LEISHA... Interviews and Articles Online
Leisha Hailey: The L Girl
by Anne S. (2007-04-01) - Advocate.com
Advocate.com © 2007 PlanetOut Inc.
Hi y'all, Anne here. I won't lie; I was moving slower this morning. Actually, so was everybody. Even the spikes on the young dykes' fauxhawks were drooping. Before I packed up my bags over at the Wyndham, I had to take a couple minutes and go dip in the pool. The deck chairs were already full of scenery. I left my towel on a patch of concrete near a gaggle of deck chairs occupied by some laid-back ladies. Hearing their conversation, I realized the redhead in the middle was visiting from Ireland. "Having a good time?" I asked? "Terrible," she replied—gesturing with a big grin to the sun overhead and the flesh all around. "Dreadful weather and nothin' to see!"
I couldn't linger, though. I got a hot text message from my Undercover Buddy over at the Doral L Word Pool Party. "Alice just got here—signing Tshirts!"
All right, then, The Advocate's on the way!
Leisha Hailey is the BEST. I'm telling you. I first met Leisha before she was the big cheese that she is today. And, while we all know so much more about how gifted she is, Leisha has in no way turned into that horrid-attitude-trainwreck of a human being that celebrity practically dares you to become. Leisha's outstanding work on The L Word has earned her a reputation as our new Lucille Ball—an actress so natural and so buoyant that we always believe she's actually in the predicament she's acting—and so lovable that we want to hug her till it's all better.
Leisha and Lucy share this in common, too: Like Lucy, Leisha is a businesswoman with an eye on the future. Where Lucy built Desilu, the TV production powerhouse, Leisha founded Marfa Records, where she's giving super musicians the chance to be heard.
But there's also a huge difference between our two L girls. Lucy, as we know, couldn't sing a lick. But our Leisha is just a good a musician as she is an actor. Leisha's first band was The Murmurs, then came Gush. And NOW…DRUM ROLL!…Leisha's got a brand new band. The name: Uh Huh Her! (The exclamation mark is mine.)
All of which brings y'all up to date: When I hit the Doral Pool Party, there's lovely Leisha, signing "Uh Huh Her" T Shirts. I asked her to autograph one for her Advocate fans (we'll be giving it away soon; watch for the sweepstakes on Advocate.com).
Leisha Hailey: The L Girl
by Lawrence Ferber (2006-02-15) - Windy City Times
(Thanks to Southie from TWOP for the link)
The Human Rights Campaign and Showtime teamed up to launch season 3 of The L Word, bringing together thousands of fans across the country for an evening of celebration and education. L Word creator/executive producer Ilene Chaiken and star Pam Grier made guest appearances at the Atlanta premiere event, while new cast member Daniela Sea made a splash entrance in Washington, D.C. Cast members Laurel Holloman, Leisha Hailey, Kate Moenning, Erin Daniels and Alexandra Hedison helped kick off the Los Angeles event. The premiere was a huge hit with fans who are thrilled to support HRC and check out the L Word this season. Nearly 500 individuals hosted house parties to screen the events at home, while more than 15,000 people joined us at nearly 40 events nationwide. Photos by Kevin Weaver, for the Human Rights Campaign
Leisha Hailey used to be one-of-a-kind. When Hailey joined the cast of Showtime’s The L Word three years ago as bisexual journalist Alice Pieszecki, she was the only out actor on the show. But with season three, which premiered Jan. 8, she was joined at last by other openly queer talent including Alan Cumming, as bisexual The Planet manager/party boy Billie Blaikie, and Daniela Sea, as Jenny’s ( Mia Kirschner ) new gender-bending lover, Moira. So, you see, Hailey’s not one-of-a-kind anymore. And she’s fine with that.
“Yeah, I can handle it—I think it’s good for the show,” Hailey says. “It makes it fun. And it’s not like before I ever felt like an outcast or anything like that.”
Alas, her character, Alice, endured some outcast moments during Season 2. She and tennis star best friend Dana ( Erin Daniels ) fell in love, made a go of it, and found that things weren’t working out. Their breakup lead to the pill-popping, irrational and obsessed stalker Alice has become at the start of Season 3. More romantic strangeness follows: by Episode 6 Alice becomes distracted by a new romantic interest: Uta ( Erica Cerra ) , a lesbian vampire. In between checking mirrors for a reflection, Alice realizes that Uta is damn good when it comes to sex, and she can finally get over Dana. But fate has a twist in store for Dana that will bring Alice and all of her friends together … she has cancer.
