Leila Afua Djansi born on July 17, 1981 is an American and Ghanaian filmmaker who started her film career in the Ghana film industry.
Leila Djansi was born Leila Afua Djansi on July 17, 1981. Her father was a pilot and her mother a Senior Nursing officer. She grew up in India and Ghana. Although acting and writing were her hobbies, her career ambition was to become a gynecologist, a plan which later changed when she developed an interest in forensics. Ready to delve into the field of criminology, another career change occurred when she met the Ghanaian actor Sam Odoi who convinced her to write a script for him. Leila was 19 years old when her script Babina was made into a movie by Producer Akwetey Kanyi
She attended the Kabore Primary and JSS, Mawuli School for primary, junior and secondary education respectively all located in Ho, in the Volta Region of Ghana.
She began her film education at the National Film and Television School, but left Ghana for the United States to continue her Film and Television Degree at Savannah College of Art and Design on an artistic Honors Scholarship.
President of the Ghana Library Board Readers club for three years, her sojourn in the industry began when she was a runner-up in a regional beauty pageant in 1998.
She took a job with Socrates Safo’s Movie Africa Productions where she worked as a Writer/Line Producer. Whilst with the company, she wrote Ghana’s first Gay/Lesbian rights screenplay The Sisterhood, the film that included the late Ghanaian screen actress Suzzy Williams. Djansi worked with the state owned Gama Film Company, where she wrote and produced Legacy of love.
In the United States, she established Turning Point Pictures, an independent production company geared towards social issue films.
Djansi’s first film was awarded a 2009 worldFest Platinum Award for the film Grass Between My Lips, a story of female circumcision and early marriage, set in a northern Ghana village. In 2010, her debut feature, I Sing of a Well was nominated for 11 African Movie Academy Awards. The film won 3 awards: Best Sound, Best Costume and the Jury Special Award for Over-All Best Film. In 2011, Djansi was presented with the BAFTA/LA Pan African Film Festival Choice Award for the film I Sing of a Well.
Djansi’s 2011 film Sinking Sands received 10 African Movie Academy Award nominations, with Ama K Abebrese winning the Best Actress Award and Djansi earning the Best Original Screenplay Award. At the first Ghana Movie Awards in 2011, Djansi’s Sinking Sands received awards for “Best Art Direction”, “Best Costume”, “Best West African Film” and “Best Picture”. Sinking Sands was nominated in 14 categories.
Djansi 3rd directorial effort Ties That Bind received a Black Reel Awards Nomination in 2012. The film also won the Best Diaspora film at the 2012 San Diego Black Film Festival.
In 2016, Leila Djansi directed Like Cotton Twines an exploration of the practice of Trokosi in her native country of Ghana. The film was nominated for “Best World Fiction Film” at the Los Angeles Film Festival
Djansi’s work and contribution to the Ghana film industry has been recognized by UNiFEM Ghana, The African Women Development Fund, The Ghana Musicians Association and other social issue minded communities.