Interview Series: Leisha Hailey

What is your relationship to Austin? When did you first come here? 

I first came through Austin in 1996 while I was on tour with my first band The Murmurs. Later I was lucky enough to stay for a while when I was working for my friend Liz Lambert. She had me working for the Hotel San Jose construction crew when it was being built. I helped with all the finishing work in the rooms, like installing all the hardware, assembling the handmade furniture, shelves and sliding barn doors. Back then, the only things on South Congress were the Continental Club, the hotel and a gun store. Very, very different from what it is now. We would finish work and walk across the street for a beer. 

Who are your favorite designers? The Co dress you wore in the portrait shoot looks stunning on you. 

I would never call myself a fashionista by any means, but I have a huge appreciation for design. My daily go-to is a pair of used high-waisted Wranglers and a vintage t-shirt. When I’m feeling girly I love dresses by Ulla Johnson and Doên.

You’re an actress, you can build anything, and you’re also an amazing painter. If you could only pick one to do for the rest of your life, which would it be? 

I’ve really grown to love any creative endeavor that brings me solitude. I’ve worked on transforming my garage into a woodworking and welding shop and I’ve turned a spare bedroom into a place I can go paint. I’m a novice at all of these, but I absolutely need an artistic outlet.  

We all know you from The L Word. And it’s coming back to TV after a long hiatus. Can you tell us anything about that OR is it top secret? 

Sadly, I’m not supposed to say anything about it yet but I am really looking forward to being a part of the new version of the show. We’ve come a long way both socially and culturally since the show went off the air so the storytelling will be endless. 

You also have a place in Marfa (which you can see photographed in the book Marfa Modern), Did you design the house on your own? 

I was a part of the design when it came to the building process. It started as a drawing on a napkin and went through many different manifestations before landing on what it is today. It took years to construct. It was built by Jamey Garza from Garza Marfa and it’s my home away from home.

What do you love to do when you are in Austin? Have any favorite restaurants here?

For me, Austin is about the people. I have amazing friends here. My favorite nights are the ones spent outside on a beautiful summer night with great friends and delicious wine. This is the perfect city. The food, style, music and thrifting is like no other. I love the combination of down home, grounded earthiness with a festive, artistic, freaky overtone. Definitely my kind of town. 

Interview by Alexandra Valenti