The L Word premiered on Showtime on January 18, 2004, and for six seasons, we tuned in every Sunday night to the drama, scandal, and sexcapades of Los Angeles queer women. Will Bette and Tina stay/get back together? Who will Shane hook up with this week? Will Jenny ever get it together? Wait, isn’t Alice bisexual? These were just a few of the thoughts that ran through our minds on any given Sunday.
The impact of showrunner Ilene Chaiken’s characters is undeniable. The series helped change TV’s LGBTQ landscape forever, even if The L Word got a lot wrong sometimes (see any number of bisexual storylines that were abandoned).
We now see lesbian, bisexual, and trans characters on various television platforms from Orange Is the New Black Transparent to The Bold Type with increasing regularity. Still, the writers and actresses of The L Word were pioneers in conveying the lives of queer women and in also depicting women as sexual beings.
The L Word wrapped in 2009, and since then the actresses who gave us indelible characters like Bette Porter, Tina Kennard, Shane McCutcheon, Jenny Schecter, and Alice Pieszecki have gone on to a myriad of other projects. Now, 15 years later, and with an official sequel confirmed on the horizon, we check in on some of the cast.
Since hanging up her power suits and super hot art history rhetoric as Bette Porter, Beals has worked pretty continually. Since 2009 she enjoyed a multi-episode arc on Lie to Me before landing the lead as a tough-talking police chief on Fox's short-lived The Chicago Code. Fans were beyond excited when Beals starred alongside Troian Bellisario (Pretty Little Liars) in the heavy-hitting web series Lauren, about military rape.
On the big screen she starred in an indie set in the world of jazz, The Lord of Vinyl, and in The White Orchid, a noir crime thriller costarring Olivia Thirlby (Juno) and L Word alum Janina Gavankar (Papi). She costarred in the indie Cinemanovels with another L Word alum, Lauren Lee Smith (Lara), in 2013. She also appeared in the 2017 indies White Orchid and Before I Fall.
Recently, Beals starred in NBC's Taken and in Amazon's adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Last Tycoon. She's currently filming Swamp Thing, based on the DC Comics character.
Multitalented, Beals also went on to release a "photographic journal" of photos she took behind the scenes of the show titled The L Word Book. A vocal supporter of LGBTQ rights, the actress received the Human Rights Campaign’s Ally for Equality Award. She also joined protesters at Standing Rock in 2016 to try to halt the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
After popping up on TVs Swingtown and CSI, and in Tom Ford’s directorial debut, A Single Man, Daniels made the ladies happy with an appearance on Rizzoli and Isles. She also costarred in the Jonah Hill comedy The Sitter and with Emma Watson in Sofia Coppola’s critically acclaimed The Bling Ring (pictured above). She had a recurring role on the Logo series DTLA as a relationship therapist. After slowing down on acting for a bit, Daniels, who is a mom, began making guest appearances on TV and in short films. In 2018 she appeared in the indie De'Vyne and the horror flick Animal Among Us.
Rollins played Alice’s girlfriend, the sexy military police officer who refused to serve in silence. Since The L Word, the model-turned-actress has costarred in NBC's Chase alongside SVU’s Kelli Giddish and had a recurring role on Bosch. She also appeared in the critically acclaimed Southland, Nikita, and NCIS.
On the big screen, she appeared in POWER UP'S Girltrash: All Night Long and played the White House press secretary in Pixels.
Rollins recently starred as a regular cast member on the Shondaland thriller The Catch. Next up, she costars with Katie Holmes in the TV movie No Apologies.
Audiences first fell for Holloman as the baby butch Randy Dean in The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love (1995). That adoration only intensified as she came to embody Tina on The L Word. Since her turn as Tina, Holloman, a mother of two, had an 18-episode stint on TeenNick's Gigantic, which costarred Meryl Streep's daughter Grace Gummer.
For the better part of the past decade, Holloman has devoted her time to her other passion, painting. She donated a series of paintings to the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Fund in Oregon. In 2012, she had two shows, in Germany and Italy, and in 2013, her piece “Swell” was added to the prestigious Venice Biennale. Two years ago, Holloman enjoyed her first solo exhibition at Menier Gallery in London. The exhibit was called “The Innocents.”
The actress who played Papi, Shane’s rival in the art of love, has been busy since The L Word ended. She’s been seen on The Vampire Diaries and The League, and she enjoyed a recurring role on HBO’s True Blood. She’s appeared with Jennifer Beals in White Orchid on the big screen, and on the queer web series from tello Films, Nikki & Nora: The N&N Files. Gavankar has also appeared on The Mysteries of Laura with Debra Messing. She recently costarred in Pee Wee's Big Holiday, The Vanishing of Sidney Hall, and on TV in Sleepy Hollow. Next up, she costars with Ben Affleck in Torrance.
