Leslie Black is Bringing the Black Lives Matter Movement to the Forefront of Cinema – The Hype Magazine
Published on May 28th, 2021 | by Crystal Willis
Actress and Filmmaker Leslie Black is part of a new generation of artists bringing the Black Lives Matter movement to the forefront of the American consciousness. MOMMAS is a gripping thriller about four Black mothers each grieving the loss of a son claimed by police brutality. When the legal system fails to bring accountability, the women take matters into their own hands in a high-stakes gambit for justice.
Leslie Black first burst onto the scene starring in the crime drama film, Metro. Since then, her career has flourished to include supporting and leading roles for major network productions like Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings (Netflix), Dynasty (The CW), and DC’s Doom Patrol (HBO Max). She can also be seen playing a heartbroken mother in TV One’s hit show #Murder and a badass lady pirate in the Sony Pictures original movie, Party Boat. Leslie’s talents range from method and comedic improv acting to dramatic tragedy, all of which can be seen in her 2021 independent short film, Mommas.
Having grown up in a military family, Leslie has lived all over the world. Her Black womanhood and international background help inform Leslie’s worldview, helping her embrace compassion and understanding across cultural barriers. Her global experience and intersectional identity have helped shape Leslie into the bold artist and storyteller she is today. We sat down to interview Leslie:
As a Producer, Director, Writer, and Actress what do you think is the future of the TV and film industry?
Leslie Black: I think that the television and film industry is going in a positive direction and it’s pretty exciting to watch. You know, there are so many different platforms out there right now for creatives to showcase content. Which is great!
We now have options like crackle, Hulu, Netflix, and even YouTube. In the future, I foresee there being even more platforms providing a space for creatives to showcase their art through film and television.
How has your journey been as a Black woman in the entertainment industry?
Leslie Black: It’s been a pretty beautiful experience. In my time as an actress and producer, I haven’t run into many challenges. This is partly because I have been tasked with the opportunity to tell stories about people who look just like me. So, I’m thankful for the opportunity to do so.
How did the film MOMMAS come about and what can we expect from it?
Leslie Black: Well….they say art imitates life. I’m a news junky at heart. So, I have seen all of the news of police brutality against our community play out in the media. As a mother, you know, it really hurt me to watch other mothers lose their child. Not only lose them but lose them in such a violent manner at that. So, I wanted to use my talents to shed light on that experience in hopes of bringing change.
I personally have experienced a lot of grief in my life from losing my mother and father at a young age and most recently my own sister. So I know first hand what it’s like to experience grief. I also have loved ones close to me who have lost children themselves. So I’ve seen firsthand the toll that can take on a mother who’s losing their son. Because of that, I was inspired to do something to help bring change. Growing up, I used to hear the elders say that they don’t want to outlive their children.
I wrote Mommas as a mother’s reply to all of the instances of police brutality that are going on in our society. The movie showcases many themes such as grief, mental illness, trauma, racism, guilt, and forgiveness.
My hope is that people who watch this project not only feel the pain of these mothers but truly see them. I would like it to bring forth some sort of change so that other mothers don’t have to experience this level of grief.
What was your reaction when you saw yourself on screen acting for the first time?
Leslie Black: I was over the moon. You know, it felt like a dream come true because it truly was. I worked so hard to get to that point and reaching that goal made me feel very accomplished. It also reminded me of how far I’ve come and how much further I have to go.
What are some valuable lessons the entertainment industry has taught you?
Leslie Black: The most valuable lesson I’ve learned from the entertainment industry is to stay the course and to stay grounded while you’re doing it. I think there have been several times in my journey where I wanted to give up. But tenacity has driven me to keep going and continue to find my stride.
As you know, the industry has its ups and it has its downs. It makes you question yourself sometimes, but staying the course is what has gotten me this far. I think if I had ever given up then I would have missed out on a lot of amazing moments in my career.
What was it like being a part of a military family?
Leslie Black: That was a really exciting time in my life. I got to travel the world at a really young age. I was born in the Philippines. I got to experience what it was like to live in Japan, Korea, and Guam. That experience showed me just how beautiful the world is and just how different people are around the world. I was able to experience so many new cultures.
Growing up in the military, I was fortunate in that I never experienced racism abroad. It wasn’t until I moved to the United States that I began to have experiences with racism. That was pretty interesting because when I was in the military we didn’t place so much emphasis on skin color. We saw each other more as military families abroad. I really enjoyed getting to have a childhood like that. It taught me to be culturally aware, very diverse, and extremely adaptable.
I feel that because of the military, I can adapt to almost any situation. I attribute that to us having to move across the world into different cultures
and places. That was extremely helpful in developing me into the woman and actress that I am today.
What would you like to see more of in regards to the entertainment industry?
Leslie Black: I would like to see more productions with various body types. You know, we all come in many shapes and sizes and I would like to see the reality of that reflected on screen.
What’s next for you?
Leslie Black: I recently just booked a Lifetime movie and I’m really excited about that role. I’m also continuing to develop. I’m writing new scripts, creating new concepts and I’m loving this new journey of filmmaking that I’m on.
What else would you like our readers to know about any creative or humanitarian endeavors you’re involved with?
Leslie Black: Currently, I’m in the process of creating more impactful projects that highlight subject matter similar to the topics of racism and police brutality in an effort to bring change. On the philanthropic side, I’m in the process of working on a non-profit to help combat racism.
For more information on Leslie Black, visit her website at www.LeslieBlack.net.
Keep up-to-date on social media:
Twitter and Instagram @leslieblackacts and on Facebook as @LeslieBlack
● IG: https://www.instagram.com/
● Twitter: https://twitter.com/
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Photo Credit:Bjoern Kommerell