“Body heat just like fire, I sip on my drink, feel lighter, keep your eyes on me, oh boy, I hate slow grindin', don't get tired,” begins Banana, a playful song written and debuted by Hayley Law in 2016. Sexy and confident, the song is Hayley’s direct representation of a forward woman of this era—to say what she truly wants from someone while having no shame about it. Ultimately, its catchy rhythm and honest lyrics is something that you’d unconsciously vibe to before realizing what it is actually about. But, you have to give her credit for not giving a damn about her seductive forthrightness.
In 2017, her voice garnered more attention when she was cast as Valerie Brown, a low-key rock star and ex-band member of Josie and the Pussycats on the American CW/Netflix TV series, Riverdale. Growing in the suburbs, Hayley shares that she had no one to teach her about acting or music. “I knew I wanted to be a singer, but never thought it was attainable. I didn’t discover acting until after high school. And I definitely didn’t think I’d be able to do both.” To that, she admits that most of the time, she just kept doing what she thought a singer would do in situations, “including writing a lot of songs over Drake instrumentals and thinking of specific characters or people to reference when preparing for an audition,” she laughs.
In addition to portraying Valerie, Hayley has also landed a regular spot in Netflix's latest sci-fi extravaganza Altered Carbon, which is filled with an exciting cast of heavy-hitters such as Joel Kinnaman, James Purefoy, and Renée Elise Goldsberry. The 25-year-old Canadian is set to co-star opposite Katherine Langford and Charlie Plummer in Spontaneous, a film adaptation of Aaron Starmer’s popular novel, written and directed by Brian Duffield.
When was the moment that acting finally clicked for you, and that this was something that is really becoming a career?
I feel like I still haven’t had that moment. I’m constantly stressing about the next job. But I hope I achieve that feeling soon.
You first auditioned to play Cheryl Blossom in Riverdale. Were you hoping to be a villain or to play a badass character?
I wasn’t expecting to book anything to be honest. I really didn’t even think that far ahead. I was like “Oh my god, Archie Comics?! Cool. Can’t wait to see who plays who.”
There have been some criticisms about Riverdale having a huge representation problem despite its diverse cast. Especially towards your character Valerie Brown, who appears in every episode yet, the viewers know nothing about her.
I get it completely. And to be honest, I wondered for a bit if I was lacking something and doubted myself as an actress a lot. I feel it with not only Riverdale but with many other shows and films. I’m constantly looking for the silver lining in situations because I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but I’m learning that just because I have a voice and an opinion, doesn’t make me ungrateful. It would have been nice to have more backstory on Valerie, but it’s not something I’m holding my breath. I’ve realized that my representation (or lack thereof) of Valerie, is not what is going to define my career. So, I’m searching for that project now.
In Altered Carbon, you play Lizzie Elliot, who was not only driven mad and murdered but also trapped in that trauma loop. What was your initial thought about the character and did it make you feel uncomfortable?
It didn’t make me uncomfortable, but I did feel like I had an important job to do. To tell the story of this girl who is so, so complex. It needed to be done properly and respectfully.
In the season finale, Lizzie triumphs over her trauma and it was really empowering. What’s the mission statement you’d like to deliver to all the women marginalized people out there?
Fuck what anyone has to say, do what you need to do :).
Tell us about The New Romantic and your character. What do you like about them, as compared to the other television projects you’re starred in?
The New Romantic is a film that I just finished with Jessica Barden as the lead (Blake). My character’s name is Nikki. It’s very different from my other projects! It’s a comedy, with a very real message. It’s amazing and I can’t wait for people to see it.
You’d be starring opposite Katherine Langford and Charlie Plummer in the YA movie Spontaneous. What is your opinion about the two?
We actually just finished shooting Spontaneous. They’re both incredible actors. I was really excited to have scenes with them, and just pick up any tips they were willing to share with me! Both of them are also really awesome people. We all ended up in New York after we wrapped the film and went for dinner. We still stay in touch. They can’t get rid of me.
Spontaneous sounds like a pretty intense film. Have you read the novel yet?
It is intense. I haven’t read the novel yet, but I’m definitely going to. I think the film has moments of dark real emotions that lots of people are going to connect with. And Katherine does an amazing job with the character. I think the story is wild, and when reading the script I feel like I looked deeper than just lots and lots of blood. The story is really great and Brian Duffield executes it perfectly.
I’ve read that you want to be an action star, namely Storm. So, if you’re asked to write a song for her, how would it sound like?
Oh god, Storm needs a song with no words. Just a beautiful, classical instrumental.
What’s the most common question you receive from your fans and would like to get it out there now?
I am not related to Ty Dolla Sign. HA, I wish. Waddup Ty!
I heard you’re finishing your EP. Would you care to share some information on it? How was the whole process like?
The process has been nuts. I’m a crazy perfectionist with my music and I can’t wait to share it. I keep saying “coming this month” but I can’t say that three months in a row (laughs). But I really am hoping to put the EP out for spring. So, pretty soon. I work closely with a producer named NDT who really lets me bring my vision to life. It’s important to work with someone who isn’t afraid to give you criticism and vice versa. The songs are hot.