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Meet London-based Director, Artist and Storyteller Leian John-Baptiste.  

“I think storytelling is a playful, powerful medium that has the power to open hearts, inspire minds, challenge perspectives or offer new ones.” 

Meet Leian John-Baptiste 

Meet London-based Director, Artist and Storyteller Leian John-Baptiste.  

BA&D: Tell us a bit about yourself.  

LJB: I’m an Artist, Director & Storyteller who is very interested in identity and the unique and diverse experiences we go through. I am drawn to untold stories and using my work to showcase unheard voices. I am currently working writing a screenplay. It’s important to me that there are more creative role models that represent Black audiences. 

BA&D: Where did you grow up and what role did creativity play growing up? 
 

LBJ: Growing up, creativity was everything for me. I was always a fun and playful child, always emotional and intuitive. Expressing myself creatively felt essential to my survival. That might sound dramatic but the act of creating was always an outlet that helped me to process my thoughts and feelings. Whether it was borrowing my mum’s video camera and casting my sister as my lead actress, painting, singing or something else. Those were my happiest moments.  

“I think storytelling is a playful, powerful medium that has the power to open hearts, inspire minds, challenge perspectives or offer new ones.” 

BA&D: Why this career path?  

LBJ: Feels like a calling. I’ve tried to do other things, but I always end up back wanting, needing to create, to tell stories. I think storytelling is a playful, powerful medium that has the power to open hearts, inspire minds, challenge perspectives or offer new ones. I’m inspired by everything; music, movies, books, people, nature, everything! Two of my biggest inspirations are Ava Duvernay and Ryan Coogler.  

BA&D: From a creative perspective, what was your biggest challenge and highlight in the last year? 

LBJ: The biggest challenge in this last year was all the theatres being closed. It meant fewer directing opportunities for stage. The silver lining was more time to focus on screen. Luckily, I love both mediums.  

The highlight? Making it through the year! Does that count? 2020 was a mad year, just to make it to the end with your health and a smile on your face, to me is the biggest win of all. Many of us weren’t so lucky.  

BA&D: Looking ahead – what are you working on?  

LBJ: More writing and more directing. I really want to start directing stuff that I’ve written, so I’m working on that. I’ve been putting it off for far too long! 

BA&D: What does your social distancing reading and watch list include? 

LBJ: Pretty much any book from Iyanla Vanzant! Sets your spirit right during these crazy times. I 

I’m currently reading one called Spirit of a Man.  

I also just finished a Marvel movie marathon, starting from Iron Man to the latest Spiderman, and everything in between. Currently watching Wandavision on Disney Plus and This Is Us on Amazon Prime.  

BA&D: There’s a lot being spoken about around mental health and the arts. How do you feel about the two? 

LBJ: There’s definitely a relationship between to two. For me, creating – whether writing, acting, dancing, drawing or otherwise – is essential for our mental health. Whether it’s your career or not, I think we all need to make more room for creativity in our lives as it can be a really helpful tool to process your thoughts and feelings without even realising or intending to.