Born on July 4th, 1993 in Huntsville, Alabama, TOI’YA BRENAE LEATHERWOOD always knew that she was destined for the arts in a major way. Toi’ya trained strictly as a ballerina under the direction of Clinton and Carrie Rothwell during the school year and American Ballet Theatre in the summer. Toi’ya quickly became known in the ballet world receiving national scholarships to American Ballet Theatre, Ballet West, New Jersey Ballet, Alabama Ballet, Eglevsky Ballet, Birmingham-Southern, and Chicago River North just to name of few. At the age of 13, Toi’ya became the youngest person ever to win Alabama’s Wing Awards for Best Female Dancer in an Extended Piece for her principal role in Lloyd Tygett’s version of the Nutcracker.
In 2008, Toi’ya and her family moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, where she also fell in love with acting and the commercial side of dance taking part in the film High School Musical 3. That summer, Toi’ya was offered to act in two roles under the direction of Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Director’s Lab opposite Samuel Jackson’s wife, La Tanya Richardson in on one and Shawn Thomas (Save the Last Dance) in the other. Toi’ya also started training in ballroom and jazz while still maintaining her ballet training at Ballet West.
After high school, Toi’ya landed the part of Tia Mowry’s stunt double in ABC Family’s Mistletones, and shortly thereafter, in June 2012, signed with one of Los Angeles’ top talent agencies for dancers and never looked back.
Upon making Los Angeles her home in August 2012, Toi’ya has been cast in every genre of dance from pointe in ballet to hip hop. You can see her dancing in commercials such as Skecher’s shoes or on award shows such as Teen Choice Awards, BET Awards, or NAACP Theatre Awards for artists Paramore, Janelle Monae, Shoshanna Bean, and most recently in the video “Loose Yourself to Dance” by Daft Punk featuring Pharell. Toi’ya also has danced in 2013 Get Wet Series at the Getty Museum under the direction of Kitty MacNamee, and has worked with other choreographers like Rob Ashford, Chris Scott, Fatima Robinson, and Mandy Moore. Toi’ya is very humbled and excited to be a part of Wings on Wings and the LA Phil for this performance.