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Obscure Black C-Listers: Leon

25 April 2008 11 Comments

Leon’s appearance as a spooky Jesus-type figure in Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” video back in 1989 was partially responsible for my sexual awakening. I thought, “Oooh! He’s cute…but more than cute…I don’t know the word for it (“hot”) or these strange feelings I’m having (“lust”) but I like it!” When the video came under fire for its sexual and religious imagery am I the only one who thought that all of the fuss was racially motivated? At any rate, Leon has been in dozens of television shows and movies, most notably The Five Heartbeats, Above The Rim, and Oz. He also portrayed David Ruffin, Jackie Wilson, and Little Richard in tv movies, a pretty impressive depiction-list for any black c-lister. My most lasting impression of Leon is his epitomization of “the weakness” in Waiting to Exhale, which is a trait that has been at the core of many of his performances. It’s as if as soon as he comes on-screen he says “I have juicy lips, a boyish gaze, and I’m 6’3″. Don’t worry about the fact that I’m triflin’/have a perm/am a criminal/am some sort of racially-charged manifestation of the Catholic church, you know you want this!” And we do. These days, Leon is head of Leon and The Peoples, a reggae-soul band that makes some good music; although he doesn’t have a drop of West Indian blood, of course he has that hat to the side and that boyish smirk (at 46 years of age!) so I approve. This song is from Bill Dukes’ upcoming movie Cover.


  • Undercover Black Man said:

    Uhhh… so Bill Duke wants some of that Tyler Perry money, huh?

  • Malcolm said:

    His performance as David Ruffin as Emmy-worthy in my opinion. However, he had no business playing neither Jackie Wilson nor Little Richard. Richard is my boy and that movie was terrible!

  • hottnikz said:

    Let’s not forget that stirring performance he gave in that movie about the real life Jamaican bobsled team,lol.

  • Invisible Woman said:

    I agree with Malcolm–his Little Richard was not the business.

    Btw, UBM, Duke’s movie is about undercover gay brothers; I don’t think Tyler Perry would touch that with an 80 foot pole. :-)

  • Anonymous said:

    Anyone else get Gaydar has never even beeped over the years. But just now, reading this, I’m like…hey, how YOU doing?

  • Aida said:

    i think he’s a b-lister, not a c-lister!

  • Thembi said:


    You know what…that’s a really good call…

  • Qucifer said:

    Leon Looks a lot like Uncle Asshole, thus I avoid Leon as much as I avoid Uncle Asshole and his loaded trickery and shenanigans

  • Ill Mami said:

    You are too funny calling out his Ja-fake-can-ness. Just because this fool grew up in Mount Vernon (not The Bronx as he has claimed), does not make you West Indian by default!

    @ Malcolm:

    His take on Eddie Ruffin was Emmy-worthy. I love the Temptations movie more than I love The Jacksons’ movie!

  • Julian said:

    The weakness. You really just summed up his bread and butter…

  • Aaliyah said:

    i do love Leon. he’s 46?!? love it! but this band is a mess…

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