Toni-Leslie James has designed costumes nationally for every entertainment venue; feature film, television, opera, dance, industrials, regional theater, and Broadway. For Broadway, she has designed Bernhardt/Hamlet, Come From Away (Hewes Design Award, Drama Desk nomination), August Wilson’s Jitney (TONY nomination, Drama Desk nomination), Amazing Grace (Hewes Design Nomination), Lucky Guy, The Scottsboro Boys, Finian's Rainbow, Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, King Hedley II, One Mo’ Time, The Wild Party, Marie Christine, Footloose, The Tempest, Twilight Los Angeles 1992, Angels in America: Millennium Approaches & Perestroika, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, and Jelly’s Last Jam. Off-Broadway she has designed multiple productions for The Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Second Stage, Soho Rep, Lincoln Center Theater, The New York Theatre Workshop, Manhattan Theater Club, The Roundabout Theater, and over 15 productions for the NY City Center Encores series. Regionally, her work could be seen in productions for La Jolla Playhouse, Steppenwolf, Hartford Stage, The Long Wharf, Baltimore Center Stage, The Old Globe, Mark Taper Forum, Arena Stage, Cleveland Playhouse, Cincinnati Playhouse, The Round House Theatre, Seattle Rep, The Shakespeare Theatre, Berkley Rep, The Alliance Theatre, Goodspeed Playhouse, The Williamstown Theatre Festival, ACT, Portland Center Stage, The Denver Theater Center, and the Crossroads Theatre Co. Internationally, she has designed for The Abbey Theater in Dublin, Ireland, two productions on the West End, The Young Vic, The Royal Court Theater and The Chichester Theater Festival in the UK, The Athens Greek Festival, and Radio Dansmark TV in Denmark. She was the head costume designer for Whoopi on NBC, and the CBS soap opera, As the Word Turns, as well as having designed three specials for WNET/13’s Great Performances series. Her design work has been displayed in nine major museum and college exhibitions including a 2006 retrospective of her career at The American Museum of Natural History "Designing Woman: Inside The Life And Career of Costume Designer, Toni-Leslie James", the Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library 2008-2009 exhibition "Curtain Call: A Century of Designing Women", and “More Life!: Angels in America at Twenty” at The Museum of Performance & Design in San Francisco, CA. in 2010-2011.
Ms. James has garnered a total of forty-one costume design nominations or awards for her contributions to various theatrical productions including two Tony Award nominations, five Drama Desk nominations, two Hewes Design Awards and four additional Hewes nominations, five Audelco Award nominations, two N.A.A.C.P Image Award nominations, three Lucille Lortel nominations, an Helen Hayes Award nomination, The Denver Theatre Center Ovation Award nomination, The LA Drama-Logue Award, The FANY Award, The Connecticut Critics Circle Award, the Irene Sharaff Young Masters Award For Costume Design Excellence, the 2009 Obie Award for Sustained Costume Design Excellence, and the 2011 National Black Theater Festival Outstanding Costume Designer of The Year Award. In January 2018, Ms. James was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Sewanee, The University of the South.
Ms. James is an Associate Professor and Head of Design at Virginia Commonwealth University and received her BFA in Theatre from The Ohio State University.