Franklin Leonard is founder and CEO of The Black List, an annual report on the most popular unproduced screenplays in Hollywood. Before participating in a discussion of the lack of diversity onscreen in America today, he talked about lasagna and soccer—as well as his favorite still-unproduced Black List script—in the Zócalo green room.
It’s your last meal; what do you eat?
A really good lasagna. From where, I have no idea, but a really good lasagna would probably hit the spot. And a Coca-Cola. And a coconut cream pie for dessert.
Did you have any nicknames as a kid?
I got called “Urkel” a lot, which I hated at the time, but in retrospect I get it.
Describe yourself in five words or less.
Introvert. Opinionated. Homebody. Progressive. Neurotic.
What’s your favorite spectator sport?
Soccer. That’s easy.
Who’s your favorite player?
Didier Drogba [of Chelsea].
What is your favorite Black List screenplay that hasn’t gotten made?
It’s called Jackie, by Noah Oppenheim. It’s a biopic of Jackie Kennedy. It begins with the assassination and ends with the funeral.
What is the most surprising Black List screenplay that did get made?
Lars and the Real Girl or Slumdog Millionaire. Just based on the scripts, those two on their face were unlikely movies to get funded.
What do you wake up to?
Usually my dog whining to go out. It’s like, “Wake up you idiot, it’s time to go.” Also, my iPhone alarm.
If you could live in any other time, past or future, when would you choose?
I’m pretty cool with right now, honestly. I feel like so much is changing so rapidly that it’s a really exciting time to be alive. I also think sort of traveling historically is difficult for black people for myriad reasons. I might’ve been psyched for 1920s Harlem. And who knows what the future will bring.
What’s the most important lesson you learned as an analyst for McKinsey, where you worked before coming to Hollywood?
To be really strategic and analytical in my thinking.