Willi Ninja was born William Roscoe Leake, and he is the founder of the House of Ninja.
Dancer and choreographer
Willi was a voguing dancer, who caught the attention of Hollywood. He became a choreographer for Malcom McLaren, provided coaching runway to Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell, and served as a fashion model for Thierry Mugler and Jean Paul Gaultier.
Starring in How Do I Look
Willi didn’t come out to the balls to compete, because he felt that there was a lack of creativity and too much shade at the balls. When he heard about How Do I Look was being filmed, he learned that the director Wolfgang Busch was working with his House mother and father at the time. As a result, he started to attend some balls, and Willi met Wolfgang. Despite his attendance at balls, Willi never entered any voguing competition.
Willi and Wolfgang connected and became friends. During filming, Willi became part of the How Do I Look university education team, speaking at a How Do I Look pre-release screening with lecture at Yale University. It was during the time when Willi was diagnosed with HIV, and he told Wolfgang that he was very afraid to seek treatment, because he was afraid his name would end up on the front page of the New York Times. He told Wolfgang, "I don’t trust those queens working at those AIDS agencies." Wolfgang convinced him to seek treatment, but it was too late, and Willi passed away from AIDS on September 2, 2006, at the age of 45.
In his final days, Willi realized the importance of what Wolfgang was doing with How Do I Look. He told his House members to continue to work with Wolfgang after his passing, and they did.
Willi’s enduring quote about How Do I Look was : “Voguing has never been documented more complete.”
More about How Do I Look
Willi Ninja starred in How Do I Look, an independent vogue (dance) documentary released in 2006 that gives us a cinematic look at some of the legends, icons, and members of ballroom community that influenced pop culture around the world.
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