Leslie Ezelle is a former Dallas Cowboy cheerleader, a lesbian mother of four and a breast cancer survivor. She participated in HGTV's Design Star in its sixth season (won by Chicago interior designer Meg Caswell). Windy City Times spoke with the designer.
Windy City Times: Hey, Leslie. How are you?
Leslie Ezelle: Great. I am on vacation in Cape Cod. Libby and I were married here in a little place called Chatham where she grew up with her adopted family. I love coming to Provincetown in Cape Cod so it was a no-brainer to get married here.
Now every year we come and vacation with the kids. I am in 70-degree weather and it is a 110 back in Dallas. It is like Africa at home and unbelievable. Right now after I finish this with you I am leaving to get on a plane to do a huge event with Susan G Komen. I can't miss it because I am the honorary chairperson for it. I have been working the whole time on the beach.
WCT: This is your time so you have to take advantage of it.
LE: Exactly. I tell her this a time-sensitive issue and non negotiable. There will be other times to come to Cape Cod and film getting a house redone. That is the dream.
WCT: How long have you been together?
LE: In 2005 we met; then, in 2008, we were married. She is in the investment business and the weekend we were married the market crashed. December of that year I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Since we met we have had an ass whipping until now and we are celebrating. We had our struggles because it was two years of breast cancer stuff.
WCT: How are you health-wise now?
LE: I am great. After I was diagnosed in 2008 I did six weeks of radiation. After that I didn't do well with reconstructive surgery. I kept getting infected and spent three weeks in the hospital. It was a mess and stretched over a two-year time period. This last December was my last surgery. I started filming the show in March.
WCT: That's a whirlwind!
LE: Libby said that if I wound up sick in the hospital that we would pull the plug on the whole reality show thing. I managed to be okay and move heavy furniture.
WCT: How did you become involved in the show?
LE: I credit breast cancer for that. I hit rock bottom and started asking all these soul searching questions like "What do I want to be when I grow up?" I realized that not only did I want my own design firm but my own show so that I can combine my love of entertaining with design on a more powerful scale. The other thing I am passionate about is changing the face of gay. There is a stereotype and the former Dallas Cowboy cheerleader is not your normal look for a gay female. I would like to become a role model for the women folk out there. I hate to be in a little box.
WCT: So you have your own business now?
LE: Yes, I got that right before breast cancer. I always wind up doing the offices of straight men. They work well with me because they like working with a woman that shoots straight. I design for bachelors to make their pads a chick magnet now.
WCT: I watched Design Star and saw the paint spill on the carpet.
LE: I swore that was a can of putty and it was closed. Black paint went everywhere and it was a miracle it came out with hot water. I couldn't believe it.
WCT: That's a good tip. So don't rub it in.
LE: No, blot that out.
WCT: You framed carpets on [a recent] episode.
LE: How about that? I pulled that totally out of my ass. All of my creative ideas come at the eleventh hour. It works well on Design Star but not so much in life.
WCT: Is it hard working on teams like that challenge [involved]?
LE: Not if you are working with someone like Tyler. If you are working with OmarosaI mean, Cathythen you get your ass handed to you about every five minutes!
WCT: She is always shopping on the show.
LE: Oh my gosh! Not only that, but she will harp on you. I have never heard my name called so many times. She said one time "Leslie, for the grace of God…" I thought she is going to bring God into a room about pillows? You have to be kidding me! I tried to be friends with her but it didn't work. She didn't want backstabbing but I told her everything to her face. I let her be the meany and I moved out of the way. If you work with someone like that it is a buzzkill. Your creativity just goes out the window.
WCT: Doing the camera challenge is tough, right?
LE: Before I did the show I thought that was going to be a cakewalk. I have been in front of the camera before so totally comfortable there. But you have to write your own damn script. That was not easy for me. I wasn't able to edit myself to get it down to just bullet points. I sucked eggs on that but other than that I was relaxed and natural for the camera.
WCT: What are you working on after the show?
LE: You will see on my website that I have a huge gigantic metal bra made out of straps for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. We are working on her right now and making a documentary about her. The whole slogan is "you can't strap a good woman down." This 1950s bra is going to tour Dallas, then bust out of Texaspun intendedthen make a tour around the country. The business that she arrives at will turn pink for that month so be looking for her in Chicago. Her name is Annie.
WCT: I will look for you, your wife and a bra named Annie blowing into the Windy City soon, pun intended!
For more on Leslie's designs and business visit www.lesliechristinedesigns.com . To hear more on the HGTV show try www.hgtv.com .