EXCLUSIVE: Writer & Director Leron Lee Talks Debut Film On HBO “UGLY” A Must See Story

leron lee
Leron Lee Writer/Director Of UGLY Far Left.


Writer and Director of UGLY, Leron Lee captured the hearts of many during his circuit through the most popular film festivals. After being reviewed and revered by Pan African Film Festival, B.E.T BronzeLens Film Festival, and even Cannes Film Festival, UGLY heads to HBO!

Available now on HBO GO, and airing live FEB 24th 8:15pm EST on HBO, you can watch this short and understand why it’s an award winning story. Too often on television and film do we miss story telling. The pureness of this film, the openness of it will undoubtedly remind you of your first love experiences. Leron Lee captured the essence, it’s a must see film, that will leave you needing more.

TheBLACKMedia nabbed an exclusive with the writer and director of the film Leron Lee asking a series of questions to get inside the mind of the man behind the masterpiece;

LeRon Lee What Inspired You To Write UGLY

“Ugly” is the film I always wanted to see. The story of a kid in the environment but not of the environment. Many kids struggle to find comfort in their differences when it isn’t particularly accepted by their uniformed surrounding..  During my years as a resident and educator in Newark,NJ,  the students that had difficulty navigating their own environment inspired this film. Many kids struggled to identify while being surrounded by popular, misguided thinking. In many situations, students were pressured into situations that fell outside their comfort zone.This film serves as exposure to the characters that are often not represented in these environments. These are the kids that we know exist, but we don’t often see them on the big screen.

 Another inspiration: At the end of the movie, Juno, we see the main characters Paulie and Juno sit on the edge of their porch and sing a folk song, “Anyone But You” by The Moldy Peaches.  When I saw that, I became sort of jealous because that’s not something you’d see in my neighborhood. You’d run the risk of alienation if you did decide to do something different. I believe uniformity is based on the fear to be different. I became influenced to take those characters and place them in my neighborhood. How would those characters interact with their peers here?

 I took all of these thoughts and told it through a coming-of-age love story. Ugly is a film about the laws of attraction in an urban environment and how it affects self-esteem. Sometimes the laws of attraction are opposite of what they should be in our community. The most destructive behavior can be considered the most attractive while the smart and talented receive the least attention. 

Lastly, this is an alternative story to those we see set in these environments. It was important to me to not promote and glorify the negative. This is simply a human story. 

Did You Enjoy Directing More or Writing More

I say the writing process is the most essential but certainly the least fun. Writing is like cooking, but most people just enjoy eating.

Will Newark NJ Be A Go To Shooting Location For Future Projects?

I’m gonna always push for Newark to be a shooting location because it is currently underserved and underrepresented. We need to bring more films there. I take pride in being able to tell a story in a location that is not often publicized with range. There is more than one character that exists here. 

Can We Expect Something New In 2017?

Absolutely, stay tuned, I’m always working.

What Is Your Ultimate Goal In Entertainment?

My goal is to inform, express, and entertain. I love to see those characters that on screen that we don’t see often but are relatable. We come from all walks of life, it’s our job as filmmakers to tell the world our story, our way.

Leading Actors Left To Right: Devon Moyd, Andrea-Rachel Parker

– :) Thanks For Reading #SOULdiers

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