Born in Okinawa, Japan, and raised in Nebraska, Hailey trained at NYC’s American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She garnered her first following as one-half of The Murmurs, an alt-rock band with Heather Grody. The Murmurs contributed music to, and Hailey appeared in, 1997’s teen lesbian classic, All Over Me. Once she landed the role of Alice in The L Word, Hailey turned her focus to acting, and since then The Murmurs—which became Gush—have split up. Hailey recently stepped behind the camera to executive produce a documentary about teens raised by gay parents, Raising Teens, which will air on LOGO and MTV in 2006. And Hailey can regularly be seen as a man-hungry yogurt-eater in a series of Yoplait TV commercials.
To discuss The L-Word, Alice and bi-curious yogurt, I spoke with Hailey by phone.
Lawrence Ferber: How was making Season 3 different from making last season?
Leisha Hailey: I really feel like we got back to the first year feeling this year. Last year there was so much pressure. Because we had done so well the first year, we came back full of anxiety. Everyone was trying to top it somehow, or worried about topping it. It was odd. But this year we came back and were ourselves again and the energy was great. It feels like a really tightly run ship.
LF: Alice has quite an arc so far this season. In just the first six episodes she goes from being a complete stalker psycho to hooking up with a vampire.
LH: Yeah, it’s a great year. I feel really lucky because there’s so much to play with. I go from one end of the spectrum to the other, which is really fun for me. It’s rare that you see people taking getting dumped and turning psychotic. And as much as it looks crazy, I’ve seen people react in those ways.
LF: Have you ever reacted that way?
LH: I’ve never stalked anyone, but I’ve felt that angry. It makes you feel like you’re losing control, after severe heartbreak. Not that I’ve ever acted on it, but I can understand where that came from.
LF: Do you know which writer brought the vampire idea to the table?
LH: I feel like [ show creator ] Ilene Chaiken told me that Quentin Tarantino pitched the idea.
LF: Have you ever met a real vampire?
LH: I haven’t. It would be interesting. But I know there’s a whole lesbian vampire scene. I’ve seen pictures.
LF: What sorts of other ideas have been pitched but didn’t fly?
LH: I think there’s a lot of that, but it doesn’t get to us [ actors ] . I haven’t been in the writer’s room [ lately ] .
LF: I heard they have the real lesbian love/sex chart in there. Are you on it?
LH: They do. I am! It’s accurate. But I haven’t looked at it since the pilot.
LF: And does your set of branches look like a bonsai tree or a weeping willow?
LH: Yeah, it’s nuts.
LF: Was Alice closer to you when you first started playing her, or now?
LH: Now. Not the crazy stuff, but maybe the longer you play a character you sink into it, or the more of yourself comes in. I’m not sure. It definitely feels like I relate a lot more now.
LF: Do things going on with the other characters ever correspond to events in your own life or ring particularly true?
LH: Yeah. I think they touch on a lot of things. I guess for some reason I really relate to Bette and Tina. Maybe because they’re a domestic couple …
LF: Aren’t they such fags? Always breaking up, having affairs, getting back together …
LH: Yeah, right. Well, who’s not having an affair on the show.
LF: Point taken! Who has been your best onscreen lover so far?
LH: Erin! For sure. The vampire was great, but because Erin and I are so close it made it fun to go into work every day.
LF: I heard that some cast members cringe if they suspect the writers might pair them up with an actress they’ve come to know as a close friend. Like, “Oh please don’t let us hook up, we’re like sisters!”
LH: Yeah. [ Laughs. ] Certain people were like “No, don’t put us together.” But once you are together it’s funny and makes work a lot of fun.
LF: Have there been actual romances on-set?
LH: No. Not that I know of.
LF: Are there pranks played on set, like during a scene where you order a coffee at The Planet you’re given something disgusting?
LH: No but I’m going to use that next year! Yeah. Pranks definitely go on but I can’t think of one offhand.
