Hayden Byerly from ABC’s The Fosters talks teens in the biz, how his family supports his dreams and how he’s using his role on TV to make a difference.
Q. When did you know you wanted to act?
I didn’t really “know” that I wanted to act. It just sort of happened. I was never really into sports. I always loved TV. It was something that I fell into and I love it.
Q. How did you get your start in the acting industry?
I went to Premiere. I had 18 callbacks from industry professionals. My mom took me to L.A. to meet five of them. I signed with JLA and CESD. I booked my first TV audition as a guest star on Zeke and Luther. And I have been acting since.
Q. We hear you participated in a program called Premiere. Could you tell us a little bit about that experience and how it helped hone your acting talent?
I learned so much at Premiere. I learned the basics such as where to look into the camera and the importance of looking people in the eye while speaking. Premiere was really about me finding myself. Once I knew it was ok to be me, everything just fell into place. Premiere gave me the confidence to walk into an audition room knowing that whatever happened, I was happy with myself because I was prepared.
Q. Would you recommend Premiere to aspiring child / teen entertainers?
I think Premiere is most definitely the best way to get into the industry. The way it is structured provides you and your parents all of the information about the industry, teaches you and your parents what to do and what not to do (my mom is a good example of this. LOL), and it gives the actor enough information about acting without changing who you are. It allows each child to mould their own craft and provides you with the confidence to be who you are.
Q. We understand Premiere’s founder, Michael Palance, has been a valuable mentor. Can you tell us more about his guidance throughout your acting career?
Michael Palance has my upmost respect. He’s an incredibly hard worker. He’s dedicated all of his time to these families and these kids, encouraging them to follow their dreams. He’s provided parents, who are willing to open the door for their kids, with all of the necessary tools. The “who”, the “when”, the “where”, and the “how”. He not only teaches family how to get into the acting industry, but also provides you with the tools to make sure you are prepared. I can’t tell you how many times my mom would take me to an audition and she would be the one telling families the basics. Michael is about family. Michael is one of the most selfless people you will ever meet. I am incredibly thankful for him.
Q. How did your family support your acting career?
My mom has sacrificed a lot for me to be in LA. Acting, following my dreams, living my passion. I think it’s important for families who are getting into this industry to remember to love one another. I see a lot of kids in this industry turn on their families and they seem to forget how they got here and the people that helped make it happen. Respect. Appreciation. I’m sure it has not been easy for anyone in my family to deal with the ins and outs of raising “normal” kids in an “un-normal” situation. I work, and I’m 15. LOL My mom tries to raise me as normal as possible. I’m glad that she has kept me grounded. She has always wanted to make sure that I remain as humble as possible. I hope to never let her down, as she has never let me down.
Q. Tell us about your role in The Fosters.
I play Jude Adams Foster on The Fosters. I am the youngest of five kids in the household. I love playing Jude. He has taught me a lot about the foster system. I started my own charity, Hayden’s Hope Totes.Org. It’s a non-profit organization to help foster children who are transitioning through the foster system. I would say being able to give to others is the one thing that I am most proud of…I’m happy to have a platform to be able to use, to reach out to help make a difference to others.
Q. What is your secret to getting into character as Jude?
I have been incredibly lucky to be surrounded by amazing actors on The Fosters. They have taught me to dig deep into my own emotions in order to connect with Jude. I am always up for the challenge and love being pushed to step out of my comfort zone. I love acting. It makes me feel the happiest I have ever been. I didn’t fit in with my peers at school. I have an old soul. I was always in trouble. Looking back… I think I was bored. LOL
Q. We understand that you created Hayden’s Hope Totes, a non-profit organization. Can you tell us about that?
Please make sure to go visit www.haydenshopetotes.org. My team and I have been working really hard to provide duffle bags to each child that is removed from their home entering into the foster system. We sell T-shirts, hats, phone cases, etc. at our store and the profits all go towards HHT. Due to my acting, my mom, brother and I have moved every year for the last five years. I couldn’t imagine going through that without being able to take my personal items with me. I feel like this duffle bag will provide these kids the security of being able to take their personal items with them as they are transitioning. I am not saying I have been through a similar struggle, I’m just hoping that as these kids are going through a rough time, they are able to hold onto some items that will give them the security they need while not having their families with them.
To learn more: officialpremiere.com, www.haydenshopetotes.org, freeform.go.com/shows/the-fosters/cast/jude