Actor Leon Dawes looks back with pride and ahead with fierce determination

In the entertainment industry there are people who happen to be at the right place at the right time and find themselves immediately thrust into unexpected and sometimes undeserving fame. There are also those aspiring stars that show up everyday, ready to put in work and face the daily grind to get their name out there. Somewhere, in the place where this determined drive meets talent and destiny is where you will find Leon Dawes, building his dreams one solid brick at a time.

Born into an artistic and musical clan of women, Leon Dawes has always had a peek into the industry, but didn’t immediately recognize his place in it. From a young age he knew he wanted to do something in the arts. Though most children will waver from year to year when asked about their aspirations, Dawes’ answer to that “what do you want to be when you grow up?” question seldom changed. “I was never one of those kids who didn’t know”; he knew he wanted to be an artist, he wanted to act.

There wasn’t a shortage of inspiration in his young life. Leon Dawes saw strength in the faces on the big screen. Although he knew they were only characters, he watched the work of actors like Danny Glover and Blair Underwood and drew inspiration from them. Along with these well known men, his mother, a former singer for KC and the Sunshine Band, and his godmothers, musical great Betty Wright (Clean Up Woman) and Margaret Reynolds (currently of the gospel group Revelation S.E.E.D.) nurtured Dawes’ artistic dreams and showed him the route to greatness.

Crediting his mother with teaching him what a man truly is through scripture and her own struggles, Dawes says being a real man has little to do with muscles or masculine labels but is about “facing responsibility, following up on your responsibilities, owning up to your faults, correcting your mistakes and just being productive and a respective human being”. It’s these values that have brought him thus far in his dreams and continue to push him ahead. Currently single, Dawes also hopes to find a woman to share these values with.

Struggling with self-doubt and society’s views of what a “manly” profession and image are, Dawes wasn’t certain he could make it in the acting world. Fortunately, he also loved art and went on to the San Diego Art Institute in 2000. It wasn’t until an interview in 2001 that Dawes had his potential realized for him.

He had just interviewed with a video game company to be a designer when he received a call from the head of the company asking if he would be interested in modeling rather than designing. Growing up “scrawny” and never seeing himself as an object of desire or the model-type, Dawes was taken aback but agreed. His likeness was subsequently used in Oscar De La Hoya’s Knock Out Kings 2 and Bounty Hunter.  This would later lead him to gain enough confidence to pose for Playgirl. Not once, but three times, beginning in 2003. Using his body-building brother as inspiration, Dawes began hitting the gym with a vengeance and is a self proclaimed “fitness freak” even today, working out 5-6 times a week for sometimes 6 hours a day.

Exposure to the modeling industry led him to take a more serious look at acting, taking courses and studying the industry. Dawes got his union card and appeared on Days of Our Lives in 2002, beginning his break into the acting world. Since that time Dawes has been a busy man, keeping his eggs in many baskets as he explores all the arts has to offer and “flowing with” the new options that arise.

This year alone, he has worked on three movies. Dawes appears in Wasteland, a post-apocalyptic action movie directed by KANTZ (Love and a Bullet). Also wrapping this year was Urgency, featuring Brian Austin Green, Sally Kirkland, and Scott Winters (Oz), where Dawes plays a Homeland Security agent and medic. He also plays a guard in another KANTZ film, Project Purgatory.

Having worked on multiple projects with KANTZ writing and/or directing, Leon Dawes knows the value of reciprocation and building relationships. As a youth, he sent an animated character of Shemar Moore to the actor. He received a note back telling him to believe in his dreams. Fast forward to the present where Leon Dawes met Shemar Moore on the set of the Young and the Restless, not only did Moore remember his art but proceeded to pass on some acting wisdom.

About this Dawes said, “It’s so cool when an actor isn’t full themselves, can understand what it’s like to be trying to break into the industry and can relate and try to help another brother get in. That’s what it’s all about: reciprocating. And you don’t see a lot of that.”

If hard work and reciprocation is what it’s all about than Leon Dawes is moving in the right direction. Next in his line of sights is a “big budget” martial arts action film.  He is also currently in talks with execs on several shows, looking at roles on a few big cable networks. Art and animation remain a constant as well, as he is working to get his female superhero into some production projects. Lastly, he is following in the footsteps of the inspirational women in his family and considering getting into the music industry. Not one to shut any doors, he says he puts his energy into the “opportunities that present themselves”.

Dawes speaks a lot about being surprised by his own abilities. “Growing up I was always fearful of not being able to, or not being good enough to do the things that I have now done. And they would be the last thing on my mind that I thought I would ever be able to do.” A self-described young “nerd” Dawes’ own achievements and bright future serve to further propel his drive and cement his future in the entertainment industry.

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