This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
My name is Leland and I am a screenwriter.
I started getting interested in screenwriting basically out of boredom. I felt like I had a story that needed to be told and—side tangent—I've always been a huge fan of musical theater. I felt like if I was going to tell a story, there would have to be some sort of musical component to it. So, I kind of zeroed in on one of my favorite pop artists. It’s one of the only pop artists that I’ll listen to, her name’s Robyn. And I told an unconventional love story using Robyn’s songs.
When did you know you could do this for real?
I think the point where I realized I wanted to do this happened maybe five pages into writing. I had never written a screenplay before in my life. I just googled how to do it. I had written a stage play before, but never a screenplay, so I had to learn all the ins and outs of that. Once I got to the fifth page of what I was doing, I was like, Okay, this is actually so fun and it’s just flowing out of me.
I have a good friend, her name is Natasha Khan. She also goes by Bat for Lashes. She’s an incredible musician and she was the main driving force behind my Robyn-inspired musical screenplay. She thought it was an excellent idea. I just casually mentioned it to her and she’s like, “You have to do this.” And I was like, “Oh okay, I’ll do this, fine.”
Never compare yourself to anyone else. What comes from you is good enough, and you’ll never be anyone else. So why not spend time and energy cultivating who you are?
What would you say to young Leland?
I would tell young Leland that the people who suppress you and the people who make you feel the worst about yourself, they’re nothing. They’re nothing. And not to let it bother you. Just keep being yourself because that is what is going to attract the most amazing people. Never compare yourself to anyone else. What comes from you is good enough, and you’ll never be anyone else. So why not spend time and energy cultivating who you are?
What does creativity mean to you?
To me, creativity means without boundaries. There’s no right or wrong way to do something. I think that’s one of the most appealing things about being a creative, or being able to express yourself creatively: No one can tell you whether you’re doing it right or wrong. It just is. That’s what creativity means to me.
What makes you come alive?
I believe that it would 100% be creativity. Since I was a little lad, singing was always something that made me feel like I was coming alive. Music, in general, makes me feel like I’m coming alive. It feels safe while also feeling absolutely, terribly vulnerable. I think that’s it.
This interview was conducted on October 29th, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.