Hello world. I’d like to introduce you to a fellow Miami Hurricane fan that happens to be doing something so powerful off the field that I felt compelled to write about it and share with you here. If you’ll allow me the time, I assure you it’ll be worth the read.
Joshua Leonard is a Miami born animator, cartoon artist, and character designer that is filing a void that exists because society at large is taught to stereotype people. He has a fully fleshed out concept for a cartoon series that I expect will be on the televisions in your home, and on the mobile devices in your hands soon. His cartoon is about a group of pint-sized kids who have a special need, but that have also been blessed with superpowers.
I spent time interviewing Joshua over the last week and what follows is some of that dialogue.
So Josh, I understand you’re from Miami... tell me a little about your backstory… where in Miami are you from, did you play any sports coming up, and how’d you become a Miami Hurricane fan?
Well, I was born in Homestead, FL and my Father was in the military. After Hurricane Andrew, we moved to Alaska, then Maryland, and then Biloxi, MS. After Hurricane Katrina hit, I was homeless and was evacuated to Atlanta, GA where still I reside today.
I became a Miami fan when I was a young kid. My dad got me a Hurricanes shirt, and as I got older I just liked everything about the Canes and how tough they were. I loved how one team changed all the rules in college football... lol.
I’m obviously biased to the @MiamiHurricanes, but I’m also truly excited for these players at the combine. To work your whole life towards something, and seeing it come to fruition is a beautiful thing. Congrats to everybody (Especially ALL my Cane Gang) lol #NFLCombine19— Joshua Leonard (@Joshua__Leonard) March 4, 2019
I’m the youngest of 3 boys, and I come from an athletic background. I played football, baseball, basketball, track, etc... I had track and football scholarship offers, and was getting recruited in baseball at a young age. I was always an artist, and I loved animation, so while I while I was playing sports I would still find time to continue drawing. In my senior year, I hyperextended my knee during a game, and it changed the trajectory of my life. I was able to bounce back from the injury later in the season, but by then I was torn between football, track, and art. I finished high school, and in 2005 I started training for the 2008 Olympics (boxing).
Wow. You’ve dealt with some serious adversity in your life. Can you share how have you been able to overcome those challenges?
Yes I have, and I’m extremely thankful for that adversity. It’s made me stronger and more focused. I could’ve given up while I was homeless, or when my best friend was killed, but I used all of that as motivation. My tenacity changed, and I just wanted to make my friends and family proud of me. I stopped making excuses, and started to make sacrifices. I worked 2 jobs, full-time, and went to school full-time. I sacrificed, I worked hard, and I was able to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts from the Art Institute of Atlanta with a 4.0 GPA. I’ve always been very competitive, so I wanted people to know I wasn’t playing around.
Man, that is amazing testimony... You mentioned your friend was killed during that time, can you share how and why you’ve tied that in to Team Supreme?
Yeah, my main character, Dr. Jackson, is based on my best friend Brent Jackson. He was killed in 2008. We came up together playing sports, and he knew about my love for art and always supported me so I wanted honor his memory and keep his name alive. That was really important to me.
April 13 will never be easy, but I’ll make sure they never forget. Brent loved everybody, so I had to make him the protector of these super kids. Rest easy, Superman. #teamsupremecartoon #toonboom pic.twitter.com/vg6SXL4S9i— Joshua Leonard (@Joshua__Leonard) April 13, 2019
That’s very noble of you... We will all have mountains to climb, so what advice do you have for others that may be going through similar struggles?
My advice for someone who may be going through something similar would be to never give up, and never doubt your ability. Those hard times will be appreciated in the end when you’re a huge success.
Big shoutout to DJ Williams and DymeLyfe because he was one of the first clients to reach out to me about some artwork while I was a freshman in school. I designed a few illustrations for them, and I’m really appreciative of what they did for me. I’m excited for the opportunity to do more! I’ve since worked for Nickelodeon doing character design, and I’ve also done work for former ‘Canes Rashad Butler and Duke Johnson just to name a few. Go Canes!
