hit song. She looked back on her Disney journey in a September 2020 Instagram, writing at the time, “That was my 1st time being an actress as the voice of Mulan in 1998… Do u guys remember ??”
But before she stepped into the shoes of the iconic warrior, Lee had already made a name for herself in Asia as a mandopop singer, according to NBC News. Lee was praised for her strong vocals and captivating live performances during the 1990s and 2000s, including a 2001 performance at the Oscars for “A Love Before Time” from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Throughout her career, which spanned nearly three decades, Lee had released albums in Mandarin, Cantonese and English.
“Not only did she bring us joy with her songs and dances in the past 29 years,” her sister’s wrote, “she also worked hard to break new ground for Chinese singers in the international music scene and has been doing her utmost to shine for the Chinese.”
In Lee’s final Instagram post, shared in December 2022, she reflected on her “incredibly difficult year,” noting that she was “desperately” carrying the words love and faith in her heart.
“Life seemed unbearable at times but I adapted the attitude of a ‘female warrior’ to face them head on fearlessly but always had the biggest smile and big fat laughters!” Lee wrote at the time. “Strength, courage, n bravery is within all of us so use them.”
Lee is survived by her husband of 12 years Bruce Rockowitz and her two stepdaughters, according to NBC News.If you or someone you know needs help, call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also call the network, previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.