Home' LOTL : July 2005 Contents 12
KNOWN CHIEFLY AS THE EX OF DYKON
KD LANG, LEISHA HAILEY IS A
TALENTED MUSICIAN IN HER OWN
RIGHT AND STAR OF THE SMASH TV
SERIES THE L WORD. MERRYN JOHNS
SPEAKS WITH HER ABOUT THE SHOW
WE CONSTANTLY CRAVE.
For those of you curious about the off-
screen personalities of actresses (or the
ex-girlfriends of kd lang) I can tell you
that the squeaky-voiced, softly spoken
Leisha Hailey is lovely with a capital L.
My opener that we are big fans-- and we
are -- is greeted with a sweet, "Well,
thank you very much"; and my (sort of)
warning that I have "a question" for her
(read yes, I will ask about Ms. lang) is
greeted with an earnest "You got it".
Hailey, born in Japan, grew up in small-
town Nebraska then moved to New York
to study drama. Along the way she drifted
into music and formed the duo The
Murmurs. She became most famous,
however, as kd lang's rather young
girlfriend and the two enjoyed an
enviable relationship at the height of what
has come to be known as the era of
But this article is not about that. It's about
Hailey's pivotal role in The L Word
(which represents, for many, the return of
said chic), so let's not get sidetracked.
When Hailey heard that the producers of
The L Word were casting she asked her
manager to send her out for it because the
project sounded "kind of cool".
She was up for the role of Shane and
tested against Kate Moennig for the part.
Thinking back on the experience Hailey
laughs. "It was actually really funny,
'cause the second I met Kate in the room
I was like, well, that's a no-brainer."
Lesbians everywhere have swooned over
Moennig's portrayal of uber-hip,
streetwise and elegantly butch hairdresser
Shane, and in hindsight it is indeed a no-
brainer that Hailey was meant for other
purposes. She is wonderful as Alice
Pieszecki, the wisecracking bisexual
journalist who has no qualms about
speaking her mind around her gaggle of
lesbian friends. The producers had Hailey
come back and read for the role, which
she nabbed -- could it be the first
positively portrayed bisexual female in
the history of television? And how did
she, as a lesbian, approach this role?
"I think that bisexuals get a really bad rap
so I'm excited to be showing a bisexual
not as someone who's flaky and unable to
decide; it's really somebody who's
following their heart and agenda. I think
that's a pretty beautiful concept."
For a lot of lesbians, the B word is taboo.
Does she have to defend her role amongst
"I don't think there's too much weight on
me representing every kind of bisexual.
This is just one character, and personally,
I've never encountered a bisexual I didn't
like." Bisexuals are taboo, she muses,
"because we're threatened; you're going
to be the person that got rejected for
another sex. I'm sure straight people are
threatened by bisexuals as well."
It's because of such thorny issues --
bisexuality, self-insemination, lesbian
adultery -- that The L Word is
groundbreaking television. But when the
pilot aired many lesbian viewers recoiled
in bewilderment at the narrowness of
representation within this particular dyke
kaffee klatsch. Hailey was exposed to
some criticism early on. "I think it's
loosening up, but there was a lot of
pressure on the show to represent every
kind of lesbian that ever walked the earth
and it's just an impossible task that eight
characters can't hold up. People got past
that and just decided to get into these
characters and what they're about. You
can't take yourself too seriously."
Hailey, who turns 34 this month, has
always had a laid back attitude to life.
She came out at 18 and envisaged a
career in showbiz. The two were never
"I'm sure I would have been in a different
position if I had always been in the closet
was successful, then I had to do this big
coming out -- that's got to be a very scary
thing for someone."
Indeed. Ellen Degeneres anybody?
"But I think I'm lucky because I never
really hid who I was and therefore
people got to know me for who I was. I
never felt that big scare. As far as being
typecast: I don't know if it's going to
happen. I don't think so. I think
Hollywood is changing. I think it's sort
of becoming cool to be gay, if you want
to know the truth."
Not that going out with kd made being
in the closet an option. How does she
remember those times? She laughs
softly, and then her tone becomes
mellow and reflective.
"Without going into it too much, because
it's so in my past and [there's] no need
barking down that road, it was a very
positive experience, and I was with a
really wonderful person who was pretty
low key actually, so it wasn't a huge life
changer, I have to say. It wasn't that
For Hailey, being in the Sapphic spotlight
is positive once more. "It's one of the
best things that's ever happened to me.
I'm having so much fun on this show for
the very reason that I work with the best
women and we just love each other and I
can't imagine doing the show with any
LEISHA with AN'L'
you're going to
be the person
that got rejected
for another sex.
Links Archive June 2005 August 2005 Navigation Previous Page Next Page