From the Lower East Side, NYC, Lai's diverse neighborhood and Puerto Rican-Chinese heritage shaped her global interests in alternative female and minority narratives. She prioritizes the physicality and performative role of the cinematographer in the dance between subject and storyteller. She has produced work internationally in China, Ghana, Romania & Myanmar. Her work has screened at Ethnofest, Human Rights Human Dignity International Film Festival, & Wathann Film Festival. She has received awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Points North Institute, Cornell Council for the Arts, City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and China Agricultural University Documentary Center. She also produces digital content for socially oriented organizations like YMCA & University of Chicago.