Who is Kenny Leon?

Kenny was born in Tallahassee, Florida and is the oldest in his family of four boys and one girl.  His parents moved to St. Petersburg Florida, where he attended Northeast High School and participated in Upward Bound, a program for college-ready students who needed financial support.  He graduated in 1974.   Kenny graduated from Clark Atlanta University in 1978 with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Theatre.  Post-graduation, Kenny moved to Los Angeles to attend law school then a year later decided to return to Atlanta to pursue his passion for acting and directing.  In 1987, Leon was named National Endowment for the Arts, Theatre Communications Group Directing Fellow.  The program was based in New York City, but Leon regularly worked at regional theatres, including Baltimore’s Center Stage and San Jose Repertory Theatre.

At the Academy of Music & Theatre in Atlanta, Kenny worked with prison inmates and residents of nursing homes to conduct workshops.  He developed a list of exercises utilizing improv techniques to work with the disenfranchised and overlooked members of society.  He furthered his commitment to the project with “People of the Brick,” a theatre work documented by PBS.  Kenny worked with playwright Barbara Lebow to create a play using these improv techniques and employed the homeless people as actors in the play.  Together, they showcased their work and performed the play publicly.  Their performances sold out, and all profits and income reaped from the project were donated directly to the homeless. In 1988, Leon was named Associate Artistic Director of the Alliance Theatre.  A little over a year later, he was named Artistic Director.  The rest of his professional life is history…

Kenny enjoys playing golf and spending time with family and friends while he splits his work time between Atlanta, Los Angeles, and New York.  He is fueled by his passion for the youth of tomorrow and nourishes his spirituality as an active member of Cascade United Methodist Church in Atlanta.

KENNY LEON (Director). Broadway credits include August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean (five Tony nominations) and the Tony Award-winning revival of A Raisin in the Sun, both featuring Phylicia Rashad; for the latter, he earned a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Director of a Play. Other directing credits include the Off-Broadway hit Emergence-See featuring Daniel Beaty, Blues for an Alabama Sky, and From the Mississippi Delta (Huntington Theatre).

Leon is founding artistic director of True Colors Theatre Company, dedicated to diversity and the preservation of African-American classics; prior to that, he was artistic director of the Alliance Theatre for more than a decade, where he produced ten world premieres, including Elton John’s Aida and Debbie Allen’s Soul Possessed. Other recent directing credits include the world premiere of Toni Morrison’s opera Margaret Garner as well as the film adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, featuring Phylicia Rashad and Sean Combs, soon to be released on network television in collaboration with Sony and ABC. He also looks forward to his upcoming collaboration with the Kennedy Center to pay homage to the great playwright August Wilson; the project will showcase all 10 of Wilson’s plays in one concentrated package under Leon’s artistic leadership.

Leon has directed extensively at regional theatres throughout the country, including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, San Jose Rep, Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, Hartford Stage, Baltimore’s Center Stage, New York’s Public Theatre, Los Angeles’ Center Theatre Group, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Dallas Theatre Center, GA Shakespeare Festival, Arena Stage, and the Theatre of the Stars. One of People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People” in 2004, he received the MIT Eugene McDermott Award in addition to Martell Cognac’s “Rise Above Award,” honoring his artistry and entrepreneurial spirit, and is currently the face of Martell. Leon is a graduate and honorary Ph.D. of Clark Atlanta University and was chosen as one of the “Top 20 Southerners to Watch” by London’s Financial Times.

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Recent News

Wendell’s ($15) weekend pick: ‘Emergen-SEE!' click to read full article

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Wendell Brock
July 27, 2007

For the final weekend of the National Black Arts Festival, True Colors Theatre has brought back Daniel Beaty’s amazing one-man performance piece, “Emergen-SEE!” — which imagines a mind-blowing New York day in which a slave ship magically appears in front of the Statue of Liberty.

A fantastical voyage that exposes the personal and political baggage of a young African-American slam poet, it’s a tour-de-force evening of theater. In the tradition of Anna Deavere Smith, Beaty’s virtuosic performance style requires him to re-invent himself with split-second timing — playing an entire family, a neighborhood and all the eyewitnesses to an apocalyptic event that will ultimately be as healing as it is tumultuous....

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'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner' Play Headed for Broadway click to read full article

By BWW News Desk
AOL Black Voices
Posted July 17, 2007

Jeffrey Finn Productions will present on Broadway the stage premiere of the classic 1967 Academy Award-winning film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, to be directed by Kenny Leon (A Raisin in the Sun, Gem of the Ocean, Radio Golf). Based on the original Oscar-winning screenplay by William Rose, the play will be adapted by Todd Kreidler, who served as dramaturg to the late August Wilson on both Gem of the Ocean and Radio Golf. The production is aimed for a Broadway premiere in Fall 2008..

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'Radio Golf' Swings for a Tony click to watch video

Director Kenny Leon discusses August Wilson's final hit play.

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Find more Kenny Leon related articles and news listed on the press page.

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Works in

Progress

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Ceremonies in
Dark Old Men!

at the Balzer at Herren's

July 11-28 extended through
August 19!

Atlanta, GA

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Emergen-SEE!

at the Woodruff Arts Center on the Alliance Stage

July 26-29

Atlanta, GA

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A Raisin in the Sun
'The Movie'

To be featured on ABC.
Broadcast Feb. 2008

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Guess Who's Coming
to Dinner

Coming to Broadway
Fall 2008

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Kennedy Center Project

"August Wilson Century Cycle"

Scheduled for March 2008
Washington, DC

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Margaret Garner

October 2008
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