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Panel 1


Super Studs, Brownskin Showgirls and Challenging Identities- My Artist Journey

From making film to writing lyrics to painting on a blank canvas, I am at peace in the world when I am creating. A writer, visual artist and documentary filmmaker, I come from a family of artists and musicians from Los Angeles, CA. As a kid, all I ever wanted to do was go to … Continue reading Super Studs, Brownskin Showgirls and Challenging Identities- My Artist Journey

Panel 2


Leslie is an artist, documentary filmmaker and storyteller who feeds her hunger by producing daring and entertaining narratives that represent a diversity of subjects and communities. A graduate of the documentary arts program at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University in North Carolina, Leslie’s collection of engaging documentary film and videos have screened on public television, online and at film festivals in the U.S. and internationally. 

Leslie released her first feature-length documentary film, M.I., A Different Kind of Girl in 2012. M.I. debuted at the Hayti Heritage Film Festival, followed by a three-city LGBTQ Pride Festival tour through Philadelphia, St. Louis, and ending in Raleigh at the Triangle Black Pride Festival in 2012. M.I. was also selected for The North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Atlanta’s Out On FilmGender Reel Film Festival, and Massimadi, the LGBT Film Festival of Africa and its Diasporas.

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Leslie is the creator of TRIBES Magazine, an award-winning online publication known for telling stories from the frontline of urban arts and entertainment. Her popular show TRIBES TV covered North Carolina arts and community events and aired on public television stations, including Durham Community Media and The People’s Channel in Chapel Hill, NC. Popular episodes included: The Big Freedia show in Durham, Shelly B, The Queen of NC Hip Hop, and Triangle Black Pride. A public broadcasting hit, TRIBES TV spread Leslie’s reputation as a local media institution to citizens around the Triangle.

The granddaughter of a great impresario, Leslie is currently working on her second full-length documentary film, JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana. The film honors her grandfather’s wildly popular traveling revue that significantly impacted Black entertainment during Jim Crow times. The film is part of a larger multimedia documentary project called The Harlem in Havana Project which aims to revive Harlem in Havana’s rich entertainment history through a variety of thought-provoking content.

Leslie is a member of Soka Gakkai International (SGI), a worldwide Buddhist network which promotes peace, culture and education through personal transformation and social contribution. She is also member of Film Fatales, a non-profit which advocates for parity in the entertainment industry and supports women directors, Leslie is committed to mentoring young female filmmakers.

Read Leslie’s Artist Statement

Leslie in the press

Contact Leslie


Panel 3


JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana

A documentary film by Leslie Cunningham. (Coming Fall 2020)

Logline: The glorious legend of Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana, a so-called Jig Show that endures racism, segregation and immigration laws to become popular in the 1940s through the 1960s. Read more.

M.I., A Different Kind of Girl 

A documentary film by Leslie Cunningham. (2012, RT 52 min)

Logline: A male impersonator struggles to find acceptance from her families and the male-dominated drag community. . Read more.

Panel 4


“Yo amo Cuba”

Photo Credit: Leslie Cunningham

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