Hayley Orrantia may not have been a household name before starring as Erica Goldberg on The Goldbergs, but she is sure to steal our attention for the next few years while earning a place on many country playlists. Her warm nature and voice are winning over fans from around the world. We were fortunate enough to speak with her about her budding acting and singing career, as well as her upcoming role in the sequel to God’s Not Dead.
Cliché: What is it like being on The Goldbergs?
Hayley Orrantia: It’s fun, but it can also be a bit exhausting. I work nearly every day with long hours, but I’m fortunate enough to work with some of the funniest people. I really can’t complain much.
The character of Erica is based off Eric Goldberg, the brother of the show’s creator. How do you feel about playing someone who had their gender flipped for the show? Did it make it hard to try and figure out who Erica is as a person?
It doesn’t really bother me because I wouldn’t have had a job without it. [Laughs] I think the thing about Erica is that she is very loosely based on the real Eric Goldberg. [The writers] have always been very flexible with her characterization. For instance, the fact that Erica sings is something that I suggested because I am a singer outside the show. Everyone was very open to making that happen and building Erica as a separate person from Eric because they had wanted to switch the genders from early on. I personally love playing her. She’s very fun to play.
Have you ever met Eric?
I have. He and his family are so nice. They have been on the set a couple times now.
The series really took off last year. Did you think it was going to get as big as it did?
I had hopes and have a lot of faith in it. I would personally watch a series like The Goldbergs even if I wasn’t on it. But there is the element of, “Wow, people really resonate with this show.” I see that when I run into people on the street and they say how much they love the show. It’s still not real to me. It takes me a while to realize what they are talking about before it hits me. It’s really a big thing.
Aside from being on the X-Factor, what has been one of the scariest things you’ve ever done?
I actually think it may be X-Factor. It was not necessarily stage fright, but going out with the girls I had been grouped with [was challenging since] it wasn’t a natural thing for us to be performing together. It made us all nervous since it was our first time working with each other and we had to perform to such a big audience. It was also the first time I had been critiqued by people that were very well-respected in the industry. That, for me, was the scariest thing I had ever had to deal with.
Since you love to sing, I bet we can expect an album to come out soon. What kind of genre will it be? Do you have any ideas about when it will be coming out?
It will be country-pop. I have already released two of the songs that will appear on the album and a Spanish song. They are “Love Sick,” “Until Then,” and the Spanish version, “Hasta Verte.” I am working on a music video to the song “Gettin’ Back Sunday,” which I’ll release as soon as I am able. I am an independent artist currently. I am not attached to a label, and for me, that has made it a bit of a challenge to put out more original music. It will be a slow progress.
Aside from working on an album, you are set to appear in the sequel to the sleeper hit God’s Not Dead. How do you feel about following up such a big hit that was God’s Not Dead?
I don’t even think that the crew working on the first film knew how big the movie was going to be. Honestly, I hadn’t seen the movie before I got the offer to appear in the second one, so I sat down to watch God’s Not Dead before I agreed to be a part of the sequel. I could see how great a film it was and understood why it had moved so many people. A lot of people I knew were talking to me about how much they loved the film, so, in a way, I felt very pulled to be a part of this project. I am very glad I agreed to it. This is a very different character for me to play and I had never been in an actual movie like that before. Being able to kind of tell the story of what God means in my life was a great thing for me to do.
Can you tell us a little about the sequel?
The movie is mostly about where God stands within our society today and the fact that, in our school systems, it is frowned upon to talk about, or bring up, religion in the classrooms. That is something that I could relate to and was excited to further the conversation. It has an amazing cast and I believe it will do very well.
Do you have a favorite moment from filming?
I think it would have to be when I had to go back to Little Rock, Arkansas for a reshoot. There was a moment in the church where my character comes to the realization that God is real and she wants to follow. I guess you could call it a “coming to Jesus moment.” I don’t know. There was something in the room and the scripted word. There was a point where it stopped being acting for me and I cried. Thankfully, they caught it on camera, and I hope they use it, but it was a very real moment for me. I truly felt that I had connected with God.
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–By Brittany Huskey
Hayley Orrantia on ‘The Goldbergs’ and Her Music Career: Photographed by Kevin Thomas Photography