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:: S H O W T I M E  L I V E  C H A T ::
with Leisha Hailey Feb. 15, 2004


sho_moderator: Thank you for participating! Welcome to tonight's event, a chat with Leisha Hailey.LEISHA HAILEY (Alice Pieszecki) is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and has appeared on television and in independent films ("All Over Me"), but her focus to date has been on music. As one of the pop-rock duo The Murmurs, she recorded three albums for MCA Records during the 90s, and is now a member of the LA-based band Gush, whose first album will be released in 2004. She makes her television series debut with THE L WORD. Good evening everyone. Thanks for logging on. Leisha Hailey is now ready to begin the chat. Let's get started!

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?

leisha_hailey: Timeless Angel, no, in fact, I was really excited to take this role because it's very different from myself. Also, the subject of the entire show was exciting to me.

calsgrrl: You all seem to get along so great. Have you or any of the others had feedback indicating people have changed their thoughts or attitudes about homosexuals in a positive way?

leisha_hailey: Calsgrrl, we haven't as a cast gotten feedback about changing anyone's opinions, but we feel like what we're doing on the show will eventually open the minds of people in the world and hopefully show them that being gay is nothing different from anything else. But I feel like gay people are happy to finally be represented on tv.

xdream1: I loved you in The Murmurs and Gush and was wondering if there was any chance that the character of Alice will ever sing on the show?

leisha_hailey: In the tenth episode, we tell our coming-out stories, and you'll learn that Alice had a band in college. But I don't want to give away too much more than that. It was actually one of my most favorite scenes to shoot the whole season.

marianne: Is it hard to split your time between the show and the band Gush?

leisha_hailey: Marianne, it was a very difficult decision when I took the show to know if I would have time to do both. Eventually it turned out that it's too difficult to straddle the two careers. But when I get home after shooting, like right now when I'm on hiatus, I have plenty of time to write and will eventually put my own band together. Because Heather and I have decided to let each other go our separate ways musically. For those who don't know, Heather's been my music partner in the Murmurs and Gush, and I'm really stoked that you like the bands, by the way.

chey2000: Leisha, was this the first gay role that you have played?

leisha_hailey: Chey2000, no it wasn't. I was in an independent movie in college called "All Over Me," where I played a young gay girl named Lucy. That movie was so much fun to work on.

dao10: Does it bother you that many (men and women) may be watching the show for the sexuality rather than the characters/stories?

leisha_hailey: I feel like people might tune in for one reason in particular and that could be the sex, but I feel like one they get sucked in by the characters, they'll find themselves not caring so much about the sex scenes, and getting more invested in the people. And just to add to that, one of my biggest wishes is that the show succeeds across the board and reaches not only the gay community but the straight world as well.

leznurse63: How was it going on the Olivia cruise now that you are a true lesbian icon?

leisha_hailey: Leznurse, that's funny, I don't consider myself an icon at all, but it's very flattering, thank you. The Olivia cruise was really really fun. I don't know if you were on it yourself, but I went with Mia and Kate. It was the night the show opened, so we got to view it with the women on the cruise. And that was really special. It was also inspiring because there were couples on that cruise that have been together for 50-some odd years. That was really sweet to see. That was especially meaningful to me because my parents have been together for 38 years, and it's beautiful to see two women last that long.

smedj: Will the L Word tackle the hot topic of gay marriage in future episodes?

leisha_hailey: Smedj, I'm sure it will, because it's such an important topic to deal with, but I can't say for sure because, as you know, I have nothing to do with the writing. But I'm sure Ilene and the writing staff will deal with that. But I can't say for sure it would be my character. Oh wait, I just remembered something-- it does come up in this season. I was completely spacing out just then. But I definitely can't give it away.

jop82: Leisha, if you could write an episode of the show, where would you like to take your character? Would you make it a funny episode involving Alice or would you want to explore some more difficult, more dramatic sides of her?

leisha_hailey: That's a really good question. I do crave Alice diving into some deeper issues. But I completely enjoy being funny on the show. I guess I would really love to see Alice fall madly in love in a real way. And try to have a real relationship with someone.

tangy119: How do you feel about portraying a bisexual character, since it is controversial in the lesbian and straight community?

leisha_hailey: Tangy, it's really fun for me to play a bisexual, because I had to learn so much about that sexual orientation. For me, labels are like a comfort zone. I've always embraced the word "gay." It's always felt natural and safe to identify myself to a word and a community. So bisexuals were challenging to understand. But now I realize that it's just as legitimate of a sexuality as calling yourself gay or straight. It's not what people usually think of, which is a sort of flighty, non-committal person, who can't decide between gay or straight.

daisy25: Do you feel any added responsibility as the only openly gay women on the show?

leisha_hailey: Daisy, I can't really say that I feel an added responsibility that would be bigger than any other cast member. I feel like we all have a huge responsibility as a group to represent the gay community properly, because the whole cast cares so much, and the writers, about portraying people correctly. Although I'm aware that we're not representing every lesbian in the world. But I can say that I'm proud to be out. I think it shows that being gay and being out in Hollywood is okay. There's nothing to be scared of.

llaughlovelive: Do any of the other actors ask you advice on how to portray a lesbian?

leisha_hailey: That's really funny. I have to say the answer's no, and that they all seem to be doing an amazing job on their own. I think that they care so much about what they're doing, and that when you put two women together in a love scene it's really no different from a scene with a man, and I can say that because I'm used to being with women, and when I did a love scene with a man it wasn't that much different either. Because love is love, and that's what we're all trying to portray.

meganpage: Do you think it is more important for Alice to fall in love with a man or a woman, or does it matter?

leisha_hailey: Meganpage, I don't think that falling love with either a man or a woman is gonna matter. I think as long as Alice feels that it's true love, that's what's most important. I personally would like to see her fall in love with a woman, because I feel like it would feel more natural to Alice, but then again maybe that's just me.

sobriquet: Are we going to be able to see more background on these characters via flashbacks etc, throughout the season? I'd love to gain a deeper understanding on what these women went through previously in their lives.

leisha_hailey: Sobriquet, that's a great question. I think because there are so many characters on the show, and we had only 14 episodes to shoot, that there's a lot of information that needs to be filled in, and I think there was only so much we could do in one season. But that's what's so exciting about getting picked up for a second season. Now that you know the characters on one level, by next season, when you learn more about them, it will be that much more exciting. And p.s., yes, there are some flashbacks.

buddy: Do you have a significant other in your real life? What does he/she think about your role?

leisha_hailey: Buddy, yes I do. I'm very much in love. She's very supportive of the show and very excited to see me doing something so special. But I gotta say, the long distance is wearing.

flashyheels: Were you surprised when Showtime renewed the show so soon?

leisha_hailey: No I wasn't surprised at all, because from the beginning they've been behind the show 100 percent. And I think they're just as excited to be at the forefront of a subject matter that's so cutting-edge. I think they realize there's been a void in tv for gays and lesbians, because they've already show the support in "Queer as Folk."

billarox: Do you feel that, like Dana's character, many athletes and actors in high profile professions are being forced to stay quiet about who they are?

leisha_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.

nichole: If you could make the President watch one episode of the show, which one would you choose? Or which storyline? And why?

leisha_hailey: Well, if I could have the control to sit him down for one show, I might as well make him watch the whole season. I can't necessarily pick which character I would make him watch, because I feel like each character and each storyline has something to offer, and that through those characters he might learn something.

fembutch1: I understand that a few of the cast members live near each other does that help in your working relationship.

leisha_hailey: Fembutch, yes, it was a huge help. Because we were all uprooted, mostly from Los Angeles, into Vancouver, it felt like a tiny town. It helped all of us to be able to go to each other's apartments or houses and cook dinner and watch movies and bicycle around and just be girlfriends. It felt like sleep away camp when I was a kid.

