Born in Modena, Italy, Elisa Leonelli earned a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Bologna, majoring in Aesthetics of Film with a published thesis on Alain Robbe-Grillet, the French novelist and filmmaker.
After moving to Los Angeles, she worked as a photo-journalist for American and International publications (Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine, LA Weekly, Herald Examiner, New West, Westways, Time, Newsweek, Vogue, Zoom, Espresso, Europeo, Grazia, Panorama, etc.). A member of ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers), she photographed a book on the Los Angeles Olympics, Olimpiadi 84.
A film journalist accredited by HFPA (Hollywood Foreign Press Association) and MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), Leonelli has written feature articles about movie stars and film directors for numerous Italian publications, including Epoca, CIAK, Elle, Marie Claire, Gioia, Donna Moderna, Best Movie, Glamour, Myself, and for the Spanish film magazine Cinemania. She earned a Master's Degree in Critical Studies from the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, and authored the book Robert Redford and the American West.