Before Hayley Orrantia got her big break at 19 years old on “The Goldbergs,” she sought the spotlight by singing in her elementary school Christmas concerts.
“I can't actually watch most of my performances so this is a new experience for me,” Orrantia, 26, told Inside Edition Digital before hitting play on an unearthed performance of her in elementary school. Orrantia's mom, Melody, picked out the clip from when she was a child for Inside Edition Digital's "Then/Now" series.
Revisiting Orrantia’s solo of “Santa Baby,” first made famous by Earth Kitt in 1953, brought Orrantia back to those antsy butterflies.
“Once I hit that moment where I forget the lyrics, I can see on my sad little face, that I think I will be just embarrassed for the rest of time,” she said of reliving that experience. “I think that's the part that makes it hard to watch for me. It takes me right back to that emotion. I'm more just cringing at my poor little face where you can see I've given up all hope on life.”
Orrantia never let that embarrassment slow down her singing career. In 2011, she appeared on “The X Factor” as part of the group, Lakoda Rayne, a country pop girl group assembled by Paula Abdul. In 2013, she landed the role of Erica Goldberg on ABC’s “The Goldbergs.”
Her part on the sitcom, based on a real family named The Goldbergs, originally didn’t include singing. But Adam F. Goldberg, the creator and original showrunner, soon learned of Orrantia’s talent during one of their first meetings.
“It was in that meeting that I told him, ‘Look, if there's ever an opportunity for me to sing in the credits of the show -- it doesn't even have to be a part of the character -- let me know because I love singing,'" she said.
It was in the first season when she got the chance to sing during a school talent show.
“I guess it went over very well,” she added, noting singing was then added to her character. Though Orriata often notes what songs she loves from the '80s, she noted she “doesn’t have the final say, by any means.” A song she did fight for was “I Want to Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston because it’s one of her favorites.
Her mom loved that performance, along with “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” since “it just plays to all the best parts of her voice,” Melody said proudly.
“Thanks, mom," Orrantia replied.
Melody admits she is a bit like the overbearing Beverly, played by Wendi McLendon-Covey. “I wouldn't say over the top as much, but I can be a smother, yeah,” she said. Melody tunes in to watch every new episode that airs on Wednesday nights and says her friends know not to interrupt so she doesn’t miss a moment of her daughter on screen.
Off-screen, they are building the foundation for the possibility of their own reality TV show starring the whole family. The idea stemmed from Orrantia’s passion for interior design. She’s recently became a majority owner in her family’s house-flipping business in Tennessee. Before the coronavirus pandemic, she typically split her time between Nashville and Los Angeles. Her dad is a contractor, while Melody is a realtor. Her uncle is a foreman and woodworker and his son is an architect. Cineflix Productions has picked up the concept and they’re currently working on all the details, including a title name for the show, according to Deadline.
“I would say a big part of it is just the personality-driven aspect. We're very sarcastic, dry, [with] lots of different personalities,” Melody said of their family dynamic.
“It’s a brand-new challenge for our family. We never thought anything like this would happen,” Orrantia added.
This series is just one of several goals Orrantia has set for herself to achieve in 2021. “For me, it would be focusing on this family business and trying to make it as successful as possible,” she said of her New Year’s resolutions. “Whether that leads into a show -- that would be amazing. I started applying to interior design schools and getting a certificate, because I want to start learning the fundamentals of design.”
Orrantia also wants to produce and direct, so she’s working attending classes that could afford her the opportunity to “cross your fingers, direct an episode one day.”
“That would be a dream,” she said.