LF: How does the cast respond to the glut of L Word gossip out there?
LH: It depends. It’s not like we all sit around reading the message boards but you hear things. It’s just funny because you have no idea how things start. It’s strange what people come up with. But it’s pretty entertaining.
LF: Do you have a favorite bar in Vancouver?
LH: Yeah, we go to this place all the time called Rodney’s. It’s like a clam shack. We love it.
LF: What has it been like with Alan Cumming on set?
LH: I love him, he couldn’t be nicer. He’s funny, witty, and makes the whole room laugh. Especially at the table script read-throughs every week, which aren’t always the liveliest things to do. A lot of times you have to play characters that aren’t in the room. Alan is great with those.
LF: It’s funny to see you cooing about men in those Yoplait commercials.
LH: I know, it’s funny. Especially with the same girl in every commercial. She likes the L word.
LF: Have you ever asked if your Yoplait character could become bi-curious, or is that more of a Dannon yogurt thing?
LH: Yeah, it may be that. That’s something I started doing years and years ago and sometimes out of the blue they’ll call and I’ll do another one.
LF: So The Murmurs and Gush are in the past. You’ve completely shifted from music to acting, then?
LH: Yeah, definitely. I think it was hard for me at first to figure out what was happening because I had spent so many years doing music. But acting is what I always wanted to do. It’s hard to let something go you’ve concentrated on and put so much energy into, but I think now I finally made peace with the fact that this is what I’m going to try and do.
LF: How does Heather Grody feel about this?
LH: We’re great. We didn’t have a sad ending or anything. At that point we had been together almost 12 years. So she continued on. She’s great.
LF: What can you tell me about the Raising Teens show you exec-produced?
LH: I co-produced it with Lara Spotts and Sam Counter .The ‘gayby boom’ [ of gays having children ] is fairly new. So it was about finding teenagers who were products of gay marriages that had been there from the very beginning. We wanted to talk to the teens and find out what their experience has been like. We found three fabulous kids and went through their journeys and talked about what it’s been like and what it’s like today.
LF: Was it hard to find the kids and parents? And will this lead to more behind the scenes activity?
LH: It really was. It took like three months just casting the kids. We had to find teens that had an arc happening at that time in their life so it wasn’t only talking heads where they just tell us about the past. So we could actually follow them going through something. I really liked the process of filming and meeting the families, but the producing part is not so much my thing. Too office-y for me. I’m too creative for the phone calls, e-mails, that type of thing.
LF: Have you considered becoming a gay parent?
LH: No. I don’t think so. Not for me. I don’t see myself with kids and never really have. But never say never. I guess what scares me is the thought of getting older and not having any family around. That’s creepy.
LF: Back to L Word, what else is going to transpire this season? Will Alice end up with a partner?
LH: I probably shouldn’t answer that.
LF: Well, do things get easier for Alice?
LH: It only gets worse!
LF: How’s your own love life these days?
LH: Oh great, I’m totally in love! It’s been five years. Her name is Nina. She’s really happy I’m on a show I love so much and she loves everyone on it.
LF: Would you like Nina to do the vampire thing?
LF: You’re going to become a star with vampires and other nightcrawlers, though.
LH: I know! I want to be loved by the vampires.
Lisa Steinberg - questions by deepinblue (01/20/2006)
Q. We know that the latest season of "The L Word" just began airing. Do you like where your character has gone this season and do you think that it is realistic for the six months not shown?
A. That's an excellent question, I do like where my character is just because it's fun for me to play something different, even if it is a little off the wall and crazy and slightly unrealistic, it's still crazy and fun for me. It made work different, like it just wasn't me hanging out at The Planet hanging out with my friends. It was actually something to do and as far as the six months go, I would like to see what happened in the six months. They give us back-stories so we're sure we know what has happened but I'm sure as an audience member it becomes frustrating, because you want to see that played out.
Q. The show has been up and down ratings wise. Do you feel the show is strong enough to carry into a fourth season?
A. Yeah, I think we have a strong enough built in audience and it actually has been doing really well this season with the ratings. It's gone up from last year so that gives me pretty strong hope that we'll get picked up. But, you never know.
