“You go to high school, you get your diploma… you go to college and get your degree. After, you get your 9 to 5 with benefits,” Leland B. Martin, star of BET’s Boomerang, explains society’s cycle that so many of us have found ourselves in. “I did everything I was supposed to do. I got a job in finance and felt like I was on my way, but there was no passion… there was no love,” Martin further confesses. His story, like so many of ours, is a story of dreams, staleness, fear, and the possibilities of creating the life you want for yourself. The New Jersey native, who grew up wanting to play in the NBA, got his start in Hollywood by chance. A simple lunch break turned into Leland’s early beginnings into acting, when a casting was being held next to the deli he often visited. “The casting director couldn’t book me because I did not have any experience…but she went on to offer me acting lessons twice a week,” Leland says. That chance encounter and that courage to step inside the audition was the push that told Leland to find his passion and follow it. “The classes gave me a sense of direction… from there I fell in love with the craft of acting.”
Now, Leland’s story continues as he finds himself on one of prime time’s biggest shows. From Hollywood heavy hitters, Lena Waithe and Oscar winner Halle Berry, comes Boomerang, a continuation of the hit 90’s film that starred Halle Berry and Eddie Murphy. On the show, Leland plays Ari, a bi-sexual aspiring director, who is unapologetically himself. Now in its second season, Boomerang continues to tell the Black millennial experience. “I love the fact that I get to represent the bisexual community with such an important role… it helps show those who do not usually see themselves represented in this capacity,” Martin explains. That allyship, in the beginning, did come with nerves, but Leland credits the trust he has in Lena helped him feel more secure with taking on this role. “I knew this was going to be really good… I knew it would have meaning and substance,” Leland says about his breakout role.
Boomerang continues to help move the culture forward by telling stories that help us grow, and as season 2 progresses viewers will see Leland’s character address toxic masculinity, a story arc that he says has helped him with his own growth. “You will see things Ari has to deal with as far as his own hyper-masculinity. You will see cracks in his armor,” Martin says. “You will see some of my own triggers through Ari, as well as our inner workings,” as he continues, drawing minor comparisons to his character.
Wanting to also write, direct, and produce, Leland knows the importance of creating his own lane, while helping others see themselves on screen. Hollywood’s rising star continues to build, letting fear push him closer and closer to his dreams, instead of letting it deter him. “You can't allow fear to stop you, but at the same time, you want enough of it to wake you up every now and again. I like when I get a little bit nervous, a little bit anxious. It lets me know that the moment is crucial and to stay focused,” Martin explains his relationship with fear. That mindset shows why this is Leland’s moment. The man who did what the cycle of society told him to do, broke free and began to write, direct, and produce his own story, and we all are witnessing it unfold before our very eyes. Catch Boomerang Wednesday nights at 10:30 pm, only on BET.