A few weeks ago, we caught up with our Atlanta Mover and Shaker, Character Designer, Creator of Team Supreme Show, and Advocate, Joshua Leonard.
Atlanta Film and TV: We know from our past conversations that you’re a Character Designer, and creator of Team Supreme, an advocate and now - an actor - with lines! Can you share with us a few fun facts about Joshua Leonard?
Joshua Leonard: "I am trained in Mixed Martial Arts, and I used to Box. I was training for the 2008 Olympics, but Hurricane Katrina happened in 2005, and it messed me up. And, I love films and studying them. "
Atlanta Film and TV: For those who may not know, could you share with us the difference between a Character Designer and an Animator?
Joshua Leonard: "A Character Designer is known as the pre-production or the early stage of development as it pertains to the characters of the story, and what that character will look like. Most of the time, the writers and the art director really don’t have a clear path of what this character will look like. So, that’s where I come in and design fifty different looks for them to choose. An Animator is the person who actually makes the character move. I also know how to animate as well. I am a 2D frame-by-frame animator like traditional Disney style, which is like a flipbook, old school. It’s very tedious, but I love to do that as well. "
Atlanta Film and TV: A lot has changed since our last conversation. Can you share with us what has changed since then, and where you are in the development of Team Supreme Show.
Joshua Leonard: "I got to do Character Design on a Netflix movie, and after I got done with that, I got picked up for a TV show for Netflix. The Netflix movie did get Greenlit, and they are about to make it. I am supposed to be in LA in March, but it got put on hold for now. I think Netflix is taking care of some things on their end, but everything happens for a reason! From Netflix, I went to Baobab Studios and did that for three months. I also did artwork for Illumination Studios and Character Design for Queen Sugar Actor, Omar Dorsey, and now I am still with Hillman Grad and working on Team Supreme. We got two new writers, all of whom have a disability. It is super dope because we can get everything down to the core of the truth of certain disabilities. We’re getting ready to pitch to Warner Brothers. We have gone a different route with the writing, and I am like there is no reason why Team Supreme can’t compete with Batman, DC, Marvel, any of that. It needs to be that good, and my writers got it! There’s been a lot of good changes. Some newer characters, and there are certain things I can’t speak on yet like I usually can. But, there’s going to be some surprises! Zeek is still my main character, but we also have some new ones."
"A Character Designer is known as the pre-production or the early stage of development as it pertains to the characters of the story, and what that character will look like. Most of the time, the writers and the art director really don’t have a clear path of what this character will look like. An Animator is the person who actually makes the character move."
- Joshua Leonard
Atlanta Film and TV: On average, how much dedication do you put into your artwork per/day?
Joshua Leonard: "I probably do about four hours a day, only because I work full-time, and I work on other projects. I get to draw daily, even if it’s not my personal stuff. I like to do my stuff, but you have to pay the bills."
Atlanta Film and TV: What is the day and the life like, for Joshua Leonard?
Joshua Leonard: "I wake up. Drink a glass of water. Go to the gym for an hour, come home, eat, and work from 12 pm - 9. Get off. Shower and eat again, and then I draw until two or three in the morning."
Atlanta Film and TV: With all the technology there is today, would you advise someone coming out of high school wanting to pursue a career in your same field to further their education?
Joshua Leonard: "The four-year degree is great, but you’re going to have to take math, and you are going to take all that unnecessary stuff that you don’t need if you’re going for art. I personally loved the Art Institute. I had a good time, learned a lot, met some good people, and branded myself there. Had I known about all this stuff on YouTube and courses you can take from guys at Disney for three thousand dollars, you would get the same stuff you would’ve received for one-hundred thousand from SCAD. I would go more with the course route because you’ll get right to it. Luckily, I went to an art school, and the teachers catered more to art. They know how we think and know we’re not going to use over half of what they’re going to teach. You still have to pass, but at the end of the day, you have to fail to fail. You have to not do anything. They are going to pass you, but I wanted to be over the top with mine. The way prices are continuing to rise. It’s already hard out here for everybody, and to save that type of money and to get exactly what you want to learn. I already knew how to draw, and I think that’s where a lot of students mess up. They go in thinking they are going to teach me. Art school expects you to already know how to draw,and so will these online courses if you decide to buy them. You have to be at least decent, or you won’t even get looked at. "
Atlanta Film and TV: The last time we spoke to you, you weren’t necessarily acting. But, you just wrapped filming for one of our Kid Movers and Shakers - 11 year old Nicholas Buamah (Who, by the way, made history becoming the youngest tv show producers for his show, Nick’s House! We do know, however, that you can’t speak too much on the show, but can you share about what got you interested in acting, and can you share about your experience working on the set of Nick’s House?
