I’ve been a fan of ABC’s The Goldbergs for a while now. It’s a feel-good show that I can watch when I’m home from school, filled with fun ‘80s references, outfits of the era, and real life stories about helicopter parents, dating, college, and growing up. We even call our family dog “Schmoo,” taken from the mother’s nickname for her kids. The Goldbergs became one of the first shows to safely return to filming during the COVID-19 pandemic (and I’m so glad that they did).
It was March 14th, 19-eighty-something when actress, musician and businesswoman Hayley Orrantia, who's played Erica Goldberg for the past eight seasons, dished to us about her unique career journey. After speaking with Orrantia, I felt inspired. In addition to starring in a hit television show, you may know Orrantia from her expanding music career and home renovation business. Even during the pandemic, she shares how the cast got back to work producing the current hilarious season of The Goldbergs, while also tapping into her other interests.
Growing up on national television
No stranger to the spotlight, the 27-year-old actor has basically grown up with her character. Orrantia feels that her and her character Erica have gone through similar things in a weird way, similar in the same way the episodes are written and aired. The two have their unique differences, as we’ve witnessed Erica go from an awkward, nerdy middle schooler to a popular high schooler, then having everything flipped upside down with college and not knowing what to do with her life. So what’s next? “This [season], we’re seeing Erica come into herself and commit to a direction in her life, like a new apartment,” Orrantia says. “I'm excited for another episode to air where we finally see what Erica decides to do as a profession for her life – stay tuned!” Yup. I’m excited.
“Growing up on this show has been unlike anything [she] could fathom,” Orrantia says. She loves just being a part of it, as she’s a fan of the writing, casting, and the show itself. The Goldbergs has allowed her to learn from and play alongside Wendi McLendon-Covey, George Segal, and a whole slew of experienced actors that guest star. Since many networks and shows don’t last that long anymore, Orrantia feels lucky that The Goldbergs has been on air for as long as it has, and has learned life lessons through both her character and colleagues. “So, it’s been the first wild section of my twenties, to say the least!” And I’d have to agree.
Though she’s grown up on the show, she’s also pivoted there too, as there have been a lot of new protocols put in place for production of the new season. Actors get tested three times a week, with departments like costume and makeup zoned to limit exposure for crews. “It really is of the utmost importance that everyone is safe and healthy,” Orrantia says. “The crew has been working together for almost eight years, so we’re like a family, always hanging out and cracking jokes, so to limit that is sad.” There have been some unfortunately necessary changes with casting due to scheduling and COVID-19. “[But] we still get to make a show we love to be a part of (and laugh every day!),” she says.
Despite the stress and effects of the pandemic, it hasn’t been able to overshadow the joyous moments. While it was hard to pick a specific moment (duh), Orrantia admits that she loves getting to work with everyone in a scene together. “What always comes to mind is the “The Dirty Dancing Dance” episode, with the final scene in the gym. It had the majority of our recurring cast and the main Goldbergs cast, so that to me is always the best.” She notes that having lighthearted and energetic vibes off-camera improves the performance and fun on-camera.
Acting, music, and... home renovation?
Orrantia’s dad has always renovated houses, either renting them out long-term or reselling them in his hometown of Great Falls, Montana. “I grew up with stories about my great-grandfather, who built houses by himself, and my uncle picked up skills from him and now does custom woodworking, so it's been a generational thing,” Orrantia says. She decided to partner with her dad's company and take it to Nashville, where she lives part-time. “I’ve become familiar with the city and love that a lot of the neighborhoods have their own personalities,” and the market has been picking up a lot. “My mother is a realtor and my dad is the general contractor, so my job is to pick mixtures and do most of the interior design.” (An HGTV dream, anyone? Yes.) Her uncle is doing demolition and custom woodworking, and her cousin is a master architect, making a new floor plan or a renovation. “We’ve really made it a family affair and it's been a lot of fun,” she says.
Orrantia admits she gets “having her hand in every basket” from her parents, both of whom are business-savvy, creative people. Since she’s an only child, there’s a lot of collaboration, and help with every aspect of what she loves to do. “We try to keep the ball rolling on creating something new, and right now that’s home renovation for us. It can be difficult at times, but it's fun for me! I love to stay busy and try new things,” she says. When she’s not shooting The Goldbergs or working on houses, her dad helps schedule music recordings, tour stops, and songwriting sessions.
Finding inspiration in songwriting
“My music career is similar to being involved in several careers,” Orrantia describes. “I can't help myself!” She started out doing soul, pop, and R&B, but then it transitioned to singer-songwriter acoustic, and now country pop, staying influenced by artists she admires. Orrantia’s boyfriend, musician Greg Ferman, is a lover of indie music and has shown Orrantia new bands that have made her want to venture out. “We are hoping to collaborate on some things soon,” she says, and yes, I am very excited for that.
When discussing what’s next for Orrantia musically, she says doesn’t want to remove herself from the country pop realm, but is excited to try some new genres. “I have a love for [country music] and it won't go away, but I do want to write just for the sake of writing.” Before record labels were pigeonholing artists into genres, we had bands like The Beatles, where every album had its own twist, and that’s a goal for Orrantia. “That’s what I’m looking forward to writing: an album where every song has its own genre,” she says.
When the pandemic hit, we all know it’s been difficult to find creativity and inspiration, and Orrantia agrees. “I was so uninspired [at the beginning of the pandemic]! I pull musical and songwriting inspiration from different relationships and experiences, but when you're inside the same house and same four walls, it's hard to find inspiration from that,” Orrantia says. She wasn't writing at all in the beginning, but she moved and things began to venture out a bit more, so she was able to find inspiration there. In her own way, consuming content is venturing out and seeing something new, but she’s preparing for the next wave of inspiration, and she hopes to put out new music by the middle of the year.
Taking a big leap into something new
Orrantia has come a long way since her audition on The X Factor in 2011. “Trust your gut,” she says, whether you're making a big change in your life, like moving to a new city, starting a new job, or taking up a new hobby. Even smaller things, like feeling out new friend groups; Orrantia once had a big shift in her life, basically letting go of everyone she knew, and has a hard time meeting genuine people, but her intuition is there for a reason. “I think women have an innate ability to sense things quickly, but then second guess ourselves. We do have that ability to automatically know what's right, and that's the main thing we can go off,” she advises.
In the future, Orrantia wants to continue to audition for things and challenge herself in a new acting project, but for now she's grateful to continue shooting The Goldbergs with her second-family. Catch season eight of The Goldbergs on Wednesdays 8/7pm CT now. “We have a lot more exciting episodes to go this year!” she promises.
BRB while I listen to all her music on repeat for the foreseeable future!