A Candid Interview with Leslie Susana Campbell

Seasoned Bahamian-Cuban actress Leslie Susana Campbell chatted to About Insider on transitioning from The Bahamas to the bright lights of Hollywood and becoming one of the islands’ national treasures. 

HELLO LESLIE SUSANA CAMPBELL, WELCOME TO ABOUT INSIDER! THANK YOU FOR TAKING TIME TO SPEAK WITH US TODAY. CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR WONDERFUL ACHIEVEMENTS TO DATE. WHO INSPIRED YOU TO BE AN ACTOR?
Acting was nowhere on my radar as something I could actually pursue. I was an Athlete for The Bahamas National Swim Team. I was expected to pursue medicine. These two areas were my only focus. On top of that, I had no knowledge of any acting or performing related classes near me. The most that I knew about were dance studios, and music classes. When I was a child, I had wanted to be a ballerina, but was told that I was going to grow to be too tall in order to be one, so my parents put me in swimming instead.
I had always known that I was an artist of some kind, but I had yet to have any interaction, or run in with performing until my senior year of high school. That year I had given a senior speech, and my speech was a spoken word piece that I had written. I received a standing ovation for it, and that moment had changed my internal world. I knew I was meant to be on the stage. Initially, I thought it was as a spoken word performer. After graduating, I went to Arizona State University, where I began as a Cellular & Genetic Development major. I quickly realized that that was not the path for me. After being miserable my entire first semester at college, I called my parents and let them know that I had to change majors because something was not right. On an impulse one evening, after classes for the second semester of my sophomore year opened up, I added an acting class to my list of classes. In that class, I met my first ever acting teacher. She was instrumental in placing faith in my ability as an actor. She gave me a lead role in her MFA thesis project and from there my love for acting was solidified.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE PROJECTS THAT YOU TYPICALLY PREFER?
I absolutely prefer projects where there is some form of personal attachment. The projects that I’ve been in so far have been driven by my colleagues, and fellow storytellers’ desire to reveal how said attachment has impacted their life. The end result has always been a beautiful working relationship, and an even more beautiful project, I prefer projects that have a deeper history to the creator. I prefer projects that impact our understanding of the set status-quo or cultural hegemony, if you will. I have an utmost preference for projects that reveal some sort of undiscovered truth about the human condition.

HOW IMPORTANT IS TRAINING FOR YOU?
Training for me is paramount. My background is in Athletics. Training is an opportunity for me to have a laser focus on my craft. I have no other way to gauge my emotional athleticism, or the state of my ‘instrument’ without it. Training for me is my personal laboratory. Here, I can tinker with extremes or unusual choices. Training is where I give myself permission to ‘go’ where I have never gone before, without the pressure of delivering a polished performance. Training is my investment in my craft. The sweat I put in now, will help me call upon the strength I need on a day of performance or if I need to save my scene partner, or if I’m being offered a gift from my same partner and I can play and collaborate with them because I am in excellent enough acting “shape”.

WE READ THAT YOU STAR IN THE NEW MOVIE GUNS & GOLD AT HIGH NOON. WHAT IS THE STORY ABOUT?
Yes so, ‘Guns and Gold at High Noon’ follows the young protagonist Rick Walters, aka ‘Drift Wood’, a spontaneous, laughable, young, and irrational but highly skilled drifter. Drift Wood is on the run with several enemies hot on his trail. They’re after the bag he’s in possession of, and the hefty 750,000 bounty placed on his head. Between the Carver sisters: sisters who aren’t blood but spent their lives training to be tougher than any man, more cunning, have drawn more blood from enemies than Butchers from Beef, thus their nickname “Carvers”; Solomon Red: a popular, high tempered, blood hungry Mercenary & leader of the Reds; Falcon: a sharpshooter that lives for the thrill of the kill, and many others; Drift Wood has his work cut out for him. Will he make it?

WHAT CHARACTER DO YOU PLAY AND ARE YOU ANYTHING LIKE HER?
For this project I play Eve Carver, the oldest of the Carver Twins. The twins are regarded as the best knife wielders in the West. Their reputation precedes them wherever they go. I think I share many similarities with Eve. Eve Carver moves with focus. She is serious and calculating. She knows her strengths and moves calmly to execute. She is a total perfectionist. Even more so with her knife in hand.

CAN YOU RELATE TO YOUR CHARACTER?
Yes. My preferred way to enter into a character is to start off with all of our similarities. I truly try not to focus on how we differ, because that is only going to block me from accessing my emotional truth to show their emotional life. Eve and I share a fierce desire to protect those that we love. We also are incredibly impulsive when provoked. That Eve’s underlying, motivating factor is living up to her own established sense of altruism. This characteristic is what makes up her humanity, in my opinion. She’s unpredictable as a result. I truly see that within myself as well.

DID YOU HAVE TO RESEARCH OR DO ANYTHING SPECIAL TO PREPARE FOR THE ROLE?
This role required me to incorporate my stage combat and martial arts background, so I really wanted to freshen up my basics. We were fortunate enough to have David forward time period / reference materials, i.e. music and visual suggestions in order to really establish our sense of place and time. The story so far, I know is just a fraction of what David envisions. So, with this in mind, I didn’t want to play a completed character arc. There needs to be room left open for Eve to evolve. With that said, I focused on moment to moment work and establishing the relationship, and dynamic between my sister— specifically, ‘what makes us the Carter twins’?

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED?
I was approached by my former schoolmate and close friend, David Christian, about being in the project. David and I had been talking about utilizing our martial arts and stage combat backgrounds more. He wrote Gun’s & Gold initially as part of a campaign, but it evolved to a David Christian Bailey production, and hopefully more than that someday soon!

IF YOU HAD ONE MESSAGE TO GIVE TO YOUR FANS, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
My one message to my fans would be a favorite quote of mine from my mother. She always tells me, whenever I feel that I am struggling, or not where I think I should be, that “They can delay you, but they cannot stop you.” The saying has been the fuel that has lit my fire. It’s instilled in me an immense resilience with being here by myself all these years and pursuing my career.

WE LOVE THAT! HOW CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOUR DESTINY?
Thank you, my work can be found on my IMDb @Leslie Susana Campbell and my Instagram @lehxliesusana_ for everything else.