as Morgan Oliver
as Dean Kagan
as Lane Williams
as Peg Oliver
as Dr. Thomas
as Ernesto Martin
Leo Minaya was born on an airplane and he has been making headlines ever since. He grew up with his single mother and four siblings in Washington Heights in New York City. Leo never allowed his environment to weigh him down, and his imagination provided the outlet he needed to escape the hard times. “Leo was a special child filled with light,” says his mother. “Growing up he was always the center of attention and admired.” Leo wrote, directed, and produced his first play in 5th grade!
By the time he was in middle school, it was clear he was going to be an actor. Leo remembers, “The day I knew acting was going to be my life, I was cast as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet in junior high. I remember loving the rush I got from performing in front of the entire school. I was so nervous at the end because I knew my reputation was on the line, but my fear quickly vanished as the crowd went wild and gave me a standing ovation. I was hooked... it was a great moment in my life.”
Leo then attended a performing arts high school and began his professional acting career. His first audition landed him a role in the feature film Manito, which became one of the most talked about Sundance films of the year garnering the cast the best ensemble acting award. Critics took notice of Leo. Roger Ebert declared, “If there’s any justice we will see more of Leo Minaya.” An article in Maxim singled Leo out noting, “Minaya’s performance has gained him critical acclaim, positioning him as someone to keep your eye on.” Leo returned to Sundance with his next film How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer, starring Elizabeth Peña, in which he played America Ferrera’s love interest.
When Leo landed the title role in Morgan, he knew it was his most challenging role to date. Working with a director like Michael Akers and playing a paraplegic was the opportunity he was looking for. “The producer gave me this old rickety wheelchair. I took it home and lived in it for 2 weeks. I learned how to get in and out of bed and basically do everything using only my arms,” Leo explains. “I think I drove my girlfriend crazy, but it really paid off. In the scene where I’m climbing up the cliff, I’m really climbing and I only allowed myself to use my arms. Authenticity is the most important thing to me as an actor.”