WITH FREEFORM'S THE FOSTERS COMING TO AN END, WE TOOK A MOMENT WITH 17-YEAR OLD ACTOR, HAYDEN BYERLY, TO REFLECT ON HIS TIME ON THE SHOW AND HIS PLANS FOR THE FUTURE.
Let's start with who Hayden is. Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. I moved to Los Angeles about seven years ago to pursue acting. Five of those years I spent on The Fosters. With the show wrapping up, I've been working on plenty of projects. I'm currently trying to produce a couple different shows, as well as working on my own line of clothing. Most importantly I'm continuing to pursue acting. I'm not sure what I want to do next on screen but I'm excited for the future whatever it may hold.
So, you're keeping a pretty open mind.
Yeah. I'm excited for whatever is next in my future. As I said, I've been working on a lot of great things and I hope to stay busy moving forward.
You started acting a pretty young age. How did that get started for you?
When I was younger I went to a talent showcase event for about a week in Orlando, FL. I was among a couple thousand kids and managed to win first place in my age group. So, I came out to California during my Fall break of school for about a week and booked the first audition I went on for a guest-star as Skunk on the TV series Zeke and Luther, which was a lot of fun. Ever since then, I've always been fortunate enough to continue working. I haven't had much down time, which I really like because I can't stand having a long break. I love working too much to let time just pass by.
Have you worked on any indie projects?
When I was working on The Fosters I wasn't able to do a lot of other stuff. But I was in an independent film called 11/11/11 and, funnily enough, I was 11 years old when I filmed it. It was a very different and wild experience especially looking back on it after five years on The Fosters.
Let's talk about one of the characters you've played. I'm a huge fan of The Fosters. What was it like playing Jude?
It was remarkable getting to play Jude. Especially since I got to grow up changing and evolving through the most important and influential years of my life on the show. So while I was figuring out Hayden, I was also going through different experiences in Jude's life. I got to understand and learn everything about this kiddo as well. It was like I was accumulating 10 years worth of knowledge in half that time. But it wasn't just the same things twice. Jude and I lived very different lives and experienced very different things. I'm super thankful of the knowledge I've gained through my double life. I loved playing Jude and just loved him as a character.
Jude really has been such a loved character on the show and has a huge LGBTQ following.
Back when we first started the show we were always worried how people would react to everything. We also tried to break boundaries and talk about things that were important and necessary to discuss but weren't talked about. It's amazing to see how the world has progressed in accepting and loving people for who they are. People are being accurately and respectfully portrayed on television and in many other ways. I wanted to make sure that I followed that same mentality. I never wanted to stereotype Jude or play him a particular way just because of who he was. I just wanted him to be a kid and be himself. Because you don't have to look or sound or act a certain way to fit in to a particular crowd or group of people.
The Fosters really helped develop a new normal in the entertainment industry.
Freeform does a great job with that. They pride themselves in being very progressing and positivily representing the industry. People should be judged on the work that they do, not who they are. It shouldn't matter what you identify as, who you love, or what you look like. As long as you get the job done.
It's great to hear that from the voice of today’s youth.
It's important for today's youth to be aware of everything going on in the world. We need to be apart of the change that we want to see in the world. Soon enough we're going to be the ones in office making laws and regulations. If we don't teach this generation the mistakes of the past, how can we hope to better our future?
Of those struggles facing America’s youth, do you feel like you relate to any of them?
Of course. Everyone in America is affected by the things that are happening in our society. The world is changing and right now we're at a pinnacle point in America where we are about to have a whole wave of people rise up and take over for this generation. I'm involved in as much of it as I possibly can be.
I know the series is coming to an end, but I hear there's a spin-off?
Yeah, it's called "Good Trouble." I don't know too much about the show but I know its about Callie and Mariana a couple years into the future. I know The Fosters will always live on in the hearts of many. The impact and change we had in society will always stay there. It's only going to inspire more and more people to do better things and change the world.
Is there a memory you reflect on that keeps you inspired?
I think everyday that I got to show up to work. Everyday that I got to drive onto the Warner Brother’s lot and work with the people I love. I have so many memories of being on set and working with so many amazing people and having so much fun and doing crazy things. The people I worked with inspired me every day. You find such remarkable people in this industry and that's the best part.
What kind of roles do you hope to pursue in the future?
Everything. I would love to do some comedic work- which I'm not sure I'd be good at but, it would be interesting to see. I've always liked entertaining people and making them laugh. Which is kind of funny, seeing that Jude always made people cry. I'd love to branch out from Jude and envelope another character, I enjoyed The Fosters for 5 years but I can't wait to see the characters and roles I'll get to have in the next 50.
What advice can you give to young aspiring actors?
I would say work hard and never stop pushing yourself. Never think that you're ever the best or as good as you can be because you can always be better.
If you are to be a book, what kind of book would you be and why?
I would be a drama with a lot of comedic relief. I'd make people laugh, be happy and enjoy life. But, have plenty of sad moments as well because that’s the beautiful balance of life. The ups and downs, the back and forth. It’s a constant rollercoaster and there would be many loops throughout mine. An action-adventure-dramedy, that’s probably a new genre I just made up but we'll go with that.
If you were given the chance to donate to a charity, what would it be and why?
I have a charity called Hayden’s Hope Totes. It provides duffle bags to Foster children who are taken out of their homes and thrown into the foster care system. I’ve worked on this for about three years, we’ve given out over ten thousand bags in about five states. So, that’s one that I love and want to continue working on.