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 shooting over ten independent feature films for Showtime, Bravo and theatrical release.
Lisa's debut film as writer, director, and cinematographer, “Exactly”, starring Rosie Perez and Sarita Choudhury premiered at Tribeca, London and Sundance Film Festivals. “Just For Kicks”, a full length documentary Lisa shot and co-directed premiered at Tribeca film festival and was shown on SpikeTV, Canal+, among other outlets 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 for PBS.
She has directed episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy”, as well as multiples of both “Step Up: Highwater “and “Greenleaf”. In 2020 she directed an episode of “Powerbook III: Raising Kanan” and was invited back to shoot an additional episode in 2021. 2021/2022 brought Lisa to Albuquerque to direct four episodes of “Big Sky” for ABC. Additionally for CBS, she directed an episode of the show “East New York”.
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.
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 2022, she was included in the 50 Years of Hip-Hop exhibit at Fotografiska in NYC.
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.