A Brief History...
Multi-functional would best describe Leon Isaac Kennedy.
To date Leon Isaac Kennedy is an internationally recognized film star, writer, and producer.
Leon is a child of the media, blessed to write, produce and perform in all aspects of radio, T.V. and movies. Kennedy was one of Hollywood’s first minorities who could take a project from an idea stage -- to pen and paper. -- write it -- raise the financing -- produce it -- direct and star in it.
Many look upon Kennedy as a film makers’ icon. As a minority film maker, Kennedy was certainly a pioneer.
Today many more doors and opportunities are now open for minorities in front of and behind the camera. But it was Kennedy, the kid with a dream from Cleveland, with no help from agents, managers, or any support system, who opened many of those doors.
Kennedy was one of the first minority film makers to travel to Cannes -- Mifed -- Russia and China to dispel the myth that Black films have no commercial value overseas. Before he was through, Kennedy’s films had played in virtually every country in the world!
However, if Kennedy had no creative talents, he’d still be considered a major force in the industry due to his proven abilities for making money -- promoting products -- and being able to bypass agents and managers by having direct access to key industry talents.
Raised in Cleveland, Ohio, while some inner city kids were taking drugs and getting involved with gangs, Leon was only 15 years old when he sounded crazy to some of his friends for announcing -- that he had decided to be a movie star! Writer! Producer!
Even at age 15, knowing how to dare to dream and overcome reality, Kennedy realized there was not much opportunity for blacks. So he formulated a plan. “I’ll be a disc jockey… then become a big time air personality … then get my own television show … then do movies!”
Immediately working on the plan, by the time he was 16 he had become the youngest disc jockey in a top ten market. As a successful air personality, he charmed listeners in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, as well as Detroit, Washington, D.C., Houston and Los Angeles as the top rated disc jockey -- “Leon The Lover”.
By age 18, he had his own T.V. show. By the time he was 21, Leon had his own syndicated show “Outta Sight”. Always the pioneer -- (“Outta Sight” was before “Soul Train” and was the first Black syndicated television show in the country.)
Leon went on to co-write, co-produce, and co-host the “Laugh-In type comedy show, and syndicated it himself to 20 other cities (over 20 years before the television show “In Living Color”).
Leon then met the beautiful Jane Harrison, the first Black Miss Ohio, who through their marriage became Mrs. Jayne Kennedy. One week before their marriage, Leon astounded all of their friends by announcing that he and Jayne were leaving Cleveland to make it in Hollywood.
What was astounding was that Leon knew no one in Hollywood. -- They had no jobs waiting, no semblance of beckoning security, and he had resigned from a very lucrative radio and television position.
Leon hit Los Angeles with the tenacity and faith with which he tackled every project. He became one of L.A.’s top disc jockeys and promoted and owned a string of discos. This gave him the economic freedom and time he needed to go after bigger things.
He carefully launched and helped guide his wife Jayne’s career - helping her to become not just a star -- but a household name. Leon stated, “We were a great team. As a young couple we worked hard together, broke down a lot of barriers, set a variety of high goals and realized them!”
Leon vowed it was about faith! And believing in your dreams! With a lot of prayer, hard work and tenacity -- from knowing no one, he helped make them both into someone all would come to know!
After all, what were the chances of two little young black kids leaving Cleveland Ohio, going to Hollywood and both becoming huge stars? Over a million to one! -- yet Leon somehow pulled it off!
Leon once stated, “It certainly was not easy for a young Black man or Black woman back then. The career opportunities just were not there. I had to use my own money and create our own opportunities.”
Leon also explained how he’s been told it was impossible to achieve every goal he’s ever had. But with positive prayer, of God’s Word and its Spiritual Principles -- positive action -- always equals positive results!
Once cast as “Two Sweet Gordon” in “Penitentiary”, Kennedy became an immediate bona fide star. Fan magazines named him, along with John Travolta, Sylvester Stallone, and others “… Box office Stars of the 80s.”
Leon Isaac Kennedy’s “Penitentiary” was the number one independent film of the year!
Kennedy and Penitentiary broke box office records all across the country.
Done for less than $500,000, it grossed over $18 million in just the U.S. box office, resulting in a whopping profit for participating investors.
Back then ticket prices were $3.00 and in some theatres 99¢. In today’s market -- Penitentiary represents a $70 million film done for less than $500,000!
Unlike many Hollywood products, Leon was not a manufactured studio star. He created his own product, his own image - his own good!
Kennedy showed the range of his talents in “Body and Soul” which he wrote, starred in and produced. He starred opposite Muhammad Ali, Jayne Kennedy and movie legend Peter Lawford.
He has starred with such super stars as Chuck Norris in “Lone Wolfe McQuade”, Sammy Davis, Jr. in “Knights of the City”, Barbara Carrera, Peter Lawford, David Carradine, and Academy Award winners, Ann Archer, Oliver Reed and Ernest Borgnine.
Then, at the top of his career, Kennedy suddenly stopped. No acting -- no writing -- or producing. Kennedy simply walked away from the business and industry he so dearly loved.
Kennedy went on a Spiritual Sabbatical.
Kennedy, the international star, was not seen on a Hollywood movie lot -- but instead was discovered speaking, devoting his time to visiting detention centers, drug rehab centers, homes for unwed mothers, churches and hundreds of prisons.
Kennedy explains: “I’ve never done drugs -- nothing tragic had occurred in my life -- God has always blessed me. Yet, so many people were going down the drain of drugs -- gangs -- hopelessness and despair -- there was a tug of God on my life. It was just time to give something back.”
“The Hollywood film business and movie making process has always been one of my great loves. However, positively impacting the lives of others is far more significant than winning any Hollywood trophy.” -- and the only way I can significantly help someone is through Jesus!
Financially, Leon has always been an astute businessman. He always believed in making at least 50% of his money outside of Hollywood. Using his entrepreneurial skills, Leon created and owns a company that purchases, refurbishes and sells houses.
That we have to quit being a slave to the economic system
Quit being taken advantage of by finance companies, banks and credit card companies. Learn how to get out of and stay out of debt -
That you must learn to make money and real estate work for you!
That we must learn to quit being “just consumers” and learn to be “producers”.
In this age of “corporate down sizing” and “out sourcing” - there is no such things as job security!
Leon’s thrust is to teach and empower the people to become entrepreneurial and business minded - God’s way!
Leon states “It’s producing! It’s owning! It’s providing jobs! - and resources for others! That’s economic empowerment and financial freedom!”