Executive Producer


Leelai Demoz is Executive Producer at Small Ax.  He has enjoyed a varied and illustrious career in the arts, both in front of and behind the camera. Born in London to Ethiopian parents and raised in Chicago, Leelai is a storyteller of midwest gumption with an international-man-of-mystery persona.  He has a passion for producing narratives long, short, tall and skinny.


Leelai brings a consistent energy and passion to every project he touches. He produced the film “On TipToe,” a profile of the singing group Ladysmith Black Mambazo which premiered on HBO and was nominated for Academy® and Emmy Awards. Leelai’s latest feature film DIFRET won the Sundance and Berlin Film Festival Audience Awards in 2014. The film, Executive Produced by Angelina Jolie, received a worldwide theatrical release in 2015. Leelai’s work has also been seen on MTV, Discovery, BET, VH1 and Lifetime. As an actor he has appeared at The Goodman Theater, Steppenwolf Theater, The Kennedy Center, The National Theater of Great Britain, and Broadway.

Leelai’s cross-platform, cross-cultural work extends beyond traditional storytelling.  He was a principal at Jeremy Piven’s production company, Luscious Mayhem, and also directed a set of ‘get out the vote’ public service announcements for the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation with Lee Daniels. The spots featured LL Cool J and Alicia Keys.  Outside of the arts, Leelai has consulted with the United Institute of Peace, The Clinton Foundation Rwanda initiative, The Schoolhouse Foundation and the NADCP.