Things Your Man Won’t Do – at the Citi Performing Arts Center Wang
Actor Leon Robinson, a storyteller at heart
Actor Leon Robinson, a storyteller at heart
A trained stage actor, who describes going back to the stage “like going home,” Leon Robinson (most people know him as the actor Leon), considers himself first and foremost a storyteller. “A story is paramount to me,” says the actor.
Leon has been telling stories of love and loss, hope and sadness, pain and redemption for more than 20 years—on stage, on television, and on the big screen.
Currently starring in Je’Caryous Johnson’s play Things Your Man Won’t Do opposite Essence Atkins, Allen Payne and Terri J. Vaughn, the actor describes how the audience will see a situation or someone that they can identify with in the play. “It’s so funny and so poignant and says so many things about commitment, life, and true love, mistakes and regrets. Everything we all go through in life,” says Leon of the dramedy.
Leon stars as Blake, a newly divorced psychologist who eagerly offers advice to his friend Demetrius on how to get back his woman. But, as things would have it, Blake soon discovers the woman he’s trying to help Demetrius win back, is the one that got away. Putting his friendship on hold in favor of love, Blake is poised and ready to do all the things Demetrius won’t do, in order to get Rachel back.
Part of the reason why Leon was interested in playing Blake was because of his previous working relationship with Johnson in his play 3 Ways to Get a Husband, and the fact that he knows that Johnson is a good storyteller.
Of performing on stage, Leon says “It’s also a great feeling as an actor when you do so much film and television to be able to do a play, where a story starts, and unfolds and finishes, right there in front of the people.”
From having previously performed in other productions, including Friends and Lovers, based on the New York Times best-seller by Eric Jerome Dickey, Leon also realizes that there’s a real desire for both men and women to understand relationships. “Everybody is interested in relationships. We’re all in them. We all have them. Haven’t we all struggled in them? We all flourish in them. They’re a huge part of our lives,” says the actor.
The Banner caught up with Leon by phone earlier this week to discuss his career, advice he’s given to other actors, and his upcoming projects.
You’ve played a lot of different roles both on stage, television, and film. How do you keep it fresh and to maintain a career as long as you have?
Leon: I don’t think there’s any one answer because if there’s one answer then I think everybody would be doing it. For me, I just stay true to me. I think I’ve managed to stay current, you know, whether it be in the storylines that I’m in, my style, my fashion, whatever it is. I haven’t allowed myself to become a dinosaur. And luckily, mom and dad or God, or whatever have blessed me with looking the same. But, I can’t take credit for that. [Laughs]. I take care of myself. They gave me that to work with. I just try to take care of myself.
When I talk to young actors and young artists in general, the one thing I always tell them is to know yourself and try to be the best you, you can be because if you’re the best you, you can be, that sets you apart from everybody else. I often say, ‘that I never strive to be the best anything other than the best Leon,’ because nobody, I don’t care who they are, Daniel Day-Lewis, anybody else, cannot be a better Leon than me. If I’m true to myself and do that, I will be unique, I will be different, and I will have something that no one else has.
I know that you’re working on a new project Hosanna and you’re using crowdfunding sources. How’s that coming along?
Leon: It’s coming along good, a little slower than I thought. The unfortunate part of this business is that when you just want to make some mindless entertainment, you have lots of people who love to throw money at you. When you want to do something that is really about something, which is something in the backdrop that’s our failed immigration system, and the first thing I would want to tell the story, is that it’s for someone of color. Every time we talk about our immigration, all of a sudden we’re seeing Latinos. They’re so many of us that come here that are labeled illegal, been here flourishing for years, have families, and yet been denied their citizenship. I want to tell that story because I know so many of them being a musician. They come from the islands, they come from Africa or whatever, and they want to send them back to their country but they can’t.
Are you hoping to start a different conversation with this project?
Leon: It’s more so I want to make people aware of it. I want to bring more awareness to it. More importantly, at the end of the day I want to tell a story. A story needs to be told because that’s what it’s about for me. It’s about stories. It’s a story that interests me. It’s a story that’s heartfelt to me. It’s going to be a lot of work. It’s going to be hard to play this role but I’m willing to take on that challenge because I believe it’s a story that should be told.
Amongst all your projects that you’re doing, are you still making time for your music?
Leon: I’m in the studio today. My first album with Spectra Record label was due in the spring but because of my filming, I’m doing a TV show for ABC Family as well as a movie and doing a play, it’s been hard to do it. It will get finished this year, it will be out next year, and we will tour.
Do you have a name for the album?
Leon: It’s called Love Is A Beautiful Thing and the single has already debuted on Billboard at #3 on the Hot Singles sales chart and the single is called Love Is A Beautiful Thing.
Any new projects we can expect down the line, in addition to the music and the movies?
Leon: There’s another being release this month or the month after called Where Children Play. It’s a serious drama starring Teyonah Parris who was in Dear White People and Macy Gray, Brian White and Edwina Findley Dickerson. It’s a very serious drama about a girl who grew up in South Central who left and went to Savannah to escape her life with her parents, just to find out her mom died and was forced to come back home and live in that house with her ailing dad who she never wanted to see again.
Je’Caryous Johnson presents the stage play Things Your Man Won’t Do on Thursday at the Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre at 8 p.m., located at 270 Tremont Street, Boston. Tickets: $54.25 and can be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at 800.745.3000.