Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon's uplifting and inspirational memoir traces his success back to his Grandma Mamie (who raised 13 children) and his single mother (who gave birth to him when she was 15 years old). "I was raised by two amazing women," he writes, "and I live in the aftermath of their love, care, and wisdom." But his childhood was not idyllic. By 19, his mother had three children, so she left four-year-old Kenny with his grandmother and moved 300 miles away to start a new life with his sister and baby brother. He was reunited with them four years later.
After college, Leon dropped out of law school to follow his interest in theater--first as an actor, then a director. During his 11 years with Atlanta's Alliance Theatre, he directed the premieres of Disney's Aida, Pearl Cleage's Blues for an Alabama Sky and Alfred Uhry's The Last Night of Ballyhoo--which all moved to Broadway. He forged a 20-year friendship with playwright August Wilson ("the most important professional influence of my career") and eloquently explains his love of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun--which he directed twice on Broadway and once for TV. His directorial advice is equally applicable for life situations ("You must work to really understand people that are different from you. You don't learn a lot in your comfort zone.").
This motivational memoir will inspire readers to follow their dreams. And theater buffs will appreciate his astute takes on acting and directing. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant