Jaylen Barron knew she wanted to act from a young age. After modeling for a short time, she soon landed recurring roles on shows like Good Luck Charlie and See Dad Run. She ventured into edgier waters as Carl’s girlfriend Domi on Shameless. Currently starring in Netflix’s equestrian-themed hit Free Rein, Jaylen eagerly jumped at the chance to showcase her professional range and hopped a plane to film in the UK. Despite all the international jet-setting, she remains humble and grounded. Her platform of over 118,000 Instagram followers provides the perfect megaphone to speak out on social issues that matter to her. Jaylen sat down with Cliché to talk about transitioning to more mature roles, her love of animals, and the importance of knowing our (true) history as Americans.
Cliché: You started your career as a child model. What compelled you to make the transition from modeling to acting?
Jaylen Barron: I’ve always wanted to get into acting but modeling got my foot in the door. The transition was actually intentional.
Your Netflix show, Free Rein, is about a 15-year-old girl, Zoe, who bonds with a horse during a summer in Wales. What first attracted to you the project?
Honestly, it was a lead role for Netflix! When offered the role, I said yes. I had just finished Shameless, so this wholesome story was just what I needed to show my range as an actress.
The show films in Wales! Where you nervous about moving that far? What do you like most about being in Wales and Europe?
Yes, I was very nervous and sad to be away from my family and friends. It was tough, but filming it has been a very bittersweet experience. Wales is a beautiful place and England has a lot of rich history. England has very scenic places and was breathtaking along the countryside.
Did you have a love of horses prior to taking the role of Zoe? Have you learned anything about them along the way?
I love all animals and always thought of horses as regal animals. I had little knowledge about the necessities of taking care of a horse, riding them and working alongside an animal that size. I’ve learned so much I can’t even begin to tell you the details.
What messages do you hope kids can take away from Free Rein?
I hope kids learn to take a chance and experience new places with new people. I also hope the show encourages the viewers to try a sport that isn’t as common.
You started out on Nickelodeon and Disney. You also scored a recurring role as Domi on Shameless. At 20, you seem to be successfully navigating your way to more mature roles. How do you avoid the pitfalls and temptations that so many child actors have faced?
My mom, honestly! She takes no crap and I have a great deal of respect for myself and my parents’ opinions. We work as a team so it’s not that difficult when you have a strong family behind you.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned during your time in the industry?
Don’t believe the hype, stay connected to yourself, and trust in God.
Your social media reflects your passionate stance on social justice issues, like feminism and police brutality against men of color. Why is it so important to you to make your voice heard in the current moment? How can we as individuals work to better ourselves as a society to fight against prejudice?
With my social media, I have an opportunity for thousands of people to hear the stories of the injustice being done and the hate being passed off as political opinions. I also have a unique perspective in that my dad is a police officer who is African American. My mother and I know firsthand that we want my dad home safe either from the job or just driving through a neighborhood that he may not frequent or “fit into.” My brother is in the military and he’s African American, and although this country may not accept him always, he still goes and fights for our freedom. We need to educate people from kindergarten to university with TRUE history, not whitewashed history, so that we do not repeat mistakes made in the past.
Do you have anything else you’re working on that you’re excited about? Any other dream projects or subjects that you would like to work on in the future?
I’m currently working on a couple of animated projects and I have a movie in the wings. My dream job? I’m kind of living my dream now so I will let you know.
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Jaylen Barron Takes the Reins in “Free Rein.” Photo Credit: Birdie Thompson.