Hall was born Celina Consuela Gabriella Carvajal in San Francisco, California on January 30, 1980 to Carlos and Carolyn (née Houser) Carvajal. Her father is a ballet dancer, choreographer and the co-artistic director for the annual San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, her mother was a prima ballerina and is now a yogi master.
She has Filipino, Spanish, and Swedish ancestry through her father. Her paternal grandfather arrived from the Philippines to San Francisco in 1926, and her paternal grandmother is Swedish. Her sister is Calliope "Calli" Carvajal, a hair stylist.
She is a graduate of Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, where she first studied dance, and an alumna of the Young People's Teen Musical Theatre Company in San Francisco.
Her first big break was singing for Pope John Paul II at Candlestick Stadium in San Francisco for over 50,000 people at the age of 7.
Hall changed her professional name from "Celina Carvajal" to Lena Hall in 2013, saying she had created it for her music persona and now wanted to use it for her acting career as well. She explained her name change to Broadway.com: “Multiple people in the industry suggested I have one name for everything. [Lena Hall] is just two shortenings of my first name and my last name. So Lena Hall is Celina Carvajal. It seemed like an easier way of people getting to know me. Lena Hall is a nice symmetrical name, and it reminds people of Lena Horne, who was a singer. And when people hear my name, I want them to think of a singer". She later found out that "Carvajal" is actually a stage name taken seven generations back and kept it as a family name. Hall told that it was one of the reasons why she was able to let go of the Carvajal name because it was a stage name, and it felt like her ancestors would agree with her name change.
Hall made her Broadway debut in 1999 in Cats, taking over the role of Demeter after first performing in the national tour in 1998. She next took over the role of Ann "Anytime Annie" Reilly in 42nd Street. She also performed in a national tour of Annie Get Your Gun, understudying the lead role.
In 2003, Hall appeared in Radiant Baby, a musical about artist Keith Haring, in various roles. In 2004 she was in the original ensemble of Dracula, the Musical, and was the understudy for Kelli O'Hara as Lucy Westenra. In 2006 she was in the original ensemble of the musical Tarzan, and was also the understudy for Jennifer Gambatese as Jane Porter.
In 2008, she competed in the reality show Legally Blonde: The Musical – The Search for Elle Woods, in which she was the 3rd contestant eliminated, and starred in the Off-Broadway musicals Green Eyes, and Bedbugs!!!, in which she played the role of Carly at the New York Musical Theatre Festival.
In 2009, she was the understudy for Leslie Kritzer in the role of Monica P. Miller in the musical Rooms: A Rock Romance. Also in 2009, she took over the lead role of Sarah in the musical The Toxic Avenger at the New World Stages.
In 2011, she performed as Daughter of the Ocean in the musical Prometheus Bound, inspired by Aeschylus's Ancient Greek tragedy, at the American Repertory Theater, and also appeared as Blaze in the musical Chix6. In 2013, Hall originated the role of Nicola (played on film by Jemima Rooper) in the musical Kinky Boots, which won the Tony Award for Best Musical.
In 2013, her band The Deafening released an album with original songs titled "Central Booking".
In 2014, Hall was cast as Yitzhak in the Broadway production Hedwig and the Angry Inch, (a role previously played off-Broadway by Miriam Shor) opposite Neil Patrick Harris, for which she won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. She left the role on April 4, 2015, after playing Yitzhak opposite Harris, Michael C. Hall, Andrew Rannells and John Cameron Mitchell as Hedwig. In 2016 she was cast in the national tour of Hedwig, which opened on October 2, 2016, reprising her role as Yitzhak, and for one performance a week, playing the title role of Hedwig for a total of eight performances, making her the first actor to play both roles in the same production. She played the roles in San Francisco and Los Angeles alongside Glee star Darren Criss.
On 28 September 2015, Hall released her first solo album, "Sin & Salvation: Live At the Carlyle", featuring Hall's renditions of songs from artists such as Led Zeppelin, Tori Amos, Hozier, and James Brown. The album was recorded at the legendary Carlyle Hotel during Hall's musical show "Sin & Salvation", which ran for two weeks.
Her TV work include 9 episodes in All My Children in the role of Treena in 2009, Juicy Lucy in Good Girls Revolt (2015), the voice of Countess Coloratura/Rara in the 115th episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, titled "The Mane Attraction". In 2016, Hall played a seductive yoga instructor in an episode of the HBO series Girls. She also performs the songs along with Tony Vincent for the fictional band "Dog Gone" in the 2015 PBS series Nature Cat.
She has appeared in five movies: Sex and the City (2008), The Graduates (2008), Born from the Foot (2009), The Big Gay Musical (2009) and Becks (2017), in which she plays the title role and her first leading role in a feature film.
In 2017, Hall starred in the role of Pip in the Off-Broadway play How to Transcend a Happy Marriage by Sarah Ruhl, opposite Marisa Tomei.Central Booking (2012) - with The Deafening
Sin & Salvation: Live At the Carlyle (2015) - solo