Q. You recently guest starred on the show "CSI." What made you want to be a part of this show?
A. Well, I wanted to do some different things on my hiatus, we have about six months off. I didn't want to just hang around waiting for the word, if we're getting picked up or not. So, I started going out on auditions for guest spots and I got the "CSI" and I also got a "Grey's Anatomy" episode. I am planning on auditioning still for lots more.
Q. You had to go through a big transformation for the role on that show. What was the hair and makeup process like for you for that role?
A. It was itchy, it took about two and a half hours to glue all of the hair on my face. I just thought it would be interesting for me to play something completely and totally different than anything else I've played. I think it's fun for anyone to play the sort of monster character, it's just another form of an outcast and I really find that interesting.
Q. Will your band Gush be coming out with a new CD soon? Will you be adding any more artists to your record label?
A. Well we're not together anymore, we ended that band about three years ago. If there is any other music I put out again it would either be something that would be a new project that I would do alone or it would be a reunion with Heather and I for The Murmurs. I plan to add more artists to the record label, I'd like to sign a country act some time but right now I'm focusing on putting Amy's record out, Amy Cook, and the website is up now so people can actually by the record now. The website is marfarecords.com.
Q. You are involved with acting, producing and music. Is there anything else you would like to try your hand at?
A. Not right now, I don't have any big plans, I just sort of want to focus on acting and that's pretty much it for this year. I am really psyched to do different things because I can get bored pretty easily so I like to switch it up all the time.
Q. As a role model, what do you recommend for a person who has come out to their family and they don't accept?
A. That's a really hard question I think it can be so different for so many people it depends. That's hard, I think you really just have to have a strong support system with your friends and I think that family comes in lots of different ways. So you form families in life I think as a gay person where your friends become your family, so I think that if someone is having a hard time with their biological family you just need to reach out, find local support groups or friends to talk to. You actually build your own support system that way.
Q. As Alice on "The L Word" you have wonderful comedic timing. Is this something that comes naturally to you or is it something that you're constantly working at?
A. I guess it comes slightly naturally, I don't know why. I'm nothing like that in person so maybe it's just the fact that you have funny lines written for you so it's really about delivery. It's pretty easy for me, it takes a lot of the pressure off so instead of coming up with something funny to say, it's already there. So, you just have to deliver it in a funny way and that doesn't seem so hard to me.
Q. Since the show is in its third season, how do you think the cast keeps up with the chemistry between each other?
A. Well, it comes naturally, I mean we're all really good friends. I think the closer we become the more natural and real the relationships between the characters become. So, it actually just grows deeper I think.
Q. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
A. I love to run, I run every morning by myself. I love to go out to dinner, I love to see movies, I like to paint and that's pretty much it.
Q. What is your latest obsession? Are you into any particular book, music group, sport or activity?
A. I just bought a bike so I want to start training because one of my dreams is to do the AIDS ride. So, I'm going to start doing that and I'm really into The Like, that band.
Q. Now that it is 2006, what are you most looking forward to this year?
A. I really this year want to focus on stretching myself in the audition process. So, when I go out for things I can feel proud of what I did in the room. I really want to grow as an actress and that's my focus right now.
Q. What would you like to say to all of your fans and supporters?A. I just really want to thank everyone for supporting the show and really getting behind it and understanding there are flaws but at the same time being huge supporters of it. I really appreciate the compliments that I get and I am very thankful for all of that, I feel very lucky.
Showtime Live Chat
with Leisha Hailey - February 15, 2004
Leisha Hailey: I guess I just want to start by saying hello to everyone and I hope you enjoyed tonight's episode. I'm looking forward to answering any questions that you have. And at the same time, I'm curious about all the questions.
timeless: Leisha, love you on the show - was it hard for you to decide
to take such a controversial role?
Hailey: Billarox, I really believe when it comes down to it, it's a
personal choice whether you want to come out of the closet publicly or
not. I don't believe that people are forced to stay quiet in Hollywood.
I believe it's just an old myth that if you come out your career will
plummet and people won't accept you. But I think that slowly that's all
changing, and I think that the more people who are brave enough to be
themselves, that people will follow in their footsteps.
An Interview With Leisha Hailey
Alice and Dana have that interesting "we're just friends but it could be something more" dynamic going on. Would you like to see the two of them get involved in a full-blown relationship?
