June 10, 2020 Interview – Hayley Orrantia
When you are kid you have dreams of what you want to do when you grow up. We are told, for the most part, our dreams are obtainable, but how many of us really even fathom them coming true? Falling in love with music at a very young age, Hayley Orrantia realized pretty quickly it was something that defined her, however, never imagined it being a career. Now all these years later, she is in the thick of a career in entertainment, not only as a singer-songwriter, but also an easily recognized actress.
Finding success on the highly popular ABC sitcom The Goldbergs, Orrantia has been an intricate part of the endearing Goldberg family. Portraying the role of Erica Goldberg, her true self bleeds through as a naturally caring, down to earth individual with a knack for comedy. Feeling privileged and appreciative for everything, she recently sat down to offer a closer look into her career in music, becoming an actress, future plans, plus more.
Cryptic Rock – Music has been an intricate part of your life since a young age. While pursuing it professionally, you have also found success as an actress. First, tell us, what inspired you to pursue a career in entertainment?
Hayley Orrantia – It’s tough. I feel like I started doing it so young that I don’t even know if I realized at the time it was going to be an option to be a career. I decided it how kids decide to join the soccer or football team; I don’t know if they necessarily assume at 9 years old if they are going to go into it professionally. It was very similar with me and music. I was singing along with the radio, and my parents said, “We know you like singing, do you want to start taking lessons?”
From there it became, not only something I did in school, choir, or at home, but it became something I was really taking the time to do it as an extracurricular thing. One thing lead to another and it just became what it is today. I would say around the age of 14 or 15 I started to make connections with people in the industry where I said, “Okay, this definitely could be a career path for me.” I guess you could say I got started a little earlier than some others.
Cryptic Rock – Very cool. It has developed into something special for you. What about acting? How did that come about for you?
Hayley Orrantia – Acting fell into my lap in a very unique way. I never intended to be an actress; I always wanted to do music, focus my time/energy on songwriting, and become an artist. It wasn’t until around 14 or 15 , through the connections I made, I was able to get in the door with some record labels. While they were very supportive and excited about what could come, they said, “It would really help for us to want to sign you at this age if you had a built-in platform like a television show.” That was very odd to me because I was not at all familiar with trying to be an actress. There was an acting school in my home town that had great success with people coming out of it like Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez doing the Disney Channel thing.
To make a long story short, I started taking classes and it became a thing where I started going on auditions. I want to say around after five years of that I got the audition for The Goldbergs. From there I’ve fallen in love with acting and I love doing it; I would even say as much as I love music at this point. I try to find time to juggle the two because it’s hard pick just one at this point.
Cryptic Rock – That is a good problem to have. As far as your music, you released your The Way Out EP in 2019 which features some extremely personal songs. You also recently released some new singles including “Find Yourself Somebody” and “Made For This.” First and foremost, what was it like putting the EP together?
Hayley Orrantia – That was a very emotional time for me, in general. I went through something that I would consider dramatic, and I knew I needed to make music. I needed to not only get it out through so many different forms of therapy, but music had to be one that took priority.
I got together with a couple friends of mine who were songwriters. I just had been doing a round of songwriting in Nashville, but not really knowing what I was writing toward yet. It wasn’t until this magic moment I had in a songwriting session, where we wrote “If I Don’t,” when I realized I want to direct my energy at getting everything I’ve been feeling from this specific experience out. I thought it would just be one song, but it evolved into an entire EP; I had a lot to say on the subject. (Laughs) It was nice to be able to wrap that up into one package and put it behind me.
I was able to get it out and it’s really awesome to see how it resonates with different people with very different stories, but all with the same aftermath of feelings. That was a very important EP for me and my musical journey. It has led me to this moment where I’m exploring storylines of all kinds. The most recent songs, “Made For This,” is about my mom and our relationship and “Find Yourself Somebody” is about ex and having a mutual breakup. I’m glad it’s out, it’s good that it’s behind me.
