A raconteur with a journalistic background, Leslie Cunningham is an artist, writer, documentary filmmaker creator and owner of TRIBES Entertainment, a boutique digital media company based in Durham, North Carolina known creating daring and entertaining narratives through a variety of digital platforms.
Leslie created TRIBES Magazine in 2004 as artists across the Triangle area of North Carolina were calling out for a voice. 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. A public broadcasting hit, TRIBES TV spread Leslie’s reputation as a local media institution to citizens around the Triangle.
A graduate of the documentary arts program at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University in Durham, NC, Leslie’s collection of engaging documentary film, including two feature films, have screened on public television, online and at film festivals in the U.S. and internationally. 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 Film, Gender 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 feature film, JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana, is a three-part educational documentary about her grandfather’s popular traveling revue that significantly impacted Black entertainment in the mid-20th century. JIG SHOW, was selected for sponsorship and funding from The Southern Documentary Fund, ITVS’ Diversity Development Fund, Cucalorus’ Work in Progress Program, The Sundance New Frontier Lab, and Filmed in NC. The film is part of a larger multimedia documentary project called The Harlem in Havana Project in which aims to revive the show’s rich burlesque history.
Leslie enjoys painting, photography and mentoring young artists. She is a member of Film Fatales, a non-profit which advocates for parity in the entertainment industry and supports women directors; and Brown Girls Doc Mafia, an initiative advocating for women and non-binary people of color working in the documentary film industry. Leslie is also a member of Soka Gakkai International (Buddhists in Action for Peace).