We’ve been low-key obsessed with Leah Lewis for a while—first as the clever but conflicted teen in Netflix’s groundbreaking (and addictive) LGBTQ+ drama The Half of It; next as the flinty frenemy Georgie Fan on Nancy Drew. What we didn’t know? Beneath her complex characters, Leah is a passionate environmentalist who draws inspiration and calm from being outdoors.
Here’s what the 25-year-old told us about plugging into the planet, glamping without shame, and jaguar gymnastics.
When was the first time you felt really connected to nature?
Some people are introduced to outdoor experiences through their families, and it’s a part of their childhoods. That just wasn’t me! My family never really took me on camping trips, nor did we go out and do any crazy expeditions. My family was never really “physical,” because my parents were a bit older. But because I had such boundless energy as a kid all the time—I was like a brick of energy!—my mother would always just say, “Hey, Leah, go play outside; take all that energy out of here.” So I always felt like being outdoors, and when my parents realized it, they encouraged me to spend more time outdoors finding things I loved. And even as a kid, I found that literally just sitting in the grass brought a sense of peace for me.
If you didn’t grow up hiking or camping, how did you get into it? I feel like if you don’t know where to start, it can be hard.
Right? But you just have to do it. When I first started, I was like, “Okay, how do I get out there? How do I even go camping?” I checked out a lot of blogs and websites about camping, and I just did it. Hiking is even easier; it’s basically just a super scenic power-walk, right? You just keep gaining more knowledge each time. Also, some people would rather sleep in an RV or a cabin than a tent. Some people want a bathroom or even a shower at their campsite. And that’s okay! You find your way to do it. Don’t be afraid to look for what you need.
You write songs, take photos, and act in TV and movies. Does nature have a place in your creative process?
It definitely does! You know how nature is a kind of pause from “human” life? Well, I really like to create when I'm in nature. Interestingly enough, I don't really write that much music about nature, but by surrounding myself with it, it definitely furthers my creative thinking.
Yeah, there are tons of studies about how nature heightens our creativity! How do you experience it personally?
It brings my mind to a slower pace. I feel like we live such busy lives. And when you step out into nature, everything slows down—your inner clock resets and realigns with the natural world. Observing the details in things around me, the animals, the trees, the plants, all keeps me very present. Other than just creative inspiration, I feel like I take a lot of lessons on how to create too—you know, “Don’t rush things, take your time, think your way through what you’re making.” It really all flows!
Do you have a favorite song about nature?
Oohhhh. Anytime I think of traveling in the forest or hiking in the trees, I think of this song by Fleet Foxes called Ragged Wood
. There’s something so evocative about it and so energizing. I love it.
Please tell us your favorite animal fact.
Have you seen a jaguar eat an alligator?
Yeah. Like, holy crap. I was watching this segment on a documentary about jaguars, and these cats can literally tackle these gigantic alligators and then they drag them
up into the trees and just munch on them while lying on the branches. It was mind blowing. I couldn’t even understand how it was physically possible… and I guess it should be a meme, right? Like, “If this jaguar can drag a gator up a tree, then you can make it through Monday” or “You can drink six glasses of water a day.”
Our motto is “Let good grow wild.” What does that mean to you?
I love that so much; I actually meditated on that a little bit. For me, it sounds like, “Let things be in their natural form.” Let things take their natural course, especially when they're good. Stop trying to control every little thing before we give it the chance to lovingly lead the way. If we sit back sometimes and let the good in the world move through us, and do its thing, instead of being obsessed with control, we can be really surprised, in a wonderful way.