Changing the Game With Pro Snowboarder Leanne Pelosi

Author: Kristen McCloud

Pro-snowboarder, filmmaker, and all-around inspirational BISH Leanne Pelosi is changing the game for female athletes. The Whistler-based adventuress is known around the world for her prowess as a competitive snowboarder, and recently she's also been hard at work documenting the successes and journeys of female athletes through filmmaking. From being a pro athlete herself, to creating projects that share stories of female empowerment, Leanne is committed to promoting equality in sport. We chatted with her about her life as an athlete and a few cool projects she has in the works. Check it out below!

What do you love about snowboarding?
Snowboarding has been the source of connection to so many great places and people. I’ve realized that the mountains are where I’ve learned the most about myself. It’s where I’ve been scared and conquered fear, it’s where I find the most joy, and also where I’m most connected to nature. I guess I just love being plugged into my intuition and experiencing some crazy stuff while living in the now.

Who are some athletes who inspired you when you were starting out?
I have always been inspired by style. Tara Dakides, a pioneer of snowboarding, inspired me the most because she broke down gender stereotypes in the snowboard industry. I watched her in the Mack Dawg videos as the only woman to appear year after year, and thought, "She’s doing the same tricks the guys are!" Watching a woman with that much power and influence inspired me so much to follow in her footsteps.

I wanted to figure out how to live this lifestyle for the rest of my life but it wasn’t quite realistic in my eyes until I saw Tara having the backing of sponsors and the industry believing that it could be done.

Where is your absolute fave place to ride?
Whistler! Alaska and Mount Seymour, Baker’s up there too.

As well as being a successful competitive athlete, you’ve also become involved in the direction and production of a lot of films. What sparked your interest in the world of film?
My dad always had a camera around the house so, at an early age, I was around to watch him make home videos. I think that subconsciously translated into thinking I could make snowboard videos.

If you think about films in general, anytime you watch a good movie, it stays with you in your heart and soul. I used to get lost in a dream world watching snowboard movies over and over, burning the VHS tapes out. So when it came to me directing and producing Full Moon, there was something rewarding about creating a film that encompassed all the feels.

"I can’t say enough that it’s so important to showcase real women athletes in media...My wish is for more brands to start collaborating with more female athletes."

Tell us more about Full Moon, your project focusing on women’s snowboarding. What inspired the film?
I wanted to connect the past, present, and future of the sport and showcase the arm’s length connection between everyone. That hadn’t been done before, and it was really inspirational for all of us women to share the stoke on our sport. One of the highlights from making the movie was actually getting everyone together in one place. Jeff Pensiero, the owner at a cat boarding operation called Baldface, graciously invited our entire crew to come out and film. I’ll never forget the memories from that trip. It was so special.

Tell us a little about the skate series you’re working on currently, @kickfliptheseries?
I just recently directed a women’s animated skate TV show with all of the best women skateboarders a few weeks ago (Lacey Baker, Nora Vasconcellos, Cara Beth Burnside, Samarria Brevaria, and Brighton Zeuner). A big thanks goes out to Derek Westerlund from Freeride Entertainment and Ashley Ramsay at Yeti Farm for giving me a dream opportunity to work in skateboarding for my first time. Kick Flip the series is going to be a really cool project, aimed at 5 to 15-year-olds. Every episode has a different life theme as inspiration for kids to reflect on. I think it is a step in the right direction to use these women as role models for younger kids.

How do you think things have changed for female athletes over the years?
Equality continues to be a big topic for female athletes. Media plays a big part in shaping how girls and guys perceive women in sport. It’s a full circle; if media gives females the recognition they deserve, there will be more participation, more opportunity, and more support from both men and women.

What still needs to change?
I can’t say enough that it’s so important to showcase real women athletes in media for all young girls to aspire to follow. My wish is for more brands to start collaborating with more female athletes. It’s only going to feed inspiration and credibility that will foster growth within action sports and beyond. With all the societal pressures that are out there for young girls, the best thing for their confidence and self-empowerment is to have some sort of tangible inspiration.

You’ve already accomplished so many cool things! What other goals are on your radar?
Thank you! I just want to keep on connecting good people and sending good vibes into the universe with Runway Films. We have some exciting projects in the works and I’m always interested in collaborating with other creatives to keep the energy flowing.

When you’re not snowboarding or working on a project, what else are you most likely doing?
Surfing, camping, looking for a rescue dog, and this summer… working on building a tiny cabin on Vancouver Island.

What does MISSBISH mean to you?
Girl Squad Goals.

Who is your MISSBISH?
A few of my MISSBISHes: my mom, Marie France Roy, Stephanie Gilmore, Darcy Turenne, Santigold, MIA, Lindsay Jang, Gretchen Bleiler, the list goes on. All of the women I follow who are doing what they love.

Photographer: Christina Choi

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