About Leslie

Originally from Los Angeles, CA, Leslie Cunningham is an artist, filmmaker, multimedia producer, collaborator and founder of TRIBES Entertainment, a boutique digital media company headquartered in Durham, NC. A master storyteller and hip-hop head and with a journalistic background, Leslie is also the creator of TRIBES Magazine, a popular online publication known for telling stories from the frontline of urban music, arts and culture.

Feeding her hunger for producing daring and entertaining narratives that represent diverse subjects and communities, Leslie consistently pushes her artistic boundaries. An artist with a critical eye and a unique viewpoint, her collection of engaging film and videos have screened on public TV and at film festivals in the U.S. and internationally. Leslie’s debut feature documentary film, M.I., A Different Kind of Girl (2012), featuring the hip-hop music of female rappers Kin4Life, was recently chosen for Massimadi, the LGBT Film Festival of Africa and its Diasporas (2016).  M.I. also screened at Gender Reel Film Festival (2014), The North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (2012), and Atlanta’s Out On Film (2012). M.I. paved the way for more projects that would educate, entertain and feature provocative subjects and subject matter.

Leslie’s current documentary film work, JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana, (a 7-year project) tells the story of one of America’s most successful traveling shows that endured racism, segregation and immigration laws to become popular in the 1930s through the 1960s. Also unearthed in the film is the legend of Leslie’s grandfather, African-American showman Leon Claxton, a little-known Civil Rights hero whose vision, passion and determination produced a multi-cultural stage show that still resonates with wonder today. JIG SHOW was selected for the 2016 Sundance Institute New Frontier Program, the 2015 Cucalorus Filmmaker WIP Residency Program and received funding from ITVS’ Diversity Development Fund in 2014. The film is part of a larger documentary project called The Harlem in Havana Project, a preservation of the life of her grandfather’s work. Leslie’s goal is to revive Harlem in Havana’s rich history through a variety of thought-provoking content, including the film, a photography book and exhibit, and the supporting website, harleminhavana.com.

A graduate of the Center or Documentary Studies at Duke University in Durham, NC, Leslie is committed to mentoring young filmmakers and collaborating with other artists and entrepreneurs. Contact Leslie at lesliecunninghampro@gmail.com.