LOS ANGELES, Calif. - (July 6, 2020) – If you loved season 1 of Carl Weber’s “The Family Business” on BET, season 2 debuted on Thursday, July 2, starring Hampton University’s very own Javicia Leslie, class of 2009. Leslie plays Paris Duncan, the youngest daughter in the Duncan family, who are an upstanding, tightknit family that, by day, owns and operates an exotic car dealership in New York. By night, their business activities are more exotic in nature.
“I love playing Paris. It’s been really exciting because she’s so different than the other characters I’ve played. She can do nothing wrong. There’s no such thing as too much for her character. I have a lot of fun playing her. She shoots people but she’s also powerful and sexy. I don’t think a lot of Black women get to play a role like that,” Leslie said.
“We are very proud of Javicia’s achievements. Ms. Leslie is a part of the next generation of talented Hamptionians who are making lasting impressions in Hollywood. She is smart, savvy, accomplished, and we want to wish her continued success in the future,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey.
Born in Germany to military parents, Leslie was primarily raised in Prince Georges County, Maryland. She started performing early on in talent shows, going on to perform leading roles in plays and live poems, while keeping up with an early love for fitness in track. She started at Hampton University in 2005 as a business management major, where she appeared in several theatrical productions, such as “Seven Guitars,” “For Colored Girls,” and “Chicago.” While at Hampton, she was a student leader, participated in pageants and was even crowned Miss Hampton in 2007.
“My experience at Hampton was amazing and the networking that has followed me by being an alum is priceless. I went to an audition a few weeks ago and the writer was a Hamptonian. I’ve seen writers, directors, and other actors that are from Hampton. The Hampton connection is real and I just love that,” Leslie said.
After graduation, Leslie worked in Washington D.C. for a while, helping soldiers and their families while producing her own play. She soon landed an agent, packed up her things and headed out to Los Angeles.
Her first stream of work began as the lead for the television film, “Killer Coach,” a Lifetime movie. In 2017, she landed the role as Paris Duncan in “The Family Business,” based on the NY Times best-selling author, Carl Weber. In 2019, Leslie landed the lead role for the Yvette Nicole Brown penned romantic comedy “Always a Bridesmaid” on BET and Netflix. She also stars in the series “God Friended Me,” on CBS about an atheist whose life is turned upside down when God adds him as a friend on Facebook. Leslie plays Ali Finer, the bright, compassionate and opinionated younger sister of Miles, the main character.
“’Always a Bridesmaid’ was an amazing project to be part of. That was with the same studio as ‘Family Business’ so when they were pitching the project to BET, I was one of the names that came up. The writer, Yvette Nicole Brown had worked with Brandon Micheal Hall, who I worked with in ‘God Friended Me’ so there’s a connection between us all,” Leslie said. “We shot the movie last year for six weeks, then it was brought to a bunch of different film festivals. BET showed it for about six months before Netflix picked it up in January. It’s just been amazing.”
Often times, Leslie gets asked advice about how to be a successful actor. “My advice for actors, especially at Hampton, is to utilize your network. Make sure you take advantage of your hometown before you move to LA or New York. Find cheaper head shots and classes. Take advantage of those things in your area. Put together a reel and resume before you move. Also, do your research. There are amazing websites out there that show you what’s going on in the business, such as Actors Access and backstage.com. When you do your own research, you know it because it comes from a truth, not just something someone tells you,” Leslie said. “Look for small, independent projects to be part of. Think big, but use the smaller projects to fill up your resume and show who you are. Use YouTube, Instagram and other platforms to create and write your own stuff. Collaborate with your peers, and you will end up being the generation of actors that work together.”
Due to the pandemic, filming for the season finale of “The Family Business” had to be halted. “We still have about six weeks left to shoot,” Leslie said. During this downtime, Leslie is continuing to audition and network. She is also working on creating a cooking web show.