L.A.’s resident player has been keeping busy! Since 2009, Katherine Moennig has starred in the short-lived Three Rivers, guested on an episode of Dexter during which she flirted with Dexter's sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter), and appeared in the star-studded Everybody’s Fine (Robert De Niro, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale), The Lincoln Lawyer (Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei), and Gone with Amanda Seyfried. Currently, Moennig stars as Lena, an out press agent, opposite Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight in the Emmy-nominated Showtime series Ray Donovan. On the big screen, she costarred in the comedy My Dead Boyfriend with queer lady favorites Gina Gershon and Heather Graham.
Just this month Moennig appeared in an all-female, super-queer reading of Casablanca with Ellen Page, Kiersey Clemons, Indya Moore, Hannah Gadsby, Olivia Wilde, and Emily Hampshire.
All these years later and we still don’t know who killed Jenny Schecter. Since The L Word, the wildly talented Kirshner has been keeping busy with indie films and several TV projects. In 2011 she made the thriller 388 Arleta Avenue with Devon Sawa and Nick Stahl. She also appeared on several episodes of the CW's hit The Vampire Diaries. She went sapphic again when she costarred with Julie Benz (Dexter) in the sci-fi, post-apocalyptic thriller Defiance. If that weren’t enough, she had a three-episode arc on the SyFy channel’s favorite show about a bisexual succubus, Lost Girl. The native of Canada also starred in Netflix’s thriller Bloodline with Kyle Chandler and Sissy Spacek. This past year, she's had a recurring role on Star Trek: Discovery.
The iconic Pam Grier has shown little sign of slowing down since her role as Bette’s big sis came to an end. She’s appeared on the big screen in Just Wright, playing Queen Latifah's mom, and in Larry Crowne, costarring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. She also starred opposite Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu in The Man With the Iron Fists and in the Ving Rhames thriller Mafia. For 2019, Grier is slated for the movie Poms, about a group of women who start a cheerleading squad at their retirement community. The movie costars Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, Rhea Perlman, and Celia Weston. Grier is also set to costar in the TV pilot Bless This Mess with Lake Bell and Dax Shepard. Coming up, she’ll star in Old School Gangstas with her Jackie Brown costar Robert Forster and Richard Roundtree of Shaft fame.
But Grier has been crushing it beyond acting. She earned a Ph.D from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. And if you’re a Grier superfan (aren’t we all), you can hunt down this amazing Pam Grier stamp that was released a year ago.
My Stamp! Namaste! pic.twitter.com/gJBgrSem8i
— Pam Grier Ph.D (@PamGrier) June 8, 2015
Leisha Hailey's Alice was a favorite throughout the L Word's run, with the character keeping tabs on everyone in L.A. with her chart. The actress still pops up on TV when she isn't on tour with her band, Uh Huh Her, often playing for throngs of women at rhe Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend. She’s appeared on prime-time hits American Dad!, CSI, Drop Dead Diva, and The New Normal. She also starred in the psychological thriller Fertile Ground. Most recently she’s been seen in Constantine, Chasing Life, Supernatural, Code Black, and Silicon Valley. The actress, who's been out throughout her career since winning hearts in 1997's All Over Me, also appeared in queer filmmaker Kim Rocco Shields's Love Is All You Need. It had been a long time since Hailey had a recurring role on a series, but in 2016 she was cast on Amazon's Bosch.
Also, she and Kate Moennig continue to be the cutest friends, as was chronicled with this post.
Since Helena Peabody bid farewell to Los Angeles, Shelley has kept busy with several TV gigs, including a stint on Showtime’s Episodes playing a California girl who hooks up with star Matt Le Blanc. Shelley, who starred in the 2001 Oscar-nominated Bollywood flm Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India, also had a five-episode arc in Thandie Newton’s cop thriller Rogue. Following that gig, she headed back across the pond to play Yvonne Rippon in the long-running U.K. series Casualty. Shelley enjoyed a two-episode arc on Once Upon a Time a few years ago and starred in the British TV series Deep State. Next up, she costars in the queer-themed project Different for Girls with Guinevere Turner.
Sarah Shahi has been working steadily following her turn as Shane’s DJ girlfriend on The L Word. Since 2009, she starred in two short-lived series — Life and Fairly Legal. She also had multi-episode arcs on several prime-time hits, including Psych, Chicago Fire, and Reverie. On the big screen, Shahi starred opposite Sarah Jessica Parker in I Don’t Know How She Does It and opposite Sylvester Stallone in the actioner Bullet to the Head, and she voiced Michelle in the animated sci-fi flick Le Congres. Beyond that, she’s starred in Game of Thrones’ Jason Momoa's drama Road to Paloma, and in the hit man thriller Guns for Hire. She even appeared in a guest spot on Kate Moennig’s series Ray Donovan. Sadly, there were no Shane and Carmen-eque moments to be had. But perhaps the most career success Shahi's enjoyed in her post-L Word life was costarring on Person of Interest as one-half of the highly shipped female couple Root and Shaw (Shahi is Shaw).
Next, she's slated for the films Language Arts and Judy Small. The latter stars Alicia Silverstone, Aisha Tyler, Haley Joel Osment, and Michaela Watkins.