Lena Hall's roots lie in musical theater — she achieved her breakthrough in the middle of the 2010s when she starred in the 2013 Broadway adaptation of the 2005 film Kinky Boots and took home a Tony for her role in the 2014 production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. By that point, she had been working for 15 years on-stage and onscreen, acting and fronting a rock band called the Deafening, establishing herself as a versatile talent and laying the groundwork for her success in the 2010s.
The child of a pair of ballet dancers, Lena Hall was born Celina Consuela Gabriella Carvajal on January 30, 1980. Raised in San Francisco, she began performing at an early age — she sang for Pope John Paul II at his appearance at Candlestick Park in 1987 — and attended performing arts schools as a teen. She headed out to New York in 1999, landing the part of Demeter in Cats. For the next few years, she cycled through a variety of roles — Radiant Baby in 2003, Dracula the Musical in 2004, Tarzan in 2006 — while occasionally taking part in touring productions of well-known musicals. In 2008, she dipped her toe into the waters of film and television, getting a bit part in Sex & the City, a role on the soap All My Children, and showing up on the reality TV competition Legally Blonde: The Musical — The Search for Elle Woods, lasting all of five episodes.
Over the next few years, Carvajal worked steadily on-stage and onscreen, forming the band the Deafening during this time; the group released its debut album, Central Booking, in 2012. Carvajal changed her name to Lena Hall in 2013. This was around the same time her Broadway career began to take off, starting with her role as Nicola in the Tony Award-winning musical Kinky Boots. She followed this up by playing Yitzhak in the 2014 production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a role that earned her the Tony for Best Featured Actress. In the wake of this success, she toured with the traveling company of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, where she played Yitzhak on most nights but spent one night a week playing Hedwig.
Hall's success with Hedwig opened the doors for other artistic pursuits. She released her debut solo album, Sin & Salvation: Live at the Carlyle, in 2015, the same year that she appeared on the TV show Good Girls Revolt. In 2016, she appeared on HBO's Girls, and the following year she had the role of Pip in the play How to Transcend a Happy Marriage and filmed a movie called Becks. In 2018, she released a series of EPs titled Obsessed. Kicking off with selections from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, she later issued an artist-specific cover set for each month of the year, showcasing her favorites by artists such as Radiohead, David Bowie, Muse, P!nk, Elton John, Beck, and more. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine