To follow your dreams takes a great deal of courage, especially when those dreams lead you far from your hometown of Edmond to the big city of Los Angeles. At the young age of only 19, Hayley McFarland’s bold move landed her as a regular on Fox’s hit show Lie To Me.
But before she hit the big time, she was just a kid in Edmond dead set on her dream of being on stage. “I can’t ever remember not wanting to do this,” McFarland said, her voice filled with the joy of acting. She’s been hard at it for years now, despite her young age. Absent in her tone is any sign of strain or struggle – instead, she seems invigorated by the challenges of the business.
McFarland began on stage in musical theater productions during the summers at Oklahoma’s Lyric Theater. She was in ACTS Acting Academy when owner Michelle De Long sent a tape of her and other young actors to a manager in Los Angeles.
Soon after, her career began taking shape. By the time she was 12, McFarland was making regular trips to audition in California during pilot season.
Her first major role came when she got a part in the dark, independent film, An American Crime, starring Ellen Page (Juno) and Catherine Keener (The Soloist). “I learned a lot just watching them [Page and Keener]. Just kind of being thrown into it like that was a really great experience,” said McFarland.
Those trips out to Los Angeles became a permanent move for McFarland and her mother three years ago. “We went back and forth for quite a few years because my mom wasn’t really sure,” McFarland laughs. “She kept asking, ‘are you sure it’s worth going out there?’ Eventually, after I had gotten into stuff, we were confident enough to make a move and it was a good decision.”
The move paid off with her recent primetime TV part on Lie To Me, which TV Guide confirms had an average 6.38 million viewers in December. The show has a strong market with a broad-base of 18
On Lie to Me, McFarland plays the daughter of Dr. Cal Lightman, played by Tim Roth (Pulp Fiction). According to McFarland, Lightman’s character is based on a real life doctor, Paul Ekman, who has developed a scientific method for detecting lies in people’s physical actions such as facial movements.
McFarland understands why people have connected to the show’s concept. “It’s a natural curiosity. People want to know whether people are lying,” she said, but added, “I don’t think I’d like that because I think some things we’re better off not knowing.”
McFarland works a couple of days a week shooting her scenes on the show. “It’s mostly working with Tim Roth, he’s the best,” she said. “We get along real well and we have a good rapport. It still doesn’t seem like work and like a job to me.” Each time she speaks of acting, it seems as though a smile floats above her every word.
Now that she’s permanently on the scene in L.A., McFarland is learning about the differences in interactions with people in Los Angeles compared to Oklahoma.
“Most people out here, they’re busy. In Oklahoma, people just kind of make conversation with you; people are nice and they’ll just ask you how you’re doing. I’ve noticed, if I do treat people like that out here, they appreciate it and they want to do that too,” she said.
McFarland hopes to expand her career with movie roles. However, she intends to stay true to her Oklahoma roots no matter how far her fame and success carry her toward Hollywood. “I don’t really go out to the parties. I don’t seek out media attention. I try not to put myself in situations where something I say or do could be misconstrued,” she said.
Her drive and determination are positively refreshing and speak well for her future.
McFarland still has family in Edmond and returns often. Her career advice for other Oklahoma youth is simply put: “If whatever you’re doing seems like work, then find something fun,” she says.