Bronx born Lisa Leone began her career as a photographer shooting musicians Moby, Lauryn Hill and Maxwell, as well as personalities like Debi Mazar and Spike Lee. She worked for British Vogue and VIBE where she was a contributing photographer and columnist. While shooting stills on a music video the director asked Lisa to shoot B roll. So began her career as a cinematographer shooting music videos for artists TLC, D’Angelo and The Brand New Heavies.
A few years later, Lisa began work on Stanley Kubrick’s last film "Eyes Wide Shut", starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Impressed with Leone’s talent and drive, not to mention The Bronx being common ground, Kubrick quickly became her mentor. Little did she know the project would consume the next four years of her life where she would do everything from set decorating, film & lighting tests, acting and directing second unit.
Upon Kubrick’s death Lisa dived into a deeper study between the relationship of cinema and imagery. She continued her cinematography with work on independent films and shows for directors: Nancy Savoca’s "Dirt"; Showtime, Michael Kang’s "The Motel"; Sundance, Reno’s "Rebel Without a Pause", Havana Film Festival and “Citizen Reno” for Bravo. “Union Square” a feature she shot, opened theatrically starring Mira Sorvino and Tammi Blanchard, directed by Nancy Savoca.
"Exactly" was Leone's debut film as writer, director and cinematographer. It stars Rosie Perez and Sarita Choudhury. It premiered at The Tribeca film festival and went onto Sundance and the London film festival. “Just For Kicks” is a full length documentary Lisa shot and co-directed. It premiered at Tribeca film festival and was shown on SpikeTV, Canal+, among other stations around the world. Inspired by Nicholas Kristof’s book “Half the Sky”, Lisa found herself in Ethiopia where she shot and co-directed the film “Woinshet” with Marisa Tomei.
Lisa directed her first episodic in 2017, episode 1406 of Grey’s Anatomy. The year after she had the opportunity to direct two episodes of Step Up: Highwater starring Ne-Yo. In 2019, she continued with the OWN hit series, Greenleaf, directing two episodes. In 2020 and 2021 Lisa directed 2 episodes of the highly anticipated Starz show, PowerBook III: Raising Kanan.
Leone’s photography has been shown in exhibitions at HVW8 Art + Design Gallery in Los Angeles, which later travelled to the Galleria Patricia Armocida, Milan, and The Andenken Gallery, Amsterdam. In 2014, her solo exhibition, Here I Am, opened at the Bronx Museum of the Arts and was accompanied with a book of the same title, published by Minor Matters Books. Additionally, she has exhibited in Dubai at Dubai Design District, in Berlin with a solo show, and in Los Angeles at the Leica Gallery. Last fall her works were exhibited at Gallery 212 in NYC and her photos will be on view at the new National Museum of African American History and Culture – Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. Her photographs can also be seen in the 2018 released book, Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop, which will be on exhibit at the Annenberg Space for Photography April 2019.
In the fall of 2019 Lisa won a Suncoast Regional Emmy for the film, “Remembering Surrounded Islands”, which was commissioned by the Perez Art Museum.
HERE I AM
Photographs by Lisa Leone
The Bronx—Paris—Los Angeles—early 1990s—Hip hop. This culture of music, dance, art and fashion is forever in its nascent and most authentic in Here I Am, the first monograph of Lisa Leone’s photographs.