Leah Cairns was born on June 2nd, 1974, in North Vancouver and was raised in Kamloops BC. The name Leah comes from the song "Leah" by Roy Orbison that her mother liked. At the age of 3 Leah started dancing, which became her biggest passion for the next 13 years. She first tried ballet, but wasn't very good at it and wasn't allowed to compete. She changed to jazz and tap, which turned out to be a great choice and she successfully competed for many years. Her career as a dancer came to an abrupt end when she was hit by a drunk driver at the age of 16. The car Leah was in was completely demolished and she had broken her back. Leah was in the hospital for a month and had major back surgery. She had to wear a brace for three months, but this didn't stop her from sneaking out to a local fitness club (because she couldn't go to her own dance school). As soon as he brace came off, she returned to her old dance school and finished the year dancing with her old dance troop. Not giving her back a chance to heal, Leah had done major damage to it and she couldn't compete in the North American Championship, something she dreamt of ever since she started dancing.
While the rest of her dance troop competed at this, she decided not to stay at home and mope about it. During her spring break, at the age of 16, Leah went on an environmental research trip to Costa Rica and caught the travel bug. She accepted that everything happened for a reason and obviously wasn't meant to become a dancer. She dreamt of travelling to every country in the world and spent 8 years backpacking, while studying Environmental Science at University in between. She travelled 8 out of 10 years and visited 36 countries. In India Leah volunteered at a children's home with over 100 children and in Japan she created an English course for babies and toddlers, which she taught.
Years of carrying a backpack, travelling on buses and sleeping on shoddy mattresses finally caught up to Leah. Her back was in terrible condition and she knew that she should cut her travel plans short and return to Canada. On her long way back to Bombay where she would have to fly from, she decided to give her back some rest and visit an ashram. An activities board mentioned all sorts of spiritual events that she had never heard of; fortunately her attention was caught by an improv night. While surprised that improv was offered at an ashram, Leah was more relieved to actually recognize an event! She joined the improv class and was immediately pushed up on stage. Leah was so good in the skit that the acting teacher assumed she was an actress. When she told him she was not he insisted that she stay at the ashram and take his acting course. Still in a lot of pain Leah explained that she was on her way back to Canada to get her back looked at. Not willing to let her miss his class, the teacher bargained with her. If he could find people at the ashram to fix her back, would she stay? Her answer was yes, and within days Leah was feeling well enough to stay in India. During the acting course an actress from Vancouver, who also was in this ashram, told Leah that she should really pick up acting. Being on stage her entire life as a dancer, she felt good on stage and thought she might try it as a hobby upon returning to Canada.
Leah returned to Canada 8 months later and enrolled in an acting class. Only intending on acting as a hobby she was initially turned away from the class as it was only for professionals. A month later, however, the instructor mistakenly called Leah and invited her to attend. She did. By the end of her first class she decided to try acting professionally and a career was born. Her first starring role was on the movie Thralls (aka Blood Angels) where she played the role of Leslie a sexy, ass kicking half vampire. She has appeared in numerous TV shows, including The Chris Isaak Show, Tru Calling, Supernatural, and Saved. She appeared along side Bradley Cooper and Jason Priestly in I Want To Marry Ryan Banks, a TV movie that spoofed reality TV shows.
Leah starred as Jenna in the popular Canadian series Godiva's, a waitress and aspiring dancer, a role she could really relate to. She had worked in restaurants all over the world and served tables upon retuning to Vancouver when trying to find work as an actress. So,it's kind of funny that her first serious work as an actress turned out to be a waitress serving tables. Her mother had bought her a Chihuahua for her birthday on the day she landed this job and therefore it was decided to name it Godiva (in stead of Mr. Farley which was a ridiculous name for a girl dog anyway).
Missing numerous auditions for the thriller 88 Minutes, because she was either working on Godiva's or Battlestar Galactica, Leah was finally able to meet after working hours with both the casting director and Jon Avnet the director. Jon Avnet was looking for inspiration to create a more interesting opening scene, which required a dancer. After the three brain stormed together, they created a very memorable opening to the movie. Leah didn't realise until much later that she had actually booked the part as well! How did it feel to work with Al Pacino? After filming her dance scene with Pacino, Leah threw her arms in the air and announced, "I'm done! I quit! It can't get any better than this!"
Leah worked with Matt Dallas and Jaimie Alexander on season two of Kyle XY as the tough and sarcastic Emily Hollander. Her character was sadly written out halfway through the season. She also starred next to Amanda Tapping on the webvideo project Sanctuary as the witch Tatha. She filmed the movie Helen in September/October 2007, starring Ashley Judd and Goran Visnjic, which came out in October 2008.
Leah Cairns founded her own production company in 2004 called Arabesque Pictures with Orsolya Szabo, another ex-dancer, turned world traveler, turned actor with dreams of creating films that move, inspire and motivate growth. They have just finished their first documentary called Lélek. Lélek, from the Hungarian word for spirit and soul, is a private portrait of terminal illness and the search for alternative healing. The film documents a father's last months living with cancer and chronicles his daughter's frantic attempts to fight his death with raw food dieting and videotape. From communist Transylvania to Nevada's Black Rock Desert. This intimately complex video diary juxtaposes youthful hedonism with inevitable mortality. Part travelogue and part elegy, Lélek captures some of the most shattering moments of a family's life. It's was submitted to some festivals and premiered at the Raw Food Film Festival in West Hollywood, CA in March 2007. Leah would love to do more documentaries and wants to bring her camera to India one day and do some work over there.
Leah was married in 2004 to Kevin Hawryluk. Among the guests at the wedding were good friends and Battlestar Galactica colleagues Paul Campbell (Billy Keikeya) and Colby Johannson (Lt. Dwight "Flat-Top" Saunders). Leah has one younger sister, Lindsay, who was a model. Her mother works with mentally challenged seniors and her father is a salesman. Leah's hobbies include scuba diving, rock climbing, horseback riding, skiing and salsa dancing. Her favourite quote: "You have to have a bad day to know when you're having a good day."
In May 2009, after a one and a half year struggle, Leah and Kevin became the proud parents of a then one year old boy from Ethiopia, named Bodhi. In October 2011 the family was expanded by the birth of their twin girls, Aura and Kaia.