Actress Leslie Susana Campbell has made her directorial debut with a personal story titled “Yu-Yi”.

The Los Angeles-based Bahamian actress recently wrapped filming the LGBTQ drama that is hitting the film festival circuit. We caught up with Leslie to talk all things “Yu-Yi”.



Welcome! What is your new movie “Yu-Yi” about?

“Yu-Yi’ is a raw and poignant exchange when a person confronts their friend about the challenges of coming out, the complexities of evolving feelings, struggles with identity and navigating feelings of attraction. Unresolved tensions and misunderstandings come to light as unspoken truths surface. Complexities around friendship, communication, acceptance, and ultimately, the inability to bridge the gap leads to a poignant decision that redefines their shared narrative.

What does Yu-Yi mean?

The phrase denotes one’s ‘longing to feel intensely again’. I felt that this title really encapsulated the essence of this project, and the nature of navigating the evolution of oneself. There is a grieving process. This grief can feel cloudy. While in it, I definitely longed to go to a space where I could feel freely, and safely again. 

When did you come up with the concept?

I am the creator of this project. The idea was born several months ago. I wrote the first draft of the screenplay several months ago. At the time, it was a completely different idea, and much less clear in its direction. I completed the penultimate draft early this year. I didn't have the courage and resources to bring this film to life until recently. I am an artist that very much believes in using my experiences to further highlight the human condition. What I’ve lived through, and experienced, can very well be a vehicle for storytelling, discussion, and introspection. Conceptualizing this idea was the most challenging aspect of this film. What message am I trying to deliver? How does one take a memory, a moment, an instance, and convert it into something cinematic? Thankfully, I had many talented artists and friends to help me supersede these challenges.

From actress to director – this is quite the accomplishment!

Thank you, I didn’t really plan for this specific project to be my directorial debut. I knew I wanted to direct my own project this year. It was a goal I honestly thought I would accomplish later in the year. Circumstances aligned, and I knew that I wanted my first project to be a personal one. The decision to bring Yu-Yi to life came about specifically because it is an homage to my new self. I am beyond connected to this project; I am living it. I feel very proud to be in a space where I can use myself, and my training, to share stories. 

How did it feel to play yourself as a real person in the movie?

This role was quite a unique experience. I “play” myself in this film. What is really interesting is that I play myself at a specific moment in time in my life. I am no longer in that place of my life. I found myself navigating the ways in which I am the same, and the ways I am no longer, in an acutely more specific and challenging way. It was interesting handling the dynamics of these two things being true.

Did you find it a challenge to play yourself?

It was very challenging, and for many reasons. What was most difficult was bringing down my internal resistance to feeling such a painful experience once more. 

I had to tweak my personal process of getting into character as well. This was the first time I didn’t follow my usual method of discovering a character. For example, I always create a Bio of some kind. This time around, I had the advantage of already knowing my character’s personal and intimate history. I know myself better than anyone. There were a lot of advantages to this. The most important one being time. I had more time to focus on preparing myself to emotionally reveal my experience at a time in my life that I kept hidden from everyone.

On a technical note, I knew that the script was unique in that it is mostly V.O. I knew my choices on screen needed to reflect my character’s inner world. But there needed to be a high degree of emotional accuracy. How I portray my character needed to align with what was pre-recorded. Or, at the very least, supplement my pre-set vocal choices.

Introspection, followed by relaxation were truly my two main tools of preparation for this project.

Can you share any fun facts from the whole process?

It was funny having to switch between my director’s hat, actor’s hat, producer’s hat, production designer’s hat, and costume designer’s hat at any given moment. It was especially fun to be in front of the camera calling ‘Action!”, and ‘Cut!’ for myself. 

The final shot of the film came about in an impromptu manner. Gray, the DP, had the instinct to adjust the focus between my reflection on my character’s phone, and the final frame of the video displayed on said phone. I made a supplementary decision to have a black photo lined up so that as soon as the final action happens, the entirety of my face (as a reflection) can be seen. As the actor, I was then able to play with delivering my character’s final moment on screen (and on a screen!). All of this took place in mere seconds! I truly felt the beauty of the nature of collaboration and filmmaking in that take.  

How can we see the movie?

I am very proud of the movie and look forward to sharing it on the film festival circuit. 

How can people follow your journey?

People can check me out on my IMDb and my Instagram for everything else.




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