I'm only speaking for myself here, but I personally would really like to see them get together.
Yes, because I think it's the kind of situation that really happens to everyone. I think that sometimes when you're that close to someone, you don't realize that it could cross over.
That's true. I have a friend right now who was really close with someone and the other person just met someone else and started dating her. My friend is very upset by it, and I was asking her "Wait -- are you in love with her, or are you simply having feelings of loss for losing your friend?" And she just can't figure it out.
I actually had a great time filming the Dinah Shore episode.
That's a great episode!
Yeah, and see, my favorite thing about the show is the parts where we get to see the friends together and the dynamics of all these girls just hanging out. I think the Dinah Shore episode really made that shine.
Are there any particular scenes -- even ones of other cast members -- that have really resonated with you as a lesbian?
Yeah, the Bette and Tina storylines, always. For some reason, I always identify with them because I'm a serial monogamist.
So how you do feel then about the whole cheating thing with Bette?
I think it's real, and I think it happens all the time. And I think that if Ilene were just to show Bette and Tina as this perfect couple all the time, it would just be so unrealistic, because it just doesn't ever end up perfect. And I think it's a huge thing that happens when you meet someone and you connect with them in the world. Some people go for it and some people don't. And I think it's a real challenge.
Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt watch "Friends" together at home every Thursday night, and I was wondering if you watch "The L Word" every Sunday night?
There's a bar called "The Revolver" in L.A. and they show it on the big screen, and sometimes we all [fellow cast members] meet up and watch it there. One of my favorite things is to see other people watch it. It's so much fun getting to watch their reactions to it -- it's almost like watching theater. [Laughs.] And sometimes, one of us will host a house party and we'll all head over there to watch it.
That sounds like so much fun. So I guess you guys really are that close in real life?
Yes, we really are.
The show's been getting a lot of great guest stars. Is there any particular actress you would like to see come on and perhaps play the role of Alice's love interest?
[Much laughter.] Well I would really like for someone funny to come on, like Parker Posey or Margaret Cho. Someone who would be like, a perfect challenge maybe in the workplace? Like maybe someone Alice could have a funny dynamic with, but that could also possibly turn romantic. But I would want a really funny person.
What about Tina Fey?
[Laughs.] Oh my God, she would be amazing!
Ellen's coming out episode had a profound effect on just about every gay person in the country, and everyone always has a "Where were you the night of the famous episode?" type story. What about you? You were with k.d. lang at the time and she was in the episode, right?
I was actually in the episode.
Yeah, I was an extra in the coffee shop! [Laughs.] There was room on this seat, so I just sat there. It was funny.
What was the atmosphere on the set?
Oh, it was sooo charged. I mean, it was just crazy -- the energy was nuts. And it was so exciting, because you could feel you were a part of something huge.
What's your current relationship status? Are you single?
Oh, no, no, no. I'm in a total relationship.
What part of a woman do you find most attractive?
Her mouth, always.
What would you like to see happen to Alice in season two?
Well, I already talked to Ilene about this, but I would love to see Alice go through heartbreak. Because I feel like so far she's always been in control of starting and ending things. Well, except for Gabby, but ... no, she was. Well, even though she was totally run over by her. But I think it would be fun to see her sort of left in the dust and have to deal with that. But on a really deep level, you know -- serious heartbreak.
What's your favorite lesbian film?
"Desert Hearts" is so great, just because I think it's the one we all [most lesbians] saw. I remember watching it with my friend Heather, and we were both like screaming because we couldn't believe it. It was so exciting to see two women do that!
Are you getting recognized by lesbians on the street, and if so, what are they saying to you?
Yes, I am, and usually they are just really appreciative. They say that they really like what we're doing on the show and really enjoying it and loving it. And also, a lot of straight girls are coming up to me as well.
Yeah. In fact, I think it's more straight women than gay women. Like I was in New York, and straight women kept stopping me and saying, "God, I really love your show," which is great. I think that if any girl ever thought about crossing over at one point in her life, then she's watching the show.
The Murmurs were one of the first openly gay bands. Now, all of a sudden, there is this onslaught of openly gay rockers out there. We receive about three CDs a week from these really good bands who are all gay. They seem to be coming out of the woodwork. What do you think of that?