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LeonDraping

Ladies Love Lean Leon
by Yolanda D. White

Itís hard not to like Leon. He is talented, versatile and confident. When I sat down with him and listened to him talk, all of those qualities become even more evident.
The principles and founders of I’m Ready Productions, no doubt cast Leon in a role that would allow him to both be himself, suave, debonair and stuffed with the sex appeal he is known for and was expected to deliver.

“They wanted to make sure they put someone in the role who could do it all, sing, act perform. I do all of that,” he said with a welcomed air of confidence.

Lately, this confident actor isn’t just touring the country with a leading role in “Friends and Lovers,” adapted from the book by Eric Jerome Dickey. He also has a new show on BET, called “Elbow Room,” which airs on Thursday evenings at 11:30 PM. As cozy as his stage living room, so is his “talk show” of sorts. But Leon isn’t doing all the talking, his guests which include other performers, artists and musicians are.

This is a relatively new venue for the actor, who since the Five Heartbeats role, has grown and matured in his craft.
“Most actors grow, they live a lot and experience life, death and work,” he reflected. “And in the last ten years,” he added, “I have grown too.”

His beliefs and philosophies reflect that depth and maturity. He realizes that he is just one man but that he seeks (judging by his recent stellar performance) to give more than what is expected with his acting and performing.

On the way to the interview he patiently stops to greet, take pictures with and sign autographs for nearly every eager seeker. After the curtain, he unabashedly came out into the lobby, mounted a bar and stood up and hushed the shocked crowd, asking, “Did everybody have a good time tonight?” Delighted females and awed men, responded with emphatic “Yea’s.” He wasn’t done. “If everybody had a good time tonight, I want you to do me a favor, ok?” He had full compliance, like a snake charmer and we all were mixes of weak pythons and gelatinous boa constrictors.

He went on, “If you had a good time tonight, I want you to finish this song for me,” he grabbed his shirt open a little more and belted out a familiar tempting tune “You know you wanna leave me.” You can imagine the voluminous chorus that followed from the starstruck crowd.

“I try to give the world the best I can offer, and that is me,” he said. Familiar words from his past revisit him, bringing a smile to Leon’s face. “You work with what you have and the cream will always rise to the top.”

Published in The Milwaukee Community Journal Copyright 2004

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Page last modified on April 15, 2005, at 04:40 PM

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