Allison Kugel: So, you’re on the set of the Like a Prayer video with Madonna, and you had to know this was going to be a controversial video, or that it would at least spark a major conversation about race and about religion. What were you thinking when you were making the video?
Leon: First of, I have to tell you, one of the things that made me want to do the video when I was talking with Mary Lambert, and I said to her, “Well let me hear the song.” I heard the song, and I was thinking, “Wow, this song sounds like it’s going to be number one.” I then said, “Let me get this right. You want me to act?” She said, “Yes. I need you to play two different characters and I need an actor for this.” That’s when it clicked, and I got it. I said, “I’m going to be acting in the video, and Madonna will have me come to life and Madonna will adore me? Yeah, okay I got it. I can see me doing this (laughs).
Allison Kugel: I get it now. Okay. So, they basically twisted your arm (laughs)…
Leon: Things had to come together for me to see the vision, you know? When I’m on the set and I realize the level of production and how good this is going to be, all the metaphors in the video, I knew at that time that this was Madonna’s comeback, and this is a number one song. I know it would be the lead off story of every entertainment section. What I didn’t know is it would be the lead off story of everything; not just the entertainment sections, but the front of the newspapers and the first story on the news.
Allison Kugel: It’s the late 80s and it sounds comical to say this now, but I remember news people discussing your interracial kiss with Madonna. That sounds so crazy now, right? But we’re going back over thirty years ago, and it was a big deal back then.
Leon: Not to say it wasn’t a big deal, but I don’t think that the interracial kiss was that big of a deal.
Read the full interview at San Diego Entertainer Magazine