What kind of feedback have you received when you explain the Team Supreme concept? The feedback I’ve gotten for Team Supreme has been overwhelming, and from literally every walk of life, which is what I envisioned. I get a ton of emails from supporters who were in tears when they read about a Team Supreme feature, or who saw an interview I’ve given.
How does that make you feel?
Extremely humbled... I’m extremely humbled. I’ve received overwhelming support from people all over the world. I’ve gotten love from Africa, Australia, China, etc... It’s such a blessing and I’m truly grateful.
Where are you in the process right now?
The series is currently in the development process, where I’m working with Hillman Grad (Lena Waithe’s production company), and Jason Weaver from the original Lion King. The writing process will begin soon, and then we will complete casting for the series.
Team Supreme is coming, it just takes longer when dealing with sensitive topics. We are consulting with people who actually have these disabilities, and medical differences to make sure everything is true to life. ☺️ #teamsupremecartoon #toonboom pic.twitter.com/cS3MO6ZavB— Joshua Leonard (@Joshua__Leonard) April 11, 2019
What do you expect to come from Team Supreme, and how can people learn more about you and Team Supreme?
I hope Team Supreme changes the world, and the way people see a “difference” in others because at the end of the day we’re all the same. I also want to use this medium to educate those who don’t have special needs, especially children, so they are informed on the subject and are inclusive of those with special needs in their community.
Is there anything else you’d like to discuss?
I just want to extend a big thank you to you personally, and to State Of The U for using your platform to share my story and my cartoon with your readers. I am encouraged anytime someone takes the time to learn more about such an important topic, and you guys have gone above and beyond by sharing this with those in your network.
Thank you, and Go ‘Canes!
Joshua, we thank you for your time as well, and we will be rooting for your continued success brother.
This is, The New Miami. #TNM
Meet Some Of The Characters Of Team Supreme
Dr. Jackson is a brilliant doctor who founded the secret Team Supreme program.
- Biological father of Zeek and Sweet Pea.
- Living with Epilepsy
Zeek, the main super hero character, is an honest & straightforward young boy that was born with Autism.
- He has trouble engaging sometimes in social interactions, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want friends. He is fascinated with all puzzles, codes, and ciphers. Most things are black and white for him, true or false; making ambiguous decisions challenging.
- Superpower: Extreme Memory and intellect. Solves puzzles, and his mind sees everything in detail, which sometimes leads to sensory overload and he needs to take a break.
Li is a witty, Asian American girl who was born blind.
- Superpower: She is extremely quick, and all of her other senses have been enhanced due to Cross-Modal Neuroplasticity, which happens when the brain is deprived of input from one sensory modality so it compensates by reorganizing itself to support and augment other senses.
Sweat Pea is the youngest out of the team, but you couldn’t tell. She’s Zeek’s little sister.
- She has Sickle Cell disease which is caused by a mutation in her red blood cells that cause her red blood cells to change their shape into a ‘sickle’. This can cause a lot of muscle pains and at times can be unbearable without medication.
- Superpower: “Melting others hearts.” She can manipulate minds to make any adult or child more loving, understanding, and humble.
Mech was born with Spina Bifida, which is a malformation of the spinal cord. This spinal cord abnormality is the reason why he cannot walk.
- Superpower: When not playing video games, or googling weird science films, he loves to build gadgets. These inventions, robots, and devices help the Team Supreme crew fight against their enemies.
Thumper was born prematurely without the ability to hear. He is fascinated with bodybuilding and hip-hop. That’s right, hip-hop music. Even though he can’t hear it, he can feel the vibrations (vibe).
- Superpower: Synesthesia, the power to see sound. He can feel vibrations and visualize conversations and impending danger.
Anika is an amazing therapist who helps Dr. Jackson with the kids. She loves teaching, and assisting them while they are fighting crime.
That wraps up our piece on Joshua Leonard and Team Supreme. Thank you for learning.
Do you know of anyone that may be interested in this show?
Lets us know in the comment section below.