Lee Shallat Chemel was born in Los Angeles and initially became an academic, earning several graduate degrees and teaching at colleges throughout the country. When she received a teaching grant at Orange Coast College, she was persuaded to direct the 18th century British comedy play The Rivals by Richard Brinsley Sheridan. She began directing plays at many colleges and small theaters in Southern California, which led to meeting writer-producer Gary Goldberg in 1983 who had recently created Family Ties. Goldberg hired Chemel to direct several episodes of the series and she has been working steadily in television ever since, helming episodes of almost 90 different series including; Diff’rent Strokes, Full House, Benson, The Hogan Family, Newhart, Northern Exposure, Murphy Brown, The Nanny, NewsRadio, Spin City, Just Shoot Me!, Mad About You, Suddenly Susan, Becker, Greg the Bunny, Arrested Development, The Bernie Mac Show, Gilmore Girls, Ugly Betty, Gossip Girl, Hannah Montana, Happily Divorced, Raising Hope and The Middle; among many others. Chemel has also served as a director-producer on The Nanny, Gilmore Girls and Happily Divorced.
Chemel also directed the feature Greener Mountains in 2005. For her directorial efforts, Chemel has been nominated for four Emmys; Murphy Brown (1992), Mad About You (1994), a CBS Schoolbreak Special: Other Mothers (1994), and The Nanny (1995).
Chemel has a long history of Guild service including, beginning as a strike captain in 1987 during the famed “five-minute strike,” the only strike in the history of the Directors Guild. Chemel served on the Guild’s National Board from 2001-2009, the Western Director’s Council from 1999-2007 and on the 2002, 2008 and 2011 Negotiating Committees.