the irresistibly goofy charm of hayley magnus

The promising young actor on embodying interesting characters, the merits of public transport and her very own Carrie Bradshaw moment.

by Briony Wright
11 September 2017, 7:06am

Photography Jordan Drysdale

It would be fair to describe Hayley Magnus as a dreamboat — a totally hilarious dreamboat. With her striking long limbs, contagious smile and charming self-deprecating wit, she's impossible to forget. The Australian actor, now based in LA, got her start on iconic Aussie soap Home & Away. She's since gone on to nail a role alongside Kate Winslet in 2015's critically acclaimed film The Dressmaker, and has just finished filming the second season of The Wrong Girl back in Australia, playing her regular character Simone.

During her recent return home, Hayley's long term boyfriend David Kramer proposed, and culture magazines like Who and Instyle were quick to report the engagement. Personally and professionally, things seem in a good place for Hayley right now.

2017 is an interesting time to be a young actor, and Hayley is excited about the challenge of taking on great character roles, which she can really embody and develop. Keen to know more about her life and plans, we caught up with Hayley for a chat before she zoomed back to L.A. to embark on her next chapter.

How was filming the second season of The Wrong Girl? Was it a different experience to the first?
It was actually relatively similar. We have an amazing cast and crew who are all really lovely, they make going to work a very pleasant experience. I'm afraid it's not very dramatic. It's kind of a normal job, except some days you're running through Federation Square in a bridesmaid dress. Things are a little bit jazzy for sure, but really it's quite straightforward.

Will you continue to pursue work in television back in LA?
I don't discriminate between film or TV. For me it's about the character, about the role, I feel like that's what draws me to something. Twenty years ago TV used to be more of a dirty word but now everyone is obviously totally on board and adoring what's going on there. There are so many great shows. I feel like it's very exciting but it's just getting busier and busier.

Is there anything appealing about that from your perspective?
It's exciting. I think it must have been fun in the good old days when you had endless time to try take after take until you got just what the director wanted. You don't really get that luxury now so you've got to try to be really good on the first take.

No pressure! Speaking of time, we know how much of it you devote to reading books. You've listed Raymond Carver and Laurie Colwin as favourite authors, and anyone who knows you understands the impact Harry Potter had on you too. Is writing also a passion?
Not so much. Right now I don't have any desire to write something that I would then perform. I do enjoy writing, but I much prefer reading somebody else's hard work.

Makes sense. Let someone else create the roles and you focus on the delivery.
I think I might as well hone one skill. I don't want to steal all the Oscars.

Ha, that's kind of you. You grew up in Byron Bay, which is such a dreamy place. What have you liked most about moving to L.A?
I really like the iced coffees.

What's the difference?
When I drink coffee, it's like a coffee you would give to a baby - mostly milk and the essence of coffee with a lot of ice. I get peppy when I have coffee and I'm peppy anyway so I don't really need it. Actually, you know what I really love in L.A though? Hummingbirds. They are the closest thing you'll get to a fairy - they're these tiny, magic, iridescent things that hover in front of your window. I could watch them all day.

I'm starting to piece together your life over there..
Actually, I also do a lot of urban foraging, I steal excess fruit like citrus and avocado from gardens when there's an abundance of them. I like to think of it as waste management.

Do you get a sense that L.A is a place of positive activism?
Definetly, California is incredibly progressive, thank goodness. The people I'm surrounded by are very politically active. I was keen to do something tangible in an area I'm passionate about so I became an escort at an abortion clinic, basically helping to prevent people from being harmed by protesters. Archaic ideas to do with women's rights make me livid.

That's such an important thing to get behind.
I'll continue to do it but it will never cease to amaze me that the protesters feel as passionately about their argument as I do about mine. It's really disheartening to think that we can exist with such opposing views.

It is crazy. It's compelling to create your own bubble where everyone around you has the same belief system and approach. With this, you're really leaving that safe space.
I think it's so important. It's for the same reason that I'm a huge advocate for public transport. It brings so many different people together and I think it's crucial to interact with people of different socio-economic backgrounds, cultures and religions - the people that you come across on public transport. I think that's a huge problem with L.A. No public transport means that people are really segregated, with no means of entering each other's lives.

That's a good point.
And besides, it's how I had a real life Sex in the City moment when I got on a bus that I was also on the side of. It was advertising a show I was in called Slide and I would never have had that moment if it weren't for public transport.

A real Carrie Bradshaw moment?
There's not enough of them!

And what's next for you?
A bunch of stuff I've been working on is coming out, so I'm excited to see that, then I'm back to auditioning. I'm also excited to get back to my ceramics class and to see my friends and my.... fiancee!


Photography Jordan Drysdale

Styling Abby Bennett

Hayley Magnus