German-born actress Javicia Leslie stops by on Close-up Culture to talk about season two of The Family Business, playing the lead in a rom-com, finding purpose in life, and much more.
Q: It was recently announced that BET+ has ordered a second season of ‘The Family Business’. The shows follows the Duncans, an upstanding family who run a thriving exotic car dealership in New York. By night, they live a dangerous secret life.What are your hopes for season two and the direction it might take Paris Duncan [Leslie’s character] in?
A: I’m so excited for season two of The Family Business. Since we’re moving to BET+, we’re able to push the boundaries even further. It’ll be even more sexy, deadly, and action packed! We’ve already shot some great scenes for the first few episodes that I know the fans will definitely enjoy.
Q: For people out there who might be thinking of jumping on board for season two of the show; what do you believe makes ‘The Family Business’ stand out in this exciting – but crowded – TV and streaming market?
A: I think The Family Business stands out because we haven’t really had this type of black entertainment on TV. To me, The Family Business is like a black Sopranos! The Duncan’s are wealthy, educated, trained assassins! This is entertainment that should be experienced by all cultures, and it’s exciting to see it within the black community of film and TV Also, it’s special because both men and women can relate. It’s not just a guy’s show, or a woman’s show, it really resonates with everyone.
Q: ‘Always A Bridesmaid’ premiered in September and is now available on DVD and digital download. Directed by Trey Haley, the film tells the story of an eternal bridesmaid who attempts to find love of her own. What will be your fondest takeaway from that project and playing the lead in a rom-com?
A: My fondest take away from Always a Bridesmaid is definitely my relationship with the writer, Yvette Nicole Brown. I’ve been following her career for years, and she’s doing everything I’ve prayed for! She started with acting, then went into hosting, and now she’s writing and directing! I’m blessed to have found a role model and mentor through that film! I also created beautiful authentic relationships with my cast members, we’re like family!
Q: You have an impressive athletic background with training in Muay Thai, Boxing and Weapons. Is an action film something you’d love to take on in the future?
A: Action is my upcoming adventure! I’ve always wanted to be the next Tomb Raider. I love seeing women kick ass! I would also like to get into the superhero world. These are the roles that little brown girls will be able to look up to and see themselves in. It’s so important for me to allow myself to be used for that purpose, a walking example that you can do anything you want to do!
Q: You recently posted on Instagram about the team who put together your looks for Paris Duncan in ‘The Family Business’ and Corina in ‘Always A Bridesmaid’. Can you tell us more about their work and the platform they gave you to go and perform?
A: As an actor, we are nothing without our team, our tribe. It’s a group effort to bring these characters to life! When I become Paris, there’s specific make up that the artist, Ashlyn, applies to bring Paris’ dramatic sex appeal to the screen. While with Always a Bridesmaid, the same artist kept Corina soft and sweet, truly the “girl next door”. This applies to wardrobe as well. Adrene brings outfits for Paris that as soon as I put them on, I become her! My walk changes, my energy changes, everyone around knows that the transformation has begun. Gayla does the same thing with hair! It’s important to allow the vision of your character to expand beyond yourself, that will allow you to have a wider range of expression.
Q: I read that you recited poems by the great Nikki Giovanni in your early performing days. Can you talk about some of the creative forces that inspired – and perhaps continue to inspire – you as an actress?
A: All sorts of art inspires me! I love music. I own a vinyl player, and I’ve been collecting old used vinyls for the last seven years. I love vinyls from the 70s specifically. Those artists sang love songs like they would never get a chance to speak words again. There was so much passion! Listening to artist do what they love inspires me to create. I try to make sure I expand my creative expression through painting, playing my guitar, going to see plays and spoken words, and writing!
Q: I’ve heard you speak a lot about spirituality – particularly in relation to ‘God Friended Me’ – and how it has helped your career. What is the best example of spirituality helping guide you or helping you to overcome something in your career?
A: Spiritually I believe we are given passions for a reason! It’s Gods way of telling us that he’s blessed us with something internally that will lead us to our purpose. It’s important to find your purpose because that’s your input in this world. Your purpose is a necessity to this world. I’ve always felt that my path is paved for me already, so it’s important that I align myself through dedication and sacrifice which allows me to walk my path right now. When you don’t find your purpose, you’re delaying that necessary walk! Our world depends on people walking their path!
Q: What is next for you? Any ambitions for 2020 to share?
A: I’m currently filming God Friended Me in New York and The Family Business in Los Angeles. I’ll be working on those shows until May, then back to God Friended Me in July. So I don’t have a lot of time to add more to my schedule, but God willing, I will be able to squeeze in a film before I go back to NYC for season three. Outside of acting, I have started a non-profit geared towards providing the necessary tools for school age children to prosper in their own communities. I am working on doing a major charity birthday event at the end of May.