It’s almost time to sound the wedding bells. Hayley Orrantia’s Erica is on her way to the altar on The Goldbergs. The eldest of Murray (Jeff Garlin) and Bev’s (Wendi McLendon-Covey) kids left the nest to move in with fiancé Geoff Schwartz (Sam Lerner).
It has been quite the journey for Erica. And Orrantia continues to grow up alongside her, art imitating life. Here, the actress-musician opens up about the character’s journey and teases what’s on tap for the rest of the ABC comedy’s ninth season.
Right out of the gate, the show addressed the passing of “Pops” George Segal in such a touching way. How hard was that episode to shoot?
Hayley Orrantia: I really have to credit the writers and showrunners, because I do think they did a great job finding a balance between the classic Goldberg humor we are known for but also paying tribute to him. We really did grieve together. We were all together on set when we found out about his passing back in March. The cast was crying almost every day of filming, which made for a difficult week. We were very happy to be able to come together and celebrate his life in a way. He is probably somewhere giggling in his best laugh because he had the world’s best laugh. He would have hated that we were crying.
What do you make of the show’s longevity?
It is wild to think about having spent this many years on the show. It has been so fun not only as a cast but a crew. Working together has been such a blessing. I think we’re all in the same boat in that as long as we get to work together and enjoy what we do in this way, and people are having fun watching each week, we’ll go as long as they’ll let us. I think in a perfect world we would definitely go at least 10 [seasons] to wrap up the 1980s decade. I think there are still stories left to tell.
As a young star, what kind of advice did you get early on from those in the industry?
Two pieces of advice I’ve been able to take with me in music and acting is to take my time, especially with music. I tended to, in the past, write a song and immediately put it out. This year, I really learned to write as much as you can because it takes writing a hundred songs to find 10 really good ones. I’ve had more patience in my music career and having fun with it rather than feeling the pressure of keeping up on the business side of things.
What about falling into typecasting?
I’m fully aware that when this show is over there is a chance I won’t work for three, five, or more years. Similar to music, you just have to focus on the projects you are passionate about and make you excited. I’ve heard from a lot of people if you really want to break the typecast, the next thing you do after this kind of long project like The Goldbergs should be something drastically different to break up the idea people have of you. I’m not sure what that will look like for me yet, but I’m looking forward to figuring it out. Hopefully, I get another year or two or more before I have to make that decision.
Erica has really been on this journey of self-discovery throughout the series, all leading up to deciding to go back to college and marrying her long-time beau Geoff.
She is going through a lot. She is finding herself. I think that is why last season it was so important for her and Geoff to have that really heartfelt moment where they took a break to allow themselves to be individuals. That was my favorite story arc for Erica, specifically Erica and Geoff, because it forces her to grow up. We got to see a side where she wasn’t just being her sassy self bossing Geoff around. She assessed the whole situation and found what was best for their relationship. Now we got rewarded in the fact that they are together again and getting married. Sam and I are really looking forward to the hilarious storylines getting ready for this wedding and Beverly getting too involved. I’m grateful that I have been able to play this character for so long. I’m hoping we can do more because I think there is more we can say when it comes to Erica’s next step in life.
What else can you tell us about the lead-up episodes to Erica and Geoff’s nuptials?
There is an episode we have of Erica trying on dresses, a bridal shower episode. I put my two cents in hoping the writers do a bachelorette or bachelor party. I think it lends itself to such funny stories. I feel like we only got a tinge of Erica’s bridezilla side. I’m hoping there is more opportunity for that because it has to happen. I think we’re probably going to film the actual wedding next month. I actually am learning as the scripts come out. I’m not sure how the season is going to wrap or what the wedding is going to look like. I am equally on the edge of my seat.
I know fans would love having Lainey (AJ Michalka) come back for the wedding. Have we seen the last of her?
I think they will find ways to include her. AJ’s my best friend in life, so I’m dying to have her here every second. I’m fairly certain you’re going to be seeing more of Lainey. At the end of the day, she is Erica’s best friend. She is getting ready for the biggest day of her life. She needs her buddy there. I don’t want to give too much away, but I am excited to be working with her again soon.
Outside entertainment, you’re flipping houses with your family. Sounds like a future HGTV show premise in the making.
I grew up flipping houses with my dad my whole life. My mom got into real estate the last five years. She is a real estate agent. It was kind of a no-brainer since I fell in love with interior design. We have individual jobs within our family business and work really well together. Right now the market is a little crazy with COVID and materials are hard to come by. We’ve been tested a bit, but thankfully because I have a good relationship with them it is so easy. [The show idea] has been something we’ve been talking about. It is going to come down to the right platform and the right way our story will unfold. As much as we want to be that cookie-cutter HGTV family, I think we are a little rougher around the edges when you get to know us.
Sounds like art imitating life again.
The Goldbergs, Wednesdays, 8/7c, ABC