When ABC’s The Goldbergs premiered in 2013, the sitcom introduced the world to the actress Hayley Orrantia, but it wasn’t her first brush with the national spotlight. First seen in 2011 as a contestant on The X Factor, the multi-talented Orrantia looks for projects in both the acting and music worlds. The Goldbergs provides her an enviable opportunity to excel at both.
As Erica Goldberg, Hayley Orrantia explored the tumultuous life of a teenage girl set amidst a tremendous (and tremendously funny) ensemble cast. Erica bounces from extreme confidence to extreme self-doubt and back again through seven seasons of the 1980s-set sitcom. All of it conveyed with heartfelt depth and subtle humor by Orrantia.
The show will wrap its seventh season this spring having not filmed its series finale thanks to production delays incurred by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. With a season eight renewal all-but certain, Orrantia talks to Awards Daily about growing with the sitcom and keeping it fresh after many successful seasons. She also talks about the challenges of balancing the demands of music and television careers. Finally, she shares how she copes with difficult times through songwriting.
Awards Daily: You’ve played Erica Goldberg for seven seasons now. When you started the series back in 2013, did you have a sense that it would be this popular?
Hayley Orrantia: Well, I was very lucky in the way that I got this role. I had actually never been on anything like this before, so my hope was that it would do very well. I had no idea going into this what it was going to look like. With TV being what it is now and streaming being such a big thing, it’s crazy to see network shows – or shows at all – lasting seven seasons. I can’t say that I’m upset by any means. I absolutely love working on this show. To some degree, I have been surprised. This was the first screen test that I’d ever done, the first show that I’d ever booked. With all of those steps and doing a pilot and hoping that pilot gets picked up, you never really know. Every time we’d get picked up again, it’s been a surprise. It’s amazing that we’ve gone this long, and I’m honored to get to work with these people for seven years!
AD: Given the duration of the series, how do you keep things fresh with your performance?
Hayley Orrantia: That’s a tough question. I feel like the writers do an incredible job of keeping this arc of storylines. Our show is very unique in that it’s the 1980s, and it’s narrated to be a memory. So, with that, I think they do a great job of creating story arcs that allow me to challenge myself as an actor. A few seasons ago, my character went from being a very popular girl in school to having a nerdy phase where I did a lot of throwback scenes where I had braces and a lisp and was very awkward. Then, the last few years, she dropped out of college and was depressed, and now she’s back on her game. With the writing, I feel like it really helps me grow as an actor every time. They challenge me, in a way.
AD: What’s your favorite arc for Erica over the run of The Goldbergs?
Hayley Orrantia: Erica has gone through this phase of putting music on the back burner this season. Then, she finally got into an a cappella group in college, and she’s starting to kind of go back to her roots and appreciate that side of her again and rediscover her passion for music. For me being a singer/songwriter, it’s always fun for me to get to do those scenes. I would say that getting to see her come back around to that has been fun for me personally.
AD: Talking about being a singer/songwriter, do you ever find yourself in a position to make a choice between your acting or music careers?
Hayley Orrantia: I’m definitely put in that position a lot to try and have to decide. The Goldbergs does take up so much of the year. Whether you want to be an actor or a singer, both careers demand 100 percent of your focus in order for you to succeed. But given my schedule, I’m not able to do that for either. I have such a love for music that I don’t ever feel I could totally put it to the side. It has been a struggled to try and balance the two, but I think I do a good job. I always say that, if you love something, then you’re going to find the time to make it happen. The Goldbergs has been awesome as far as scheduling goes. We usually get a week off every month, so I’ll travel back to Nashville and try to focus on writing or continue to push music as much as I can. I do love doing it. As far as choosing one, it’s really hard to say, and part of that is because The Goldbergs is such an awesome, fun job. They make it very hard to choose!
AD: Given your music talents and the continued presence of musical television and film, do you ever see yourself starring in a musical? If so, is there a particular role would you like to take on?
Hayley Orrantia: I would absolutely love to do a movie musical. There’s been a handful of things that have come in and out, and I try to put my hat into the ring as much as I can. For a specific role, that’s tough. Not that I’m necessarily prepared for this role quite yet, but I love Chicago. I know they’ve already done a movie musical which would be very hard to beat, but I do love that one. I loved Wicked, again very big shoes to fill there too. I don’t know. I’ve also heard rumors of some people I know doing a country music movie, and I would love to be a part of that seeing as how I’m part of the country-pop world. That would be a perfect blend of the things that I love to do. In a perfect world, I would say I’d like to do a unique, original movie concept that allows country, country-pop, or Americana to be the music involved.
The Goldbergs airs Wednesday nights at 8 pm ET on ABC.