Joshua Leonard: "I never wanted to be an actor. I wanted to do stunts, and I wanted to do fight scenes. I’m an actual fighter and trained in fighting. But, in Hollywood, if you don’t look the part, they won’t even choose you. I don’t look tough enough! I usually get to play the handsome guy, and that’s what I was booked on for Nick’s House! But I guess it’s how I carry myself. They see my pictures with the suits on. I don’t mind doing these roles if it’s going to bring in an extra check.
Shout out to Ms. Gia, my attorney, who reads all my contracts, said, look. We are doing this show, and we want you to animate the title sequence for the show. I told her, Yeah. I will do that. Then she said, we also need you to play this role. It is going to be a quick, hilarious scene and you will get a speaking role. And, I told her I’d do it. I had a blast! I got to work with Lamont Farell, who produced Moesha, Girlfriends, Are We There Yet? and House of Payne. I love being on set, and movies are cool. But, I like behind-the-scenes stuff even more because I’m behind the director, and I’m learning how he’s framing the picture. It's just like an animated movie or tv show. It goes hand-in-hand with my love of movies and film. I study all of that. And, to see it get made.
We shot a thirty-minute episode in three days, which is unheard of because usually, it takes about a week to shoot. We were exhausted, but we had so much fun! I can’t say too much about the show, but there were hilarious people on set. I learned a lot, and it’s probably the sixth TV feature I’ve done. But, I loved it!"
Atlanta Film and TV: You are a man of integrity. Can you share with our viewers the importance of having integrity in the entertainment industry?
Joshua Leonard: "My pops taught me to be a man of integrity. And he told me having integrity is not what you do when somebody is watching you. It’s what you do when they’re not watching. I try my best to be trustworthy and caring. Basically, I’m a man of my word. If I say I’m going to do something, I try my best to do it or communicate that I won’t be able to do it if something comes up. Having integrity is crucial in this industry because your name is your brand. You don’t want them to say anything to negate you getting a job or feature. I teach my daughter that your last name is what you got. If people start talking bad, you gotta get out of that hole. So, you have to keep it up."
Atlanta Film and TV:What are some things you have had to do differently in the entertainment industry?
Joshua Leonard: "Probably, just getting out more. I’m a big-time homebody. I don’t mind going out, but people are crazy! Jason Weaver will invite me out to events, so I’ll go. I’m grateful for that because I do meet a lot of celebrities, and make new connections with them, so shout out to Jason for believing in me. I try to stay out of trouble. I don’t drink or smoke, so there’s no reason for me to be at a bar or club."
Atlanta Film and TV: Can you share with our viewers some Pearls of Wisdom and advice?
"Whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability. That goes with being a person of integrity. Network like crazy. People are out there that will help you. Just because we help you, you still have to do your part and be a good artist. All we can do is put your name out there in the universe, and the rest is on you! When people do that for me, I try my best not to let them down. They can reach out to certain people and have connections that can help. So, I make sure I show out for them. You have to use every type of social media platform. Reach out to people. Network with them. Learn. Stay humble and patient. I think one thing too many people do is see stuff on social media and expect to be at the same stage at the same time as others. It doesn’t work like that! Just because this person is on at 21, your time might be at 30. Don’t get discouraged just because you see stuff on social media because half of it is fake. Life is short. Respect each other. Love each other, and have fun!"
- Joshua Leonard