We had the good fortune of connecting with Allie Leonard and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Allie, can you tell us about an impactful book you’ve read and why you liked it or what impact it had on you?
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I read it a few years ago and re-read it during the pandemic in light of the protests going on and it was even more powerful. The story is about a black teenage girl, Starr, who becomes the sole witness to her friends murder by a policeman during a traffic stop. With everything happening right now, I’ve had a lot of time on my hands to reflect on the many ways I benefit from white privilege. One of the ways is that I saw myself reflected in so much of the books and media I consumed growing up. It’s important that black girls can see themselves reflected in books and media too, and it’s important that white people and non-black people of color have access to those stories. To me, this book clearly demonstrates the intersection of activism, art and the universality of storytelling. I highly recommend it.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m an actor and a writer. It’s something I’ve always done. I honestly can’t remember a time I wasn’t writing stories in my room to perform for my stuffed animals, so it’s cool to be able to do it for live human beings now! I wrote, produced and starred in 2 short films – Convenience and Dosed. They’re doing the festival circuit right now so they’re not available online quite yet. The thing I’ve loved most about the whole process is the community I’ve built through it. From assembling a team, to being on set, to the festivals I’ve had the privilege of attending, it has expanded my world so much. I think the more depth of experiences you have, the better and richer your art will be. It’s certainly helped my writing for upcoming projects.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Huntington Botanical Gardens in Pasadena is one of my favorite places in LA. I have a yearly membership and (when it’s not a pandemic) I go and write in the Chinese garden. It’s an oasis. If you’re hungry, pick up Night + Market Pad Thai (my fave) and make it a picnic!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Keith Powell and Jill Knox Powell – amazing artists and my chosen family in LA. My brother Nicky Leonard who recently moved to LA and has made living here so much better. My boyfriend Sam Lipnick who has an amazing tex-mex restaurant in Washington DC called Republic Cantina (definitely grab some take out if you live in the area!) And to my therapist who is constantly helping me grow and become a better person and artist 🙂

Website: www.allieleonard.com
Instagram: Vladimir_gluten
Twitter: Vladimir_gluten

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