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Blog

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

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About

Meet Leslie

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Leslie is a artist, writer, documentary filmmaker and owner of TRIBES Entertainment LLC, a boutique digital media company known for creating daring and entertaining narratives that represent a diversity of subjects and communities. A raconteur with a journalistic background, Leslie’s collection of engaging film and videos have screened on public television, online and at film festivals in the U.S. and internationally.

Leslie is currently working on her third documentary film, JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana which honors her grandfather’s popular traveling revue that significantly impacted Black entertainment in the mid-20th century, during Jim Crow times. JIG SHOW was selected for sponsorship and funding from The Southern Documentary Fund, ITVS’ Diversity Development Fund, Cucalorus’ Work in Progress Program, and The Sundance New Frontier Lab. The film is part of a larger multimedia documentary project called The Harlem in Havana Project in which Leslie aims to revive Harlem in Havana’s rich entertainment history

Leslie released her first feature film, M.I., A Different Kind of Girl, in 2012. M.I. was selected for The North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Atlanta’s Out On FilmGender Reel Film Festival in 2012, and ended its festival tour in 2016 at Massimadi, the LGBT Film Festival of Africa and its Diasporas. Leslie’s second documentary film, Finding Aumont Whitaker premiered at Durham’s Hayti Heritage Film Festival in 2017. 

Leslie created TRIBES Magazine in 2004 as artists across the Triangle area of North Carolina were calling out for a voice.  Leslie’s 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. A public broadcasting hit, TRIBES TV spread Leslie’s reputation as a local media institution to citizens around the Triangle.  

Originally from Los Angeles, California, Leslie is a graduate of the documentary arts program at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University in the city of Durham, North Carolina, where she resides today. She is a member of Film Fatales, a non-profit which advocates for parity in the entertainment industry and supports women directors; Brown Girls Doc Mafia, an initiative advocating for women and non-binary people of color working in the documentary film industry; and, Soka Gakkai International, Buddhism in Action for Peace. Leslie is committed to mentoring young filmmakers and artists. 

Read Leslie’s Artist Statement

Leslie in the press

Contact Leslie

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FEATURED DOCUMENTARY FILM

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 at jigshow.com

FINDING AUMONT WHITAKER

A short doc film by Leslie Cunningham. (2018, RT 11:42 min) Logline: When Dina learns her real father passed away, she sets out on a cross country journey to meet three sisters she never met. Watch now.

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. Visit maleillusionistthefilm.com. Watch now.
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FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHY

“Yo amo Cuba”

Photo Credit: Leslie Cunningham

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