Cryptic Rock – It sounds like it was a therapeutic release for you, especially after enduring so much heartache. Let’s talk about “Made For This,” a really beautiful song. As you mentioned about your mom, what was the inspiration to put it into a song?
Hayley Orrantia – Speaking on the same event that inspired The Way Out EP, during that time, I saw my mom struggling with not really knowing how to help me get through that difficult time; other than showing me love and being there for me. I wanted to write her a song that expressed to her my confidence in being able to get past that difficult time. She pretty much gave me all the great things I needed as a foundation to get past something like that. I wanted to write the song for her in a way to comfort her in that time.
I have a quote that is hanging in my living room in a piece of art my mother gave me a couple of years ago. It is a Joan of Arc quote that says, “I am not afraid… I was born to do this.” That ended up becoming the hook of the chorus. I think it is the epitome of what I was trying to get across to her, which was she gave me everything I needed to get past such a difficult time.
Cryptic Rock – It is very touching to hear the story behind it. You have the EP out and these new songs, but can we expect a full-length album soon?
Hayley Orrantia – That has been a difficult question for me for a while. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go the single route, just put out a few individual songs over a few months, and see where that led. It got to the point, once the quarantine started, that I wanted to focus on writing an album. I think once the quarantine is done and I’m able to get out there and co-write again, because that is where I feel I thrive, I hope I can then focus my energy on an album.
Cryptic Rock – That is good news and something to look forward to. Genres are so limiting, but how would you describe your music?
Hayley Orrantia – I agree, genres are very limiting. I get asked that question a lot and it has always been very difficult for me to answer. It seems like people want you to have a very specific answer, as if you have to be defined by these boundaries. I’ve been influenced by so many drastically different songs, sounds, and artists that I take pieces where I feel necessary. For me it’s always just been about being lyrical driven.
Some of my songs have more of a Pop feel to them, while some others are very singer-songwriter. I would say, if anything, I love laying in the Country music world. They know how to really tell a story and they are not afraid to dive into very vulnerable emotions; something I love doing. I am also very influenced by Pop music and the way songs are written in that form. I also love big vocals, a lot of strings, and being very dramatic. I’ve heard many people describe it being a surreal Country Pop, which I don’t hate. I would say if I had to put a couple of words on it, I would pick that.
Cryptic Rock – Understood. Sometimes if someone tells you ‘this is what your music is,’ you want to be the opposite of that. Most people do not want to be labeled.
Hayley Orrantia – Right. I don’t think anyone wants to be labeled; they want to find their own sound. It’s hard sometimes to just define what it is. In a lot of ways genres in music can be based on someone’s perception of what they think it is. It’s a difficult question to answer.
Cryptic Rock – Absolutely. Beyond the music, you also have The Goldbergs. You have had a great deal of success with the series just concluding its seventh season. What has your time on the show been like?
Hayley Orrantia – It has honestly been such an amazing experience. It’s crazy that time has flown by in the way that it has, but I guess it is the cliched thing that time flies when you’re having fun. We truly have such a blast on that set. Everyone gets along and we’ve been blessed with such amazing guest stars to come on the show. All of them come in with such great energy and I think people can sense that when you watch the show.
It has been a blast for me, because I never intended for this to be my route. It’s something that has created such a beautiful foundation for me and I’m excited to see what comes out of it. The fans of this show are so dedicated and loyal. It’s so awesome to get to meet people who really resonate with this show and are so nostalgic to the ’80s. I’m very lucky, I know I am, to step into a show that has gone this long. It looks like we are definitely getting a season 8; it hasn’t been officially announced, but that’s at least what we’ve been hearing.
It’s wild. I grew up watching sitcoms like How I Met Your Mother and Friends. There are so many different shows I grew up loving that have gone into nine, ten, or even eleven seasons. To be very close to that iconic TV show length is crazy! I only hope that we can keep going into 10 or 11 seasons.
