Clairton High School Alumni

Clairton, Pennsylvania (PA)

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Toni-Leslie James

Class of 1975

TONI-LESLIE JAMES • Costume Design

TONI-LESLIE JAMES was introduced to the New York theatrical community in 1990, when her work was showcased in The Public Theater's original production of George C. Wolfe’s Spunk. This collaboration was the start of a career that has garnered Ms. James a total of twenty-seven costume design nominations or awards for her contributions to various theatrical productions including a Tony Award nomination, three Drama Desk nominations, the Hewes Design Award and three additional Hewes nominations, four Audelco Award nominations, three Lucille Lortel nominations, an N.A.A.C.P Image Award nomination, The LA Drama-Logue Award, The FANY Award, The Connecticut Critics Circle Award, a Helen Hayes Award nomination, The Denver Theatre Center Ovation Award nomination, the National Black Theater Costume Designer of the Year Award in 2011, the Irene Sharaff Young Masters Award For Costume Design Excellence and the 2009 Obie Award for Sustained Costume Design excellence.

A complete design professional, she has designed costume nationally for every entertainment venue; feature films, television, opera, dance, industrials and the sixteen Broadway productions and over 90 off-Broadway and regional theatre productions. Her Broadway productions are as follows: Lucky Guy (starring Tom Hanks), The Scottsboro Boys by John Kander, Finian’s Rainbow, Chita Rivera: A Dancer’s Life (starring Chita Rivera), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (starring Whoopi Goldberg), King Hedley II (starring Viola Davis & Leslie Uggams), One Mo' Time, The Wild Party (starring Toni Collette, Mandy Patinkin & Eartha Kitt), Marie Christine (starring Audra McDonald), Footloose, The Tempest (starring Patrick Stewart), Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Twilight: Los Angeles 1992, Angels in America: Perestroika (starring Jeffrey Wright, Stephen Spinella & Marcia Gay Harden), Angels in America: Millennium Approaches, and Jelly’s Last Jam (starring Gregory Hines). Internationally she has designed for The Royal Court Theater and The Chichester Theater Festival in England, The Athens Greek Festival 2003 and Radio Dansmark TV in Denmark. In dance and opera, Ms. James has designed for The Houston Grand Opera, The Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and Ballet Hispanico. For NBC, she designed 22 episodes of Whoopi (2003-2004), was the designer for As the World Turns for CBS Daytime (1995-1999, over 600 episodes), designed four specials for public televisions, Great Performances Series. Upcoming projects: Entwined (Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, VA, March 2013), Head of Passes (world premiere, Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago, IL, April 2013), Lucky Guy (Broadway, in previews opens April 1, 2013), The Scottsboro Boys (Ahmanson Theater, Los Angeles, CA, May 2013), Amazing Grace: A New Musical (Broadway, Fall 2014), The Scottsboro Boys (York Theatre, London, UK, October 2013).

Her design work has been displayed in nine major museum and college exhibitions including the 2006 retrospective at The American Museum of Natural History, "Designing Woman: Inside The Life And Career of Costume Designer, Toni-Leslie James" and as part of Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library exhibition, "Curtain Call: A Century of Designing Women". Her work will be featured in a design retrospectiveat her alma mater, Ohio State University, in 2014.

Tom Hanks, Courtney B. Vance, Peter Scolari, Patrick Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg, Gregory Hines, Julie Andrews, Marcia Gay Harden, Kevin Kline, Liev Schreiber, Michael C. Hall, Alec Baldwin, Charles Dutton, Bernadette Peters, Angela Bassett, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Mandy Patinkin, Toni Collette, Eartha Kitt, Mary Louise Parker, Stephen Spinella, Avery Brooks, Patty Lupone, Aunjanue Ellis, Jason Butler Harner, Keith Carradine, Hope Davis, Donna Murphy, Victoria Clark, Timothy Hutton, Vanessa Williams, Phylicia Rashaad, Peter Gallagher, Chita Rivera, Savion Glover, Zach Braff, Julie Kavner, Viola Davis, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Leslie Uggams, Tom Wophat and Jeffrey Wright are just a partial list of the talent that have worn her designs.

Ms. James is an Associate Professor and the Director of Costume Design at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. She is represented by Abrams Artists Agency in New York City.

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