LINGUIST & GLOBE TROTTER
From Native Bosnian to Ancient Greek: LEJLA’s career, launched at the age of four in her native Bosnia, showcases a rich variety of performances in drama, dance, and classical piano. The daughter of a diplomat father and a journalist mother, Lejla has been exposed to numerous countries, cultures, military conflicts and dictatorships –- all of which have shaped her into the dramatic performer she is today. Lejla’s parents, avid readers and travelers, spoke a total of ten languages and believed that – “you are as many people as the number of languages you speak!” Lejla took this notion to heart and passionately embarked on a journey to add more “people” to her personality. As a result of her cosmopolitan upbringing, she is fluent in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, Russian, and Italian; understands Portuguese and Swahili; and performs in an unlimited number of languages and dialects, most recently Latin and Ancient Greek.
THEATRE ACTRESS, DANCER & PIANIST
From Shakespeare in Baghdad to Musical Award in Los Angeles: By the age of 17, Lejla had established herself as a professional actress with numerous stage credits in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. While living in Baghdad, Iraq, she received a drama award for her performances as Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and as Desdemona in Othello. Narrowly escaping the devastating war in her homeland, Lejla left Sarajevo, and after several stops along the way, ended up in Los Angeles, where she immersed herself in training with such notables as Larry Moss, Jack Stehlin, Nina Foch, Patsy Rhodenburg, Robert Easton, and Deborah Aquila, among others. Her professional performing arts credits include multilingual dramatic work in film and theater, often infused with dance performances drawing on Modern, Ballroom, Latin, Jazz, Flamenco, African Tribal, and Belly Dancing styles. In addition, her piano recital repertoire boasts pieces by Mozart, Haydn, Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, and Gershwin.
Lejla made her U.S. stage debut at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, where she played eight roles in the play In a Woman’s Voice by the respected director Theresa Larkin. Since then, Lejla’s performances have ranged from Chekhov’s Natasha in Three Sisters, with the award-winning director Jack Stehlin’s company Circus Theatricals, to Garcia Lorca’s Moon-Death in Blood Wedding. During her five-year residency with the avant-garde theatre company City Garage, Lejla performed in several noteworthy plays, including Duncombe’s Atrocities (the Russian Woman, leading role), and Fassbinder’s Garbage, the City and Death (co-starring as Violet), both directed by the award-winning director Frederique Michelle. Lejla has received outstanding reviews in the L.A. Times, LA Weekly, and Back Stage West. Her most remarkable theatre performance to date is her starring role as Colette in the critically acclaimed The Night of the Black Cat, which received the 2005 Best L.A. Musical Award. The play ran for a record 13 months at the Edgemar Center for the Arts / Larry Moss Studio.
From Earthy Whore to Elegant Queen: Equally passionate about film, and a proud member of SAG and AFTRA, Lejla has starred and co-starred in a whirlwind of over 30 independent films this past year alone. In the docudrama The Search for Caravaggio, playing both Giulia La Bella and Henriette Darricarrère, she kisses the 80-year old Pope of Borgia, belly dances while playing piano, and climbs a mountain (Hollywood Hills!) to be healed by the god Apollo. As the adulteress in Magdalena: Released from Shame, she is pushed more than 30 times in the hot sand on a summer day (while wearing a heavy black wig), take after take, until Jesus finally saves her. Her other favorite roles include Heather in Driving to Zigzigland; Elenora in What a Great Idea; Rasha in Marwa; Aida in The Small Somewhere; Gypsy in Under a Spell; Eleanor in Dr. Frank; and Sanja in Wrangling Coach Rankin. In addition, Lejla made a brief appearance in Warner Brother’s Ocean’s 13 and lent her multi-lingual voice to The Hunting Party.
WRITER, PRODUCER, ACTIVIST & CEO
From Wars and Dictatorships to Human Rights and Bunnies: Lejla’s talents as an actress and dancer are uniquely complemented by her impressive accomplishments in the world of academia and in business. Lejla is a graduate of the Annenberg School of Communication, the School of Cinema and Television, and the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. Inquisitive and indefatigable, Lejla continues to strive toward ambitious objectives. She is writing a series of compelling stories – the ones left untold by prime-time TV correspondents – drawn from her experience in living through tumultuous times in Bosnia, Iraq, and other hot spots around the world. She is in the preproduction stages of several feature-film projects with powerful messages intended to raise awareness of ethnicity and gender issues that so often lead to brutal discrimination and genocide, as well as awareness of the atrocities conducted on animals in the name of fashion and scientific research. A vegetarian since the age of 17, she has vowed to do her part in changing people’s perception to the planet’s voiceless inhabitants. Lejla is a member of Women's Leadership Council, PETA, and several other organizations that support women, children, and animals. She is a 2005 recipient of the U.S. Green Card on the basis of “extraordinary ability” and is the founder and CEO of two U.S.-based companies – but that’s another life, another bio, and another website! Lejla lives in Los Angeles, California, with her ten pet bunny rabbits: Lucky, Lani, Leeno, Leith, Lolito, Lola, Luna, Lea, Lamar, and Lilly.
Lejla is fond of saying, “My life is better than a movie…if only I could sleep more than four hours a day!”