q&a

Filmmaker Anthony Prince Leslie on the Power of Slowing Down

By
Photography Anthony Prince Leslie

Published August 28, 2020

Still from In My Feelings, directed by Anthony Prince Leslie and starring Nana Yaa.

Anthony Prince Leslie is driven by intention. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Leslie credits his hometown for influencing the way he moves through the world. “Growing up in a Caribbean home, it was really hard being able to express myself as an artist,” he says. “You were geared towards being a doctor or an elected official. It was very academically focused. But with that being said, those boundaries helped me to push through and want to understand other ways I can express myself as an artist.” Leslie’s production company, Equator Productions, aims to create authentic stories and capture the Black experience. His efforts even grabbed the attention of Beyoncé, who featured the company on her website. “My number one goal is to bring something new and fresh to the industry, and I think if Beyoncé sees that, then I’m doing the right thing,” he says. “So, that just put the battery in our backs at Equator to just go harder.”

His latest endeavor is a short film titled In My Feelings, featuring Ghanian performance artist Nana Yaa. The project is part of Google Pixel and LENS’ Creator Labs, an artistic incubator program that highlights emerging artists. Below, Leslie speaks about his inspiration for the film, the importance of collaboration, and the power of slowing down.

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“The idea came about when I attended a seven-day wellness series by Ashya. The series happened during the continuous police uprisings, and it occurred at the perfect time because I didn’t know what to do with my emotions. I couldn’t create work. I couldn’t create art. When I did yoga nidra, I felt like I left my body. I then started to see some of my goals a little bit clearer. Afterwards, I was like, ‘Wow, I think my community needs this. Everybody needs this right now— white, Black, Asian.’ It’s just something we all need to share because we go into the world with these emotions on our back and they can really deter you from your goals. Then that can result in issues with other people in your work or love life. With yoga nidra, I felt it was something that I needed to put in a digestible, visual format for my community.”

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“I understand what it is to be a filmmaker and the different assets between pre-production to post-production, but also being human and relating with other humans visually. I found a way to connect movement and film, and I’m just so attracted to dancers. Nana Yaa brings such an abstraction to how she embodies and interprets movement. For In My Feelings, I didn’t know anybody else that can do it but her. I do think I have this visual tool for a reason, and I’m not just creating work just because it looks good. I actually have a message that I want to reach to people. And, thankfully, it’s being received in the right way. I just want to continue to grow that.”

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“One thing that I really want people to take away from In My Feelings is to take a break. It’s okay to take a break and recenter yourself, just because this world can really run you dry. You have to keep on going and you need to keep pushing. One thing that I really want people to take away from my work is me. I’m sharing and being vulnerable with a side of me that I hope people see as a director, because I try to always approach projects with intention. I want to be able to inspire and uplift people, especially within the Black community. Another thing I want people to take away from my work is just collaboration. I’m really big on collaboration because it takes time for me to curate the teams I work with. I’m very intentional there as well about who I bring into the fold and how we mesh, what’s in our trajectory, and where we cross paths.”