At the age of 11, Haley Ramm and her mother decided to move out to California on a spur-of-the-moment decision. Eleven years later, it seems taking a chance worked out; not only has Haley and her family stayed in California, but now you can see her each week as Brenna, the rebellious younger sister in ABC Family’s new show, Chasing Life. The show has given Ramm a chance to learn more about the fashion world through a clothing line for Wet Seal based on the show’s characters. Ramm also flaunts her own unique style with some vintage pieces—her staples of which are some floral 60’s dresses. She’s funny, determined to succeed, and well on her way as she chases her dreams in this game we call life.
Cliché: How did you start acting?
Haley Ramm: I started acting when I was about 8 years old when I was in Dallas, where I’m from. I just always liked performing and stuff, so my dad signed me up for an acting class. I was never very athletic, so it worked out. It’s been great.
Can you tell me about the character of Brenna in Chasing Life?
I’m the rebellious little sister. She’s in high school, she’s 16, she’s trying to figure herself out, and it’s been really fun to play. You never know when you get the sister role if you’re going to walk into the room and say a few lines or if they are going to do a lot with it, and they have done more with my character than I ever expected. This whole season for Brenna was figuring herself out, and she’s exploring herself. The first couple episodes she has been pretty bratty. It’s been really funny reading what people have been saying online and how much they hate my character in the best way. [laughs] [After the newer episodes], it’s going to be different. You really start to see a change in Brenna. She’s going to keep changing from here on out.
What drew you to the role?
Getting the part in the first place! [laughs] I try not to get too excited about auditioning for roles, because you never know. It usually never happens. You usually don’t get anything, so you have to distance yourself and not get too attached. After I got the role, I started thinking about how it could be. With a pilot episode, you don’t really know that much. You don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m glad that we’ve done so many episodes and are now finally doing interviews for it, because we now have things to talk about. With the pilot, you don’t know where your character is going to go, and they don’t tell you anything really. I mean, I asked a bunch of questions when I met with the writers Joni (Lefkowitz) and Susanna (Fogel). They kind of hinted at stuff about where my character would go, but they wouldn’t really tell me at first. I just like playing a character who doesn’t have it all figured out and is not perfect and makes mistakes. I think it’s really fun.
Now, you also just wrapped a movie called Dakota’s Summer. I watched the trailer, and there were some pretty crazy horse tricks.
Yeah, that’s not me. [laughs] I wish I could say it was me, but it wasn’t. There are some very talented trick riders that they found in the South. They were all super sweet girls, and it was fun to just see them mess around on the horses and do these crazy tricks that they did with such ease. It was amazing. It made me feel bad about myself and my athletic abilities. [laughs]
You play a girl who wants to be a trick rider, but can you tell me a little more about the movie?
Yeah, I play a girl who is a trick rider. She’s not really the best at what she does, but she tries really hard. I play those characters a lot. I think it’s me in real life. [laughs] She finds out that she’s adopted, and she meets her real mom who turns out to be kind of a joke. They end up having a relationship in the end. It’s a really sweet family film. It was fun to do something more for kids and my family. My family in Kansas loved it. I think it’s my grandma’s favorite thing that I’ve done, and that made me really happy. It was fun to be around horses and be in the South, because I’m from the South.
Did you ride horses before the movie?
I did! I used to go riding all the time when I was younger and really loved it. I never took classes or anything. I would just go on weekends for fun. I do have experiences with horses, but they didn’t let me do as many tricks as I would like to. They worry that we’re going to get hurt, and I understand it, but it would have been fun to be able to do more tricks.
Since both of those have wrapped, what are you working on now?
Right now? Nothing. Hopefully something! I’ve been out of the loop for about a year working on the show, so it’ll be fun to get back out there and see what’s happening.
I saw that you like to do some vintage shopping.
I do! I love it. My mom sells vintage clothes. She just started doing it for fun. We both love going antiquing and looking for vintage clothes, so one day she just decided to make something of it and started a shop on Etsy. We go around to thrift shops and look for stuff, and it’s really fun. She knows so much about it now. She knows any designer from any era. And I love wearing vintage. It’s really fun and tells a story. It’s cool to imagine who bought it in the first place and why.
Do you have a staple piece?
I have a couple of dresses from the 60’s that I love to throw on. I don’t have to think about it. I have one floral one that I love. It looks like a bag… in a cool way. It sounds really unattractive, but it’s not. [laughs]
I know that Chasing Life has a new fashion line based on the characters of the show for Wet Seal. Were you guys involved with that?
We were involved with it! From the beginning when they found out that they’d be doing the clothing line, we got to come in and have a meeting and talk about our characters so that they could have a better feeling for what our characters would wear. We got to see the stuff after they designed it. They sent it over, and it was so cool. I’ve always loved fashion, and I think being in a little sliver of the fashion world industry is great. It made me feel cool. I don’t think they have a date for when it’s coming out, but it was fun to be a part of.
What’s been one of the most surreal moments for you?
I’ve always been a big fan of Jason Bateman, and when I found out that he was playing my dad in Disconnect, that was pretty surreal for me. I learned a lot from him, so I’d have to say that.
Is there a show you would love to guest on?
Orange is the New Black, for sure, and Girls. I would like to be on Girls because they have great characters. Orange is the New Black would be so cool, because there are so many female characters, and I just love how real it all looks. It’s so dirty-looking and realistic, and I think it would be so cool to work in something like that.
Photographed by Benjo Arwas
Interview with Haley Ramm “Chasing Dreams” was originally published in Cliché Magazine’s Aug/Sept 2014 issue