We had the good fortune of connecting with Leo Manzari and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Leo, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I evaluate risk on a life or death scale. It’s very rare that the unlikelihood of me achieving a goal stops me from trying it. I’ve based my entire life on this basic principal: the amount of time that I spend doing one thing, is the same amount of time I spend not doing another. Meaning that I have a very realistic understanding that my time on this earth is limited, so I have to fulfill my purpose within the time given to me- there’s no room to stop grinding because it’s “risky”
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Whenever I get these questions to describe my career as an artist, I like to make very clear upfront that I didn’t CHOOSE to be an artist- I am innately to the core an artist; the good and the bad. My strongest artistic attributes are that I am incredibly sensitive, I see and hear art in everything, and I get emotionally effected. by artistic pieces that move me. I am not your stereotypical artist in the sense that I show up late, can’t focus on one thing, and can’t control my emotions- I’ve actually worked very hard to break those things cause I hate those stereotypes and I don’t think that’s what makes a true artist anyway. I say all this to say that my art has been my “true north” in everything that I’ve done in my life. I grew up writing songs and training in dance. I’ve always felt that I’ve had something to say and offer to the world through my art, even if I wasn’t always clear on what it was.
While my career has had a relatively steady incline, there have definitely been dips along the way. I’ve spanned from an Off-Broadway show with Maurice Hines, a recurring role on Showtime’s television show “Homeland,” all the while putting out my own original music online. I’m not restricted to one artistic medium- I stretch as far as I need to an order to tell a story. The hardest thing through this whole journey has been making sure I’m financially set, so I can continue focusing on my art. I feel that’s the struggle of any artist that didn’t come from a wealthy background. But I never let that stop me. Again, I’d rather be broke and creating rather than rich and stagnant…. (but also, fuck being broke)
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This is a great question. Well I recently moved to California and have discovered that the most fun things to do here are outside. I’d definitely take my friend on a couple of hikes in Topanga, definitely go to the beach, and I’d probably take them to a rooftop bar so we could chill outside and enjoy our kick back. And then of course bring them to a Kendrick Lamar concert so we could break in backstage and I’ll tell Kendrick he’s one of my favorite artists, play him my music on the bluetooth speaker I’ll sneak in my bag, and then we’ll roll to his studio to track our next feature song together 🙂
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
This is a great question. I would undoubtedly say two people. My mentor, Maurice Hines, and my mom. Maurice Hines took me under his wing at the age of 14 and taught me everything I know about show business. From backstage, to the red carpet, to wine and dining at opening night parties, he taught me how to maneuver through these spaces. My mom is also another person I have to be sure to thank because she raised 3 kids on her own, and made sure that we all were in some disciplinary art form to keep us focused. She’s the reason I walk on the curbside with my lady, she’s the reason that I don’t put my elbows on the table when I eat (even though I still do sometimes), she’s the reason that I know the importance of showing up on time! Having these two people by my side undoubtedly propelled me to a level of professionalism and seriousness that I don’t think I would have ever accessed on my own.
Other: Make sure to stream my music on Spotify, Apple Music, and Audius music!
Some photos were taken by Diego Rosende, and one photo by Tyler Bertram (the main one I uploaded),