Connextions Magazine gets personal with Eduard Leonard, member of the Overtone Band and star of E!’s TV series "Mrs. Eastwood & Company."
"Nothing is more important to me than family – no matter how you define that," said Dina Eastwood. "People might be surprised by how we live our lives and our unconventional approach, and I also believe that it's hard not to fall in love with my band, 'Overtone.'"
"I'm really proud of my family," adds Clint Eastwood. "They are a constant source of inspiration and entertainment."
CM: How did you meet Dina and Clint?
Eduard: Clint and Dina were in Cape Town, South Africa during the filming of Invictus in early 2009. Our group, Overtone, was performing a Queen tribute show called "Killer Queen," during the same time. One night Dina and some friends went on a "girls' night out," when she happened to pick up a flyer from the sidewalk promoting "Killer Queen" and they decided to attend a show. After the show, Dina approached us and said she would like to book a private show for the cast and crew which included Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman and of course Clint. Later that week we performed for them and that was where we first met Clint.
CM: What has been the best and worst part about leaving South Africa and moving to California?
Eduard: The worst part is most definitely leaving my family and friends behind. I am part of a tiny close family and a very close knit circle of friends. Coming here felt like I had my whole support structure pulled from under me. The best part is having a whole new world open for me, not only opportunity wise but also in my frame of reference. Here I can truly start a new, free life.
CM: What new experiences have you had since moving to California?
Eduard: West Hollywood and the San Francisco Pride was a culture shock to say the least. The way people live and let live is truly
inspiring. The Vegetarian friendliness is also a great surprise.
CM: What made you decide that you wanted to pursue music as a career?
Eduard: I’ve been performing in some way or another since I was very young. I have been singing for as long as I remember. The first time I sang alone was at a high school talent show and the response I got from the audience also was a determining factor of whether I had "it" or not. I developed a true passion for singing while in the choirs I've been part of. Singing at the Mozart Requiem in St. Petersburg with the University of Johannesburg Choir sealed the deal for me.
CM: How would you describe your place and function in Overtone?
Eduard: I am one of the front men of the group. I sing tenor or soprano when I'm not singing lead. I am also a total clown and the
philanthropist of the group. I also handle all the social networking (remember to follow @overtoneband on Twitter).
CM: What is it about your personality that helped you and your band mates stick together and thrive?
Eduard: We all have mutual respect for each other. Being the comic relief and having the ability cook I think helped as well.
CM: How many languages do you speak?
Eduard: I am fluent in Afrikaans and English. I can get my way around German and Dutch and I'm busy learning Hebrew and Spanish.
CM: What helped you decide to 'come out' and who was it hardest to tell?
Eduard: Truthfully I'm still in the process of coming out. Not everyone in South Africa knows yet. It was hard to tell my mom, even though I knew she would never cut me out of her life. I think every son who has a close relationship with his mom feels afraid to disappoint her in any way. Dina has been helping me with the process ever since I told her. She has helped me to realize that I can, as she would say: "exist in your normal state." I also have friends back in South Africa who have been behind me all the way.
CM: How did your band mates and your new family react to you coming out?
Eduard: There have been some hiccups in the band but you cannot expect everyone to shift their mindset overnight. However, now things are very comfortable. As for Dina, her brother Dominic, Clint's daughters Francesca and Morgan (all of whom are featured in "Mrs. Eastwood & Company" premiering Sunday, May 20th at 10pm ET/ PT on E!), I've experienced nothing but support from them. I had this misconception that Clint is very old school and might not understand, but then he directed "J Edgar" where he worked with Dustin Lance Black, and I saw a new side of him that made me respect him even more.
CM: How have your fans responded to you coming out?
Eduard: I'm still in the process of coming out publicly. I have yet to find out what their response will be. Hoping for love.
CM: Do you have any words of wisdom for others in similar situations?
Eduard: Freedom is bigger than fear. Be true to yourself. Give people time to come around as you might be pleasantly surprised at how much deeper your relationship with them can become. Don't be hard on yourself. Those who choose not to understand, choose to remain uneducated. The problem isn't with you, it’s a reflection of their own insecurities and fears. Inevitably you want true
friends and loved ones who love you no matter what. Love yourself first and love will find its way to you.
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