Born in Osan City, Korea, Leilani is the daughter of native Ok Cho Kim and Claude Sr. Getting to travel the world as an Air Force Brat gave her a strong sense of family and being mindful of other cultures.
For her spirit, she studied martial arts at Rifkin Pro Karate, training based in traditional Tae Kwon Do with Aikido and Jujitsu self defense techniques. On Sept. 15th, 2007 she obtained her 1st degree black belt by displaying her 75 self defense techniques called out of order, executed 10 forms, one of which she had to design, performed free knife attack techniques on 2 black belt men at the same time, broke 3 one inch boards with a blindfolded jumping back kick, sparred full contact first individually then 3 black belt men at once, in a 4 hour test. At the Battle of LA, she placed 1st in forms beating out 4 men and 1st in her division of women’s sparring. She took 1st place in forms and 1st place in sparring beating out 2 black belt females at the L.A. Sheriff’s cup. In 2008 she placed 1st in the SMA Long Beach Internationals continuous sparring division. She was the first female black belt at RPK and began teaching as well as assisting at the dojo. She then took up Muay Thai, grappling and Arjunkenpo at the House of Champions as well as kickboxing to round out her style. She also became a featured martial artist in Inside Kung Fu magazine written by Mike Larazagga. Leilani has also choreographed all the fight sequences as well as hired all the martial artists needed, for the first time in 2017 for the music video “Karate” by Dominique Young Unique featuring Mandy.
For her dreams, she trained 2 years in advanced scene study with Bennet Guillory of the Robey Theatre, studied scene work over a year in Ivana Chubback’s Master Class, about a year with Jeffery Brooks of Redrock for cold reads/audition technique and then went on to train at Lifebook Acting Academy with Allen Levin in Dramatic/Comedic reality improv as well as scene work becoming the first student assistant instructor.
Her first acting role was opposite Ving Rhames in “The Don King Story” as a ring girl and have since graced T.V., film and theatre roles as well. In 2016 she won the NAACP Theatre Award for “Best Ensemble” in “Flyin’ West” as Fannie Mae Dove and won scenie awards for her portrayal of characters in “Bee Luther Hatchee” and “Home.” For television, she’s appeared as a co-lead – “Charlie” on TV One, co-star on the Mistresses as well as Guest Starring as Elliete Dominique in the pilot of “Married With Secrets” on Discovery I.D. and was then asked to return as Det. Jean Smith in Season 2 and guest starred opposite Jason Gedrick as “Dep. Benita Kirby” in the award winning “Trouble Creek” directed by Stacey Black and Shea Butler. She was the jogger who flipped Sally Field and Tyne Daly off in an improv’d bit on the big screen’s “Hello My Name is Doris” directed by Michael Showalter and currently in “Runnin’ From My Roots” as the media reporter “Sandra” with the red carpet event on Nov. 1st, with worldwide release on Dec. 11th 2018. Leilani became the female lead – “Capt. Gabby Walker” – in Skydance’s first VR game “Arch Angel,” which has lead to her pursuit in voice over work currently as well. Her mottos are “Without passion there is nothing” and “One step atta time…” which is she doing consistently.