Actress Michelle Hayden isn’t too different from her character, Lesley Vargas, who she plays on BET’s new series, Tales. She’s strong but sensual, she’s intelligent, and there’s no knocking this woman’s hustle.
“I relate to my character a lot because there are so many different parts to her,” says Hayden. “That’s big for me as an actress. I don’t want to be labeled as the hot, sexy girl in every role that I play. I want to show all the different sides of myself.”
And it’s true. Don’t let the Argentinian actress’ good looks fool you–with Hayden, there is so much more than meets the eye. In high school, a horrific car accident left her with serious injuries and put her hopes of becoming an actress on hold. But she fought and she healed, and after receiving her Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from UC Davis, she went back to LA to give acting another shot.
Since then, she’s appeared in movies such as Ride Along 2, and in TV series such as Real Life, Lethal Weapon, 90210, and most recently, Tales. Directed by Irv Gotti, Tales takes iconic hip hop songs and turns each one into an hour-long episode. Wanting to make a statement and launch the series with guns blazing, Gotti picked NWA’s “F*ck the Police” for the pilot.
“What he did was he made all the police officers black and everyone in the hood white,” she explains. “It’s never been done before and has caught everyone’s attention.”
I asked Hayden which song would tell the story of her life, to which she answered SWV’s early 90’s classic, “Weak.”
“It has to be a love song. I’m more of an R&B girl–I like slow, sexy, passionate songs. Remember when you were heartbroken for the first time? It literally feels like life is over, but you grow as a woman and learn so much from it,” she says, adding with a laugh that she now owns a dad hat that reads “If the love doesn’t feel like 90s R&B I don’t want it.”
“I don’t want to be labeled as the hot, sexy girl in every role that I play. I want to show all the different sides of myself.“
Hollywood is a strange place; one that breeds and feeds egos. But Hayden remains humble, sweet, and down to earth. Talking to her, even though we’d only met for the first time, was like catching up with an old girlfriend.
With her stardom steady on the rise, Hayden puts her all into making sure that she’s focused and that she’s always the best, and strongest, version of herself–mind, body, and soul. She doesn’t touch alcohol, and she works out with her trainer six days a week–“Stairmaster is a must for every girl to lift the booty!” she says. “It’s important that I always feel good about myself. What makes me feel good is eating healthy. I’m big on eating natural, organic foods. And working out–as long as I feel good about me, I can do whatever the day, or my job, demands from me.”
As someone who loves food, and who refuses to compromise the joy of eating, something else Hayden is passionate about is discovering and coming up with healthy recipes that she actually enjoys.
“Fad diets and workouts are temporary. Chances are you’re not going to keep it up in the long run, which is why it’s so important to find things you actually like. I actually enjoy working out, and I can’t wait to have my green shake in the morning and my fish and veggies for dinner. It’s a plus that it keeps me lean, happy, and confident with my body,” she says.“I can be girly and I can dress up, but I also want to take my athletic ability and use it. I want to play a superhero one day.”
Photographer: Christina Choi
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