Luenell was born in Tollette, Arkansas, a town whose population barely registers with the U.S. census. According to the comic diva there were no more than 400 residents when she was born and in 2006 "There is still no pay phone, wash house or movie theatre." She describes it as "rrrrrrrrrruuuural Arkansas." "No one has ever been on TV or in films from the town," says Luenell. Although she was just a 2 month old babe in diapers when her grandmother came and took her out of Tollette to live in Berkley, California, because of family turmoil, that resulted in the murder of her father, Luenell returned to the sleepy town time and time again for long periods, usually summer respites to stay with relatives and seven siblings. It seemed like she was never going to stop the cyclical rewind to Tollette to fast-forward towards her big dreams.
What were those fantasies? That she would one day become a "hugely rich" star. At about ten years old she caught the acting bug when she saw the plays South Pacific and Ain't Suppose to Die a Natural Death. After seeing the latter, she had so much fun at the reception dazzled by the flash of the photographers cameras, posing for pictures with the cast, sipping on champagne when no one was looking and eating hors d'oeuvres, Luenell decided "I want the whole enchilada!" At about the same time Luenell was singing in the church choir, which gave her confidence to be in the spotlight. She started to envision a life of luxury in a mansion with maids, a dog and entourage. Setting out to accomplish those goals to gain fortune and fame, she enrolled in theatre classes at the grade school level and continued through college and later performed at the Oakland Ensemble Theatre. After completing her college education at Chabot Community College in Hayworth, while living in the all white suburb of Castro CA, her next step was to get to Los Angeles, at all cost.
Her cousin was living on a naval air base stationed at Point Mugu in Oxnard. In Luenell's mind the sequence was to reach Oxnard, which was close to Malibu not far from her target destination, LA. So, she left the Bay area to live with her cousin and became an au pair, making an easy transition to Los Angeles and then ultimately to Long Beach, which would be the site of the beginning of her professional comedy career.
However, between the periods from the Bay to Long Beach, there was a problem. Luenell was employed at a Bank. Her dreams required money and she yielded to temptation while working at the financial institution and took a great sum of the mean green. During this time with a pocket full of money and living large, she became pregnant to a man from Oakland that she confesses, "I never loved, but we're like good friends." She tussled with the idea to have or not to have this child since she wanted full emotional support from the father. It was also at a time when her mother had just passed away. She paid a visit to her mother's grave for some soul searching and answers. The next day, her stomach according to Luenell, "went beep" meaning bulged out and she could feel the child within. That was her sign. She immediately stopped drinking alcohol and started taking her natal vitamins. A few months later, a beautiful daughter was born and she was the joy of her life, her "miracle child" as Luenell puts it.
After the baby arrived she moved into a lavish apartment with a friend who was a "call girl" who had a comedian customer. He told Luenell she was naturally funny and she should go to a comedy room in Long Beach called Ms. Whiz. One night after a few drinks and feeling very brave, she visited the club, performed and met Robin Harris who was the host of the spot. He told her "You're a funny bitch. You need to see Michael Williams at the Comedy Act," which was located in Leimert Park in the Crenshaw district of LA. Following up on that advice, she met D.L. Hughley. Soon after, word about this new comedienne started to spread and she landed an agent. Luenell has had literally hundreds of people who helped her along the way, but she would like to credit Laura Hayes who was a regular on Comic View. Luenell would tag along with Laura and this provided a network opportunity and a chance to showcase. According to Luenell this association with Laura had a residual long-term affect. Quintin Salmond, another friend was handling D.L. Hughley and he paired the two on gigs. That was the real beginning of her professional comic career.
