EXCLUSIVE Q&A: Hayley Orrantia Talks New Music, Opening for Brad Paisley and “The Goldbergs”

Photo: Mark Davis/Getty Images
Photo: Mark Davis/Getty Images
Photo: Mark Davis/Getty Images

Hayley Orrantia has come a long way since her days on X Factor. The 22-year-old singer and songwriter is currently in the process of putting together her debut EP and she’s gearing up for her fourth season as Erica on ABC‘s The Goldbergs. Plus, she took her talents to the big screen this year, starring in God’s Not Dead 2 with Melissa Joan Hart and Jesse Metcalfe.

Celeb Secrets Country had the chance to catch up with the singer/actress to talk to her about her new music, her experience on The Goldbergs so far and opening for Brad Paisley. Orrantia also talked about her days on X Factor and shared some advice for aspiring artists. Plus, she gave us some great secrets, so make sure to check out our exclusive Q&A with Orrantia below.

Celeb Secrets Country: How do you personally relate to your character on The Goldbergs?

Hayley Orrantia: “My character is very headstrong and driven and that is something that I definitely share with her. Very opinionated. Erica and I also have a lot that’s different — she has this big family with a lot of siblings and I’m an only child. There are a lot of things I’ve learned about the situation through my character in the show. I feel like we’re more alike than we are different.”

Celeb Secrets Country: What is one of the best experiences you have had while filming The Goldbergs?

Hayley Orrantia: “Honestly, the times when I really love the show is when there are scenes with the entire cast, like the whole family and all of the friends. Not only are we just having fun, but I’m working with people who I absolutely love who they are and they’re so talented. That’s when I’m super appreciative of what I do and who I do it with.”

Celeb Secrets Country: Tell me about your new music!

Hayley Orrantia: “I am working with the producer Mark Bright who did a lot of stuff with Carrie Underwood and Rascal Flatts and Martina McBride, so he’s been a really great person to work with. For the last two years now, I’ve been writing music with him and some other songwriters here in Nashville and working on my EP and finding that right song for me as an artist. I think we found it!”

Photo: Tony Rivetti/ABC
Photo: Tony Rivetti/ABC

Celeb Secrets Country: How would you describe your sound for someone who hasn’t heard you yet?

Hayley Orrantia: “My influences come from all different genres, so now I’m a mix of country pop soul. A little blues, but my main influences are pop and country at the moment.”

Celeb Secrets Country: Who are some of the artists who have influenced you?

Hayley Orrantia: “Growing up, it was a lot of R&B artists and big vocalists like Celine Dion and Whitney Houston. And now I guess my sound has been very influenced by Kacey Musgraves, Kelsea Ballerini, but lyrically, I’m most inspired by Sara Bareilles, who is not country at all. I kind of pull from all of these different people because there’s something that I love from all of them.”

Celeb Secrets Country: How was it opening for Brad Paisley?

Hayley Orrantia: “Oh my gosh, that was literally the craziest experience ever. When I found out I was going to be opening for him, I was crying on the phone with my dad cause I just didn’t believe it. The actual experience was awesome, everything went really, really well, it was so much fun, and the coolest part was during Brad’s set, he has two bars that are actually on the stage so people who are backstage get to drink on stage while he’s performing, and I got to do that and it was such a surreal moment for me to take in where I was and what I was doing. That whole night just to sum the whole thing up was unreal.”

Celeb Secrets Country: What was it like performing in front of so many people?

Hayley Orrantia: “It was crazy! But at the same time, I’ve always felt more comfortable performing in front of a larger audience than a smaller audience I guess because I am able to look past it and be in my own little world. The audience was really fun and I think that they really liked my music. I got good feedback. It was cool to see how my music was being received by the audience.”

Photo: David Reid/The Collegian
Photo: David Reid/The Collegian

Celeb Secrets Country: Who else would you like to open up for?

Hayley Orrantia: “It’s funny because my producer worked with Rascal Flatts and Carrie Underwood and those are actually the two artists in country, specifically, that I grew up loving the whole time, so definitely them. They just consistently have been great artists who know who they are.”

Celeb Secrets Country: You were on the X Factor, was that fun?

Hayley Orrantia: “It was a very interesting experience — positive and negative — but overall it was a great lesson learned for how people in the music industry work, both music and television wise. It was also a great way for me to meet people who are still my best friends today, but there was also a lot of negativity because, when it comes to reality television, not a lot is real, and if it is, it’s not real from the producer’s stand point because the people involved in these shows are just completely new to everything and just so badly want to do what they love and they’re kind of like guinea pigs for these producers to kind of just make a good TV show. There’s a lot of negative, but overall, I’m happy I did it because it was a great experience.”

Celeb Secrets Country: What was the best thing that you learned from being on the X Factor?

Hayley Orrantia: “You have to stick to who you are and what you want to do as an artist because producers will try to influence you to do a certain song because they think it’s going to sell better or play better on television, but I specifically remember they were telling us we needed to do this one song when we had a really awesome medley of two songs that we wanted to do, so I think this line that I told them was ‘you can put on the music for the song that you want us to play, but we’re going to start singing the lyrics to the song that we want to play, so unless you want to have a mess on your hands, I would probably do what we’re asking you to do.’ And they did! Just stick to your guts.”

Photo: Ray Mickshaw/FOX
Photo: Ray Mickshaw/FOX

Celeb Secrets Country: What advice would you give to someone who’s looking to go in to acting, or singing, or even both like you?

Hayley Orrantia: “It’s hard right now for artists to want to do both because people in the music industry are turned off by actors who come in and just think that they’re singers. At least that’s been my experience, but it’s hard to juggle both. If you want to do both successfully, you really have to give it your all, so it’s hard to find the balance if you really want to do both, and then do it successfully because I’m still struggling to do that myself, but it’s all about balance. If you find that there’s one thing that you want to do more, you should put your focus into it.”

Celeb Secrets Country: Do you do any charity work?

Hayley Orrantia: “I definitely want to get into more now, but I’ve worked with Lungevity, which is raising awareness for lung cancer. I have a video for it on my Facebook page. That’s the main one I’ve been doing lately. I like supporting my friends who also support various charities. Years ago, I wrote a song called “Who I Am” and I wrote it for my friend who was struggling with an eating disorder and I performed it at a few of the National Eating Disorders Association walks. It was more about promoting seeing yourself in a positive light and being happy with who you are.”

Celeb Secrets Country: Do you have a fun fact or a secret about yourself?

Hayley Orrantia: “I’m super into interior design and I just bought a place in Nashville and I’ve had a ton of fun with doing Do-It-Yourself projects, finding these old things and redoing them into something new, so I love to handcraft projects. I make dream catchers, but that’s just what I enjoy doing. I enjoy creating things, especially things that can be used for décor. The hardest thing is that you never know if it’s going to actually work in the space until it’s actually there. It’s been a challenge but it’s fun to play around with it. One thing I know I’m not good at is those Pinterest recipes. Any time that I try to cook anything, it’s disastrous.”

Written by Isabel Baldinger

Isabel is an intern for Celeb Secrets Country. Originally from New Jersey, she is currently living the dream in Nashville while getting her degree in Music Business from Belmont University. If she is not in class or interviewing artists, she is at a concert, at Hotbox, hanging out with friends, traveling, lounging around at Tin Roof, or eating tacos.

Steven Tyler’s Country Album Debuts At No. 1

Garth Brooks Returns to Fresno with Trisha Yearwood for the First Time in 19 Years