Hayley Orrantia may be best known for her role on ABC-TV’s hit comedy series The Goldbergs, but music is her first love. Growing up in Texas, she started singing at age 9, and admits to practicing her favorite songs by Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Faith Hill and Martina McBride in front of the mirror with a hairbrush.
Today, at age 21, she stars on the show as character “Erica Goldberg,” a teenager who shares her real-life love of music.
Orrantia recently released her first country single, “Love Sick.” The frequent Nashville visitor took a break from house-hunting to speak to MusicRow via phone.
MusicRow’s Sherod Robertson: When was your first visit to Nashville? What do you remember about it?
Hayley Orrantia: I had just turned 14 and was starting to write songs by myself. Songwriters Tim and Angela Lauer were guiding me through the process and co-writing with me. I was trying to do the whole Disney acting thing, so a lot of our songs were towards that genre. They were always really great mentors to me. That was my first visit, and then it took a few years before I finally got to come back.
Now that you come to Nashville regularly, who have you been working with?
Orrantia: I really like the cool team that I’ve created here. I’ve been working with Liz Rose, Emily Shackelton and Mark Bright. He’s my producer and has been writing in some of my sessions too. Corey Crowder is one of my favorite people to write with. He’s so good at what he does and he’s great about leaving the floor open to my ideas. I was worried because coming out to Nashville and writing with such great writers is sacred.
How did you end up connecting with Mark Bright?
Orrantia: Jeff Biederman, who is my entertainment lawyer, used to work here in Nashville, and he knows Rob Beckham at WME. So I connected with Rob, who is now my music agent. Rob pointed me towards Mark and we’ve been working together ever since.
One of the cool things about your character on The Goldbergs is that she sings. Is that a coincidence?
Orrantia: No, my character is based on the older brother of the real Adam F. Goldberg. His older brother’s name is Eric. But Adam needed another female character in the show, so he changed Eric to Erica. There was no musical trait about the character at all, but I mentioned to the producers that if there was an opportunity for me to sing on the show, I would be so grateful. In Season 1, they let me do that in one of the episodes, and have let me do it on multiple episodes ever since, which I love.
I am a singer first and foremost, and music’s always been so important to me. I kind of fell into acting, in a way, because of music. I was going on auditions a lot, going out to Los Angeles during pilot season while I was in high school. By the time I was 19, I happened to get the audition for The Goldbergs, and the minute I got the script, I knew that it was a role that I really connected with. I’m still happy to be working on it because it’s such a funny show.
How did you decide to record your song “Hasta Verte” in Spanish?
Orrantia: I’m a quarter Hispanic and have always been very proud of that side of my family heritage. It was something I wanted to try, even though I don’t speak it fluently. I’ve been challenging myself to learn Spanish and speak it fluently.
I felt like of all my songs, “Until Then” would resonate the most in another language because “Until Then” is about a family friend who passed away from cancer. A lot of people have had to deal with losing someone that’s very close to them, and I felt like that’s why this song would resonate so much in other countries and with people of all different languages.
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