Interview by Jana Letonja

Hayden Panettiere is best known for her roles on the highly acclaimed NBC series ‘Heroes’ and the ABC hit series ‘Nashville’, which earned her two Golden Globe nominations. This March, Hayden returned to the Scream franchise in its sixth installment, which also marks her first on-screen appearance since 2018.

Hayden, you’ve made your comeback in the sixth installment of ‘Scream’ franchise this March, where you reprised your role. How did it feel being back on set and being back in the business?

The anticipation leading up to it was a little daunting, but as soon as I got there I felt like I was right where I belonged, where I was meant to be. I took some time off that was much needed, but acting is what I love to do. It’s who I am, it’s just a part of me. And being back on set, I felt like I was back home.

You started acting very early, when you were only 4 years old. How did being a child actress impact your life?

It became my life, it became who I was, it’s brought me all over the world. I love traveling. It’s allowed me to work with incredible people, meet incredible people and do things that some people can only dream of doing. It’s always a surprise, it always keeps you on your toes, but being an actress is a gift, it’s a blessing. I love it and it’s been a heck of a ride.

Being a child actress is different. Obviously when you’re a kid, you’re so brutally honest. And the more experiences that you have in life, you take them with you and it allows you to use them in other characters that you play, in other roles. It just gets better and better with time. 

Many viewers know you best from NBC’s series ‘Heroes’ and ABC’s hit series ‘Nashville’, which also earned you two Golden Globe nominations. How do you look back on those two projects of yours?

Playing Juliette Barnes was one of the greatest periods in my life. It was hard work, but I had a lot in common with the character. There were a lot of things that I was going through in real life that I was acting out on screen as well. I found myself there. It was incredible getting out there and being able to do the performance scenes and being able to play this character who had so many dimensions, where she got to be that girl you loved to hate, but you understood why she was how she was.

But then when you saw behind the curtain and what was really going on with her, she was human. She was just a girl going through human things with her family, so to go through all of that was a huge blessing and learning experience. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. And the fact that I got nominated for two Golden Globes still gets me excited. I never in my life thought that I would ever hear “You were nominated for a Golden Globe”. And that’s one of the things I’m the most proud of.

Now being back to acting, what did you miss the most about it while you were on hiatus?

I missed the camaraderie. I missed being around a team, a family. When you’re on a project, your co-stars and crew members and directors become your family for a period of time. And it’s like going into battle together. You create these incredible memories with each other that you just can’t explain to anyone else. I missed having those moments, walking away knowing that we worked really hard and we created something beautiful that was going to impact people and make them feel something. It’s a wonderful experience each and every film, each and every show that you do. 

Recently, you’ve been discovering your love for fashion. What does fashion represent to you and how would you describe it in your own words?

Fashion is a form of expression, of art, of creativity, of giving people a hint to who you are, at least on that day.

You’ve also been finding out that you carry yourself differently in certain brands. Can you elaborate more on this. How do certain brands make you feel differently?

Alexander McQueen is one of my favorites, the brand makes me feel like I am a boss, like I am a powerful, strong woman. And it makes me feel powerful and feminine and sexy and alluring too. Then there are other moments where I like to feel soft and welcoming and just comfortable. I have a very eclectic taste and style.

You got to feel good about what you’re wearing. As I’ve gotten older and my body has changed, as a woman having had a child and just aging, I found that I have to change the way I dress myself and certain different things feel and look better on me now then than they did back then, and vice versa.

During your career, you’ve advocated for many causes. As a woman, which issues stand out in today’s world to you the most? Which issues should be talked about more?

I think there are a lot of issues that I’ve spoken about that have stigma around them, whether it be postpartum depression or mental and psychological health in general. Things that people are afraid to talk about. We are not perfect beings. Becoming parents is a huge topic with ups and downs that come with it and is not spoken about very often, because we all want to be perfect parents. We all dream of becoming moms and dads and how we’re gonna be perfect parents, but there’s no such thing as becoming a perfect parent. It’s one step at a time. Life throws you curve balls. 

Mental health and learning to love yourself physically, emotionally and mentally is so important. Not being afraid to be yourself, to be different, to stand out, to not worry that other people will not love everything you do or wear or have to say is the most important. It is important that you love what you do, what you wear and what you say.

After having you daughter, you have yourself battled postpartum depression. Why do you believe this is still such a taboo theme and why should women and society talk more openly about it?

We should, so we can pre prepare each other, so we can help each other, so that we don’t feel so alone in the process. So that if and when it does happen, we can recognize it sooner and faster, and we know what questions to ask and how to ask for help and keep ourselves from going through needless anxiety, depression and sadness. I can only speak as a woman, as a mother, but feeling imperfect as a mother breaks your heart. All you wanna be is perfect for your child. And it’s okay to not be perfect. It’s a learning curve for everyone, but it is so important for us to be there for each other, to share our war stories, so that other women out there are not alone in their struggles, in their feelings. There’s not just one way to become a parent or one way to feel about becoming a parent.

I don’t want people to feel alone because I know how alone I felt. And when you feel alone and like you’re the only one, there’s a lot of shame that comes along with it. I don’t want anyone out there to feel shame for the pain that they’re going through or what they think is not right or just generally feeling something’s wrong with them. There’s nothing wrong with them. Let’s talk about it. And I guarantee you there are so many people out there feeling exactly the same way. 

What would you describe as your most valuable life lesson you have learned?

To learn how to love yourself and to learn how to go easy on yourself and to forgive yourself. I usually am and have always been my own worst enemy. I think about how I talk to myself every day. And if I’m speaking badly to myself, I think if I would I ever say the negative things that I’m saying to myself to a friend of mine. The answer is always no, if it’s negative. I really like to be be conscious and aware of how I speak to myself, how I talk to myself when I look in the mirror. And just to be good to ourselves, because it’s much harder to love other people if we can’t love ourselves.

After ‘Scream VI’, what’s coming up next for you?

I have an amazing team of people around me. I have a lot of things in the works. It’s gonna take some time, but it will be worth the wait. It’s gonna be fun.

And I’d love to find myself behind the camera as well in the future. Exploring as a director, as a producer, to really build a project from the bottom up.

Talent: Hayden Panettiere @haydenpanettiere 
Photographer / Creative director/ Set design: Tyler Kenny @tylerpatrickkenny @tunnelmediagroup @tunnel_pr 
Stylist: Raz Martinez @itsmerazzie
Production: Tunnel Media Group @tunnelmediagroup 
Exec producer:@daniellehstylesOn-site producer : @jasonloveking1234 Hair: Rena Calhoun @rena.calhoun 
Make-up: Janice Daoud @janicedaoud
Styling assistants: Diamond Buchanan, Monica Morales & Denade Maas @diamondmoniquee @monivalenciana @denade_asefa_
Fashion market associate: Grace Connaughton @grace.connStudio techs: Reno Ronquillo & Madi Silieo @renoronq @madisilieoStudio: The Audrey @theaudrey.La
Editor: Timi Letonja @timiletonja
Interview: Jana Letonja @janaletonja
Cover design: Arthur Roeloffzen @arthurroeloffzenSpecial thanks to Kasey Kitchen @marquepr