LEONIE — First lady of theatre

By Brian Bonitto Associate Editor — Auto and Entertainment

Sunday, September 09, 2012    

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THIRTY-two years ago, director Lennie Little-White cast Leonie Forbes in her first major film role. She played Dorcas, a mute housekeeper in the romantic comedy, Children of Babylon.

"She is by far the best actress I've ever worked with. She doesn't need words to tell a story," Little-White told the Jamaica Observer.

Today, however, words will play an integral part of Forbes' story. Leonie: Her Autobiography, as told to Mervyn Morris, will be launched at the Little Theatre in St Andrew at 11 am.

Looking back at his 1980 production, Little-White said Forbes was perfect for Dorcas.

"It was like the part was written for her, we didn't audition anyone else. Her mannerism, her body language had to tell the story... and it was a foregone conclusion," he said.

"Because of her professional attitude, she raises the standard of everyone around her and that is a characteristic that our other so-called stars should learn," he continued.

Children of Babylon also starred Tobi Phillips, Don Parchment, Elizabeth DeLisser, and reggae singer Bob Andy.

Little-White, executive producer of television series Royal Palm Estate, subsequently cast Forbes in other productions including the television series Traxx and 2007 movie Glory To Gloriana.

Regarded as Jamaica's first lady of theatre, Forbes also has Club Paradise (1986); The Orchid House (1991); Milk and Honey (1995); What My Mother Told Me (1995); and, Soul Survivor (1995) to her credit.

Forbes, who was honoured for her contribution to the film industry in New York in May as part of the Jamaica 50 celebrations, has had an illustrious career as an actress and broadcaster.

She received an Order of Distinction (OD) from the Jamaican government and a Musgrave gold medal from the Institute of Jamaica.

She was an announcer at the Jamaica Broadcasting Commission (JBC) in the 1950s and produced scripts on Jamaican lifestyle for the British Broadcasting Corporation's (BBC) Caribbean Service.

Forbes has appeared in 12 pantomimes and co-written a book called The Re-Entry Into Sound, with Alma Mock Yen.





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