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18 Sep 2011

Leon : The Dimensions of a Renaissance Man

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September 18, 2011 Category: Local Posted by:

By Leah Fletcher

 

Multi-talented, memorable, and award winning are just a few of the words us to describe the performances of Leon, the actor and singer. Given the title as one of the Sexiest Actors of All Time by AOL Black Voices and noted for his sexy bad boy roles, Leon expands his resume with the starring role of Silk in the nationally touring revival of Why Do Good Girls Like Bad Boyz.

 

The hit urban theater play, written by Angela Dunlap and Lizzie Berry, has been described as an appeal to women who think “Mr. Right” and the attendant life he offers will forever elude them. It reveals the relational conflicts women grapples with ranging from how partners touch their emotions and the decisions those emotions spawn. In the end, their emotions cause them to forfeit futures due to superficial longings that never seem to translate into the substantive relationships they seek. Why Do Good Girls Like Bad Boyz will be at the Merriam Theater, on Tuesday, September 27th and through Sunday, October 2nd.

 

While Leon, born Leon Robinson, is remembered for such riveting roles in movies from The Temptations to The Little Richard Story, of late he has completed projects that include the independent film Soul Ties, based on the book by the same name, and Troy Bear’s romantic comedy Ex-Free. He also stars in the Robert Townsend’s award winning web series Diary of a Single Mom nominated for 2011 Webby for Best Drama, currently in its third season on PIC.TV.

 

The New York native continues to act and still performs with his popular reggae/soul band Leon and The Peoples. However, it is in this role as a singer and songwriter that his fans know so little about Leon. He is often referred to as a “Renaissance Man” because of the dimensions attributed to his talent as both an actor and singer/songwriter.

 

When Leon is not acting he is touring with his reggae band Leon and The Peoples. In this venue, another artistic side of this talented actor is exposed. He describes his band, which has performed for 10 years, as “a mixture of reggae and soul.”

 

“My love for reggae started at the age of 13 when I heard Bob Marley’s “Natty Dreads,” recalls Leon. He admitted from that moment he was hooked and the music made him sing. He said has never stopped. Leon actively sought out all the talent in the genre totally immersing himself in the music.

 

Even before he formed Leon and The Peoples touring the country appearing in concerts and festivals, he was involved in the reggae music industry befriending many of its artists. He was also known for hosting Reggae shows and billed with some of Reggae’s greats like Beres Hammond and Marcia Griffiths.

 

When asked why he categorized his music as “Reggae-Soul” he stated, “My music has soul influences so just saying my music is straight up reggae wouldn’t be accurate.” Leon further explained, “It’s basically music for everyone. It doesn’t address just one demographic, it’s just good music.”

 

Leon and The People received an International Reggae and World Music Award nomination for its debut CD The Road Less Traveled in 2007. The band was on the 2010 sold out tour For the Love of It headlined by reggae super star Beres Hammond.

 

He is in the studio working on a new release.

 

While Leon does not have Jamaican roots, an assumption that is often made, he has taken an active role in the issues affecting Jamaica. He works extensively with Upliftment Jamaica, a social service organization that provides education, recreation and health services.

 

Leon’s roots, however, are in the Bronx and Mt Vernon, New York. He was born Leon Robinson and raised by his father, a New York City transit executive, and his mother, a school teacher. Inspired by his father to work hard, Leon recalls “One thing my dad told me is to remember that ‘Cream rises to the top.” The advice, he said, has served him well and has become the impetus for doing his best in all he undertakes.

 

As one of three siblings, the only boy with two sisters, he actually credits his older sister for introducing him to the world of acting. He recalls, as a middle school student, being captivated by the musical his sister’s high school drama club performed. He convinced a teacher at his middle school to organize a similar production. Leon garnered a leading role and the rest is history.

 

It is from this beginning that Leon’s became rooted in the entertainment industry. He said he is sustained in the entertainment industry by the love of his fans, who enjoy him live on stage, on the big screen, on the small screen or performing at a concert.

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