|Birth Day:||February 10, 1956|
|Birth Place:||Tallahassee, United States|
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Some of his earliest stage directing were for productions of Driving Miss Daisy and Ms. Evers' Boys in 1991.
He gained prominence in 1990, when he became one of the few African Americans to head a notable nonprofit theater company as the artistic director of Atlanta's Alliance Theatre Company. During Leon's tenure, the company staged premieres of Pearl Cleage's Blues for an Alabama Sky, Alfred Uhry's The Last Night of Ballyhoo, and Elton John and Tim Rice's musical Aida, which went on to Broadway. The Alliance's endowment also rose from $1 to $5 million during his time there.
Leon resigned from the Alliance in 2000 to take on other projects. These included being the co-founder and artistic director of True Colors Theatre Company, a group based in both Atlanta and Washington, D.C. He also took his talents to Broadway. In the spring of 2004, he directed a revival of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, starring Sean Combs, Phylicia Rashad and Audra McDonald in his Broadway debut. At the end of that year, he directed the Broadway premiere of August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean. In 2005, he directed Margaret Garner, an opera by Richard Danielpour with a libretto by Toni Morrison. In spring 2007, he directed August Wilson's Radio Golf. All three plays were nominated for Tony Awards, and Leon was a Drama Desk Award nominee for A Raisin in the Sun. He also directed the television version of A Raisin in the Sun, which aired on ABC in February 2008. He was nominated for a Tony Award in 2010 for Best Director for his work on August Wilson's Fences, starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, earning them both nominations and wins for Best Performance for Male and Female in a Play.
In 2004, People named him one of the "50 Most Beautiful People" of the year.
In 2007, he was a recipient of the 2007 Georgia Arts and Entertainment Legacy Award for his contributions to Georgia's cultural legacy.
In November 2010, Leon directed Phylicia Rashad in the world premiere stage play Every Tongue Confess written by Marcus Gardley, which ran at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.
In 2010, Leon won the Drama League's award for Excellence in Directing for the play Fences.
In January 2012, he completed a Lifetime Original Television remake of Steel Magnolias. Other projects at that time included the world premiere of a staged adaptation of the 1967 film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner at the Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company; and a musical inspired by the work of rapper Tupac Shakur.
In 2014, he directed the Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun starring Denzel Washington and LaTanya Richardson Jackson and the Broadway premiere of the musical Holler If Ya Hear Me, featuring the discography of Tupac Shakur. A Raisin in the Sun earned Leon a Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play. That same year Leon directed NPR Presents Water±, written by award-winning NPR Science Correspondent Christopher Joyce, and award-winning theater writers Arthur Yorinks and Carl Hancock Rux, with an original sound score by violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR). The show toured nationally, co-hosted by NPR's Michele Norris and WWNO's Eve Troeh and featuring Tony Award-winner Anika Noni Rose (Caroline, or Change); Tony Award-nominee Michele Shay (August Wilson's Seven Guitars); Jason Dirden (Tony Award-winning production A Raisin in the Sun); and Lucas Caleb Rooney (Boardwalk Empire).
In 2014 he won the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play for A Raisin in the Sun.
In 2015, Leon directed the live musical The Wiz for NBC. Cirque du Soleil partnered on the production with plans to bring the show to Broadway. He was slated to direct both the television production and the planned Broadway revival. In 2016, Leon once again partnered with NBC for Hairspray: Live!, starring Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Kristin Chenoweth, and Harvey Fierstein.
In October 2017, Leon was the recipient the Governor's Award for the Arts and Humanities for the State of Georgia.
His memoir, Take You Wherever You Go, was released in June, 2018, by Grand Central Publishing. The title derives advice he received from his grandmother, Mamie Wilson.
Currently, Kenny Leon is 67 years, 3 months and 26 days old. Kenny Leon will celebrate 68th birthday on a Saturday 10th of February 2024.
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