flamenco: The opening scene of every episode doesn't seem to involve the characters on the show. Is it supposed to be a form of social commentary that sets the tone of the episode?

leisha_hailey: Flamenco, if you watch closely, the random acts that happen at the top of each episode, eventually tie in somehow to the storyline. Sometimes it's really obvious and sometimes it's harder to figure out. But that's what's so cool about it.

rychusbabe: The QAF cast tours the country making appearances at Pride festivals... do you think the cast of the L word will be gracing our celebrations this summer?

leisha_hailey: I sure hope so. Gay pride festivals are so much fun. I've been to tons of them because my band used to play a lot of them. Actually, one of my biggest wishes that I keep telling Ilene about, is that i want the whole cast to go to the Women's Michigan Music Festival. I don't know if you've ever been, but it's a complete blast. I would love to film an episode there.

itsinthekiss: Leisha, do you read the message boards like Mia had indicated on the last chat?

leisha_hailey: Yes I do. I try not to look at it too much because sometimes it feels overwhelming. It's so exciting to hear what people are thinking about the show, it makes you feel like a fly on the wall. But we've all talked about it, and we're going to try not to read it so much, because sometimes the negative sticks in your head, and I think that could carry into the second season when we're up there. You could have too many opinions ringing in your head.

snoopy1214: You are a very inspiring person, do you have any advice to people wanting to come out?

leisha_hailey: Snoopy, that's so sweet of you to say, thank you. I guess giving advice seems silly coming from me. All I can really offer is that I believe when you're true to yourself people respect you more and treat you differently. I've only had good things happen to me because of being out. It's moved me forward personally and professionally. And I have my parents to thank for that, because they always taught me to be honest with myself. And that whatever I was in life was gonna have great outcomes as long as I was truthful.

velvetboo22: I think the show is great because it steers away from so many stereotypes. How do you feel about being part of such a great, break through show?

leisha_hailey: Velvetboo22, It's honestly one of the biggest thrills of my life. I've always wanted to be a part of something really important, and I never really knew what that was going to end up being. So the fact that I'm a part of the first lesbian series on tv fills me with great pride.

cyndy: So here is a question for you... do you prefer your new blonde hair to your dark strands prior?

leisha_hailey: That's really funny. I actually went blonde just for fun before I auditioned for this part, so that's how the casting directors met me, so they all assumed I was a real blonde and wanted me to stay like that for Alice. But I actually like myself as a brunette because that's how I know myself, and it just feels like me. I would actually like to buzz it off, but I know I don't have enough time to grow it out for second season.

wow: When did you first realize you were gay, and how was your coming out process???

leisha_hailey: Wow, I started having feelings for my best friend in high school, but I wasn't sure what any of it meant. But immediately after high school I moved to New York City, and I used to go to a bar called the Cubbyhole, which is now Henrietta Hudson's, after school all by myself. I had a fake ID cuz I was only 18, and I guess you could say I just entered into the world of women. And then eventually in that year when I realized that all this meant I was gay, I told my mom and dad first. And then it was really no problem to come out to any of my friends. But I have to say it was really fun sending women beers across the bar.

blkandwhte: Where can we send you and the other cast members fan letters?

leisha_hailey: Gosh, I have no idea. I guess for now you could send them to the message board, and I could have Showtime maybe tell you guys where you can send fan letters. It's probably going to end up being the production office in Canada, but don't quote me on that, because i have no idea.

sho_moderator: Any closing comments?

leisha_hailey: I can't believe the chat's over! That flew by. I guess I just want to say thank you very very much for watching the show and supporting the show. Keep the faith! We all care so much, like I said, and we hope that we're doing you justice. You guys are great, and thanks again. It was great chatting with you.

sho_moderator: Thank you for chatting with Leisha Hailey.




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