Just when life seemed rosy, Luenell got a rude awakening by a knock on her door. It was law enforcement agents who caught up with her. They had been seeking her out for 9 years and took her to jail in Oakland and extradited her back to LA. Luenell was sentenced to 365 days. It played out like an episode of Lil' Kim on Court TV. She actually served 4 months and 18 days. At this point she was at her lowest ebb "I cried, I cried, I cried." "The mouth was silent." A lot of the prison inmates recognized her from her appearances on Comic View. Ironically, a film about prison life, in which she starred in entitled, "The Walk" was filmed at the same location of the jail. Luenell was deep in hot water and the most devastating part was the fact that her daughter, who she loved the most was taken away from her, not to mention that her career was shot straight to hell.
Re-enters a savior. Luenell had met her now manager, William Hanford Lee Jr. fifteen years prior to coming to LA. His family, publishers of a newspaper group in Sacramento produced a Black Expo. He had shown interest in her early days when she entered the comedy competition part of the Expo. Luenell did well and was a fixture at the expo for a few years. They always chatted and they were like "amoebas". "He's had my back ever since I met him. He was the first person who really had expendable income to invest in me." Whatever she needed, pictures business cards, headshots Bill made it happen. Luenell says, "Bill and I are connected forever. " We'd never leave each other. I'd kill him first. I'm like his sister, mother, like a girlfriend, like anything."
Luenell vowed that after her mess up with the law she would never go back to such a situation again. Re-united with her child she has continued to grow on a personal level and to grow professionally. The mansion is within grasp. She is becoming increasingly popular from her appearances in television film and videos. She is recognized by the mainstream and urban sectors of the population from her numerous BET Comic View appearances, DVD's such as Laffapalooza with Jamie Foxx, 2 Bees from Oakland and Comedy After Dark. The hip-hop cult classic film "Never Die Alone" in which she co-starred with DMX, playing a feisty bartender named Jasper has catapulted her to international fame. Since its release, she developed her signature look bearing a short cropped platinum blonde hair cut, perfectly manicured long fingernails sporting her little diamond clustered pimp goblet. Hip Hop fans also recognize her from her most recent film "So Fresh So Clean."
Luenell is now in HUGE demand. She is currently on a 60-city tour with "Money Mike" Katt Williams, who states. "Luenell is dynamic. We couldn't do it (the tour) without her. When she is not around, we really miss her, so we decided we shouldn't miss her at all. Hollywood you're sleepin' but you'll catch up." -Katt Williams
Well, Hollywood has opened their eyes as Luenell is about to begin filming two films in a row "Divine Intervention" by Van Elder for Bullzeye Productions and "Spring Breakdown" starring Parker Posey and Rachel Dratch. However, a feature, which she completed in early '06 and starred in entitled "Borat", will be the vehicle to take her straight to the top. This will be a significant career boost because the producers of the film chose to name the female starring role after Luenell. She will portray a character that makes a surprising trilateral transition in the film. The lead character played by Sacha Baron Cohen dumps Pamela Anderson Lee for Luenell. That should be a wildly hysterical scenario. Borat is set to premiere in early November 2006. Luenell hopes to be escorted to the premiere by the man of her fantasy, the one who absolutely makes her melt, Tommy Lee!
Luenell is living her dream. She has conquered fame and earns big paper from her work in films and comedy shows. With such an intriguing past, one would wonder how can she be so funny, but it's just that...life. With every little snag, and she has had many, she somehow manages to poke fun of her experiences making audiences howl with laughter, even though at the time, she was in great distress. Through it all, help has been there along the way from relatives, friends and her faith in God to ease the pain. Her reputation as a comic superstar continues to flourish, "...comedy demolition machine" (Eurweb report) "a sidesplitting high wired act without a net..." (Comedy Reviewer Buddy Sampson), "...comedy to die for." (Metro LA) "...one of the top 25 funniest people in LA (Los Angeles Magazine) and the accolades continue to roll.
There is no question about it, Luenell is a comic genius. She is the only female comedienne that can swear on stage like Richard Pryor and get away with it. But the girl from Tollette with a tale that reads like The Perils of Pauline would like everyone to know, that deep down inside,
"I am a nice person." --Luenell