About Leslie

Artist | Filmmaker | Digital Storyteller | Collaborator

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Leslie Cunningham is an artist and filmmaker originally from Los Angeles, CA. A graduate of the Center or Documentary Studies at Duke University with a Certificate in the Documentary Arts, 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.

Feeding her hunger for producing daring and entertaining narratives that represent a diversity of subjects and communities, Leslie is also creator of TRIBES Entertainmentan online publication and TV show known for telling stories from the frontline of urban music, arts and culture.

In her early years of filmmaking, Leslie produced a number of popular shows for the local public television station The People’s Channel, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Her show, TRIBES TV, covered arts and community events in the Triangle area including: Triangle Black Pride , Shelly B, The Queen of NC HIp Hop, and Domestic Violence: Healing through spoken word. TRIBES TV was a public broadcasting hit and spread Leslie’s reputation as a local media institution to citizens around the Triangle.

In 2012, Leslie released her first feature-length documentary film, M.I., A Different Kind of Girl, which debuted at the Hayti Heritage Film Festival in March 2012, followed by a three-city Pride Festival tour through Philadelphia, St. Louis, and ending in Raleigh at the Triangle Black Pride Festival. M.I. also was chosen for The North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and Atlanta’s Out On Film in 2012, Gender Reel Film Festival (2014) and Massimadi, the LGBT Film Festival of Africa and its Diasporas in 2016.

Now, Leslie is working on the documentary project that has become her life’s work, The Harlem in Havana Project, which honors her family’s Black and Cuban stage show and the legacy of her grandfather, Leon Claxton, one of the twentieth century’s most successful traveling show producers. Leslie’s goal of the project is to revive Harlem in Havana’s rich history through a variety of thought-provoking content, including Brown-skin Showgirls, a photography book and exhibit, and JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana, a feature documentary film coming in 2020.

Leslie is a member of Film Fatales, an inclusive community of women feature film and television directors and is committed to mentoring emerging young filmmakers.