Cryptic Rock – Let’s hope so! The show is very well-written and hilarious. As someone who grew up in the ’90s, did you dig into the ’80s a little more when you were cast as Erica?
Hayley Orrantia – I kind of did. There have to be a couple of shows on television that were talking about things that happened in the ’80s, and I was able to catch a couple just in time for us to start filming. For the most part I didn’t go crazy doing research because the creator of the show, Adam F. Goldberg, is such an ’80s lover. Every ounce of what the ’80s is I feel has been poured into this show.
Over the last seven seasons I’ve been able to discover so much more about it that I didn’t know; whether it be music, movies, or just pop culture references of events I had no idea happened. Honestly, just being on the show has been such an educational experience for me as far as learning about the ’80s.
Cryptic Rock – That is really cool. You have also had an opportunity to sing on the show, as well. Has that opened some doors for you for new fans who are learning you are also a musician?
Hayley Orrantia – It’s funny, because in a lot of ways it doesn’t translate. A lot of people, as well as myself, when watching a show question if that is really someone singing or are they just being dubbed over. In many cases that has happened, but on our show, it’s definitely me or AJ (Michalka) singing. It’s funny, I get people saying, a couple of years down the line, “I had no idea you sang!” Even though they’ve seen every episode of me singing in the show. (Laughs)
As far as opening doors for me, I think a lot of ways it has though. Even if it’s just people saying, “I watch The Goldbergs and I recognize you from that.” It’s a conversation starter, it breaks the ice, and then it is a away to dive into what I’m passionate about, which is my songwriting and my music.
Cryptic Rock – That makes sense. If anything it may strike some people’s curiosity to go and check out your music.
Hayley Orrantia – Absolutely. That’s what I’m so grateful for when it comes to The Goldbergs. The fact that Adam F. Goldberg even offered to let my character sing in the show is an honor. I mentioned to him, very casually, I did music and if I could ever write a song that could be played in the credits of the show I’d be honored. Eventually season 1 came along and he let my character sing at the talent show and it ended up being such a big part of her character. I never could have fathomed that would have happened. In so many ways I’m very grateful to Adam for taking a chance and allowing that to be a part of Erica.
Cryptic Rock – And music defines Erica’s character in many ways. The Goldbergs has become a full-time gig for you with all the success. That said, do you have any other film or TV projects coming up?
Hayley Orrantia – As of right now, I don’t. I think the biggest part that has been difficult for me is when it comes to either acting or music as a career, many people, if not most, would say each requires 100% of your time, focus and energy to be successful. While I believe that to be true in many cases, for me, I’m doing both careers, and obviously I can’t put 100% energy to each at all times. I have to break that down into seasons. While The Goldbergs is filming in, say, fall or winter, I usually focus spring and summer mostly on music.
Most people in between a show would go out for movies or voiceovers auditions. While I still toss my hat into the ring and go for auditions, I really dive into songwriting, recording, and even going out on the road where I can. There isn’t much time allowed when we are filming The Goldbergs and that makes it difficult. I absolutely would love to continue to focus on acting where I can though. Once the show is over, hopefully years from now, I can start really diving in and seeing what movie opportunities are out there for me. That would be really fun for me.
Cryptic Rock – That would be great to see, but like you said, let’s hope The Goldbergs continues on into the foreseeable future. Last question. What are some of your favorite films of any genre?
Hayley Orrantia – Oh man, that’s a big question. A lot of my friend who grew up as actors are very passionate about it and they always make fun of me for loving romantic movies, in general. I’m a hopeless romantic and I love movies like The Notebook (2004) or P.S. I Love You (2007), movies that draw emotion. It’s the same with music: whether it be big ballads or vocals, I love music that draws emotion and makes you cry. For some reason I’ve always been drawn to that and romantic or romantic comedy films which tend to do that.
I think that is why I gravitate toward it. I think I, in general, love to watch TV. I’m not really a movie buff and there are a ton of classic, iconic movies my friends tease me that I’ve never seen before. I definitely need to go back and start diving into some older movies, as well.