Actor Leon — and yes, he is well-known enough to be identified by just his first name — has been thrilling audiences since the early ’80s. The charismatic thespian stole the show and our hearts in films like The Five Heartbeats, Above the Rim, Cool Runnings, The Temptations, and Waiting to Exhale.
Rolling out had an opportunity to catch up with the Hollywood sex symbol to talk about what he’s been up to lately. Turns out, quite a bit. –christa e. jackson
Has your career progressed as you expected?
I think when you have a lot of ambition like I do, things never move as quickly as you would like for them to. … There were a few choice roles but they went to my good friend, Denzel Washington and ultimately you just had to make a name for yourself, and luckily, I did.
What type of music do you and your band perform?
Leon and the Peoples is the name of my band and we play reggae soul music. … Our first record is called The Road Less Traveled and it was nominated for a National World Reggae Music Award.
How does your daughter handle having two high-profile parents?
My daughter, Noelle, is my sweetheart and she has grown up in this industry her whole life, with her mother [Cynthia Bailey, "The Real Housewives of Atlanta”] being a big-time model and me being an actor, she doesn’t know anything else. … She is very well adjusted … and we try to make her life as normal as we can, like with getting good grades and things like that. She has wonderful opportunities, but that goes with the territory.
What are you working on now?
I am currently involved in a project that is directed by Robert Townsend called “Diary of A Single Mother,” [w[which is]n its third season. It is a Web series … and it looks like it will be picked up by a network very soon. … I did the show as a favor to Robert, and it ended up being a blessing for me. … It’s a really well-made show about three single women living in one tenement trying to raise their children and their struggles. The cast includes Monica Calhoun, Valerie Ortiz, Billy Dee Williams and Richard Roundtree. Not only is it a show, but single mothers from all over the country can connect with one another to talk about their issues and get help and support from one another. It can be seen on www.pic.tv, which is co-chaired by Barack Obama. It’s a wonderful show.