In entertainment, few stars shine as brightly and boldly as Hayden Panettiere. From her early start in the industry at just 11 months old to her evolution into a multifaceted artist, Panettiere has captivated audiences with her talent and vibrant personality.
In this exclusive interview with IRK Magazine, we delve into the many facets of her life and career, from her recent transformation with stunning pink hair to her thoughts on the ever-evolving world of fashion and film. With her passion for activism, dedication to the ocean, and commitment to philanthropy, Hayden Panettiere reveals the authentic and inspiring journey that has led her to where she is today.
IRK: We’re so excited to catch up with you and share these gorgeous images with the world and your fans! Your new pink hair! We are obsessed! Why did you dye it, and what does it mean to you?
Hayden: Thank you! I’ve had pink hair before, and I loved it! I’ve been begging my team to let me dye it for a while now, and given what I had on my slate with work and photo shoots, I wasn’t able to… Then the strike hit, so I thought… why not!? I’m not filming anything right now, and it’s an opportunity to do what I want with it and be creative differently.
IRK: How has your style evolved over the years?
Hayden: I’ve always loved color—especially bright colors, so that hasn’t changed. When I was growing up, I was constantly told how I should dress and what I should look like. My “style” was practically decided for me. Then, as I got older and surrounded myself with different people–more positive people– I began to be encouraged to embrace who I am and the type of image I want to project. In doing that, I’ve grown to love fashion so much more because it’s become a creative and freeing form of expression—not something that confines me.
IRK: Can you tell us about your journey into the world of acting? What inspired you to pursue a career in the entertainment industry? Hayden: Honestly, I didn’t have much choice in the matter. I started acting at 11 months old, and I’ve never stopped… It began with modeling and commercials, then I was on two soap operas (One Life To Live and Guiding Light), and then I started booking bigger roles in films and television series.
IRK: You’ve worked in both television and film. What are the key differences in your approach when working on these two mediums?
Hayden: It depends on the role, but typically, when doing a film, you do not have to put as much time into it. You have long set days for both, but a film is usually over within a few months. If you’re on a series, you’re looking at most of your year (depending on the project) with a small 2-3 month hiatus. You’re also playing the same character for longer when you’re on a series, whereas with a film, you’re only in that role for a stint, and then it’s on to the next one. The exact amount of prep goes into both, but when you’re on a series, you get into a groove with the role, making it easier. You sort of slip into the character with less effort because the character is still part of you.
IRK: Acting can be a challenging profession. What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career, and how did you overcome them?
Hayden: There have been a lot of challenges in my profession over the years, but some of the more difficult ones were when I was younger… Growing up in the spotlight is tough. I was bullied in school and spent a lot of my time on sets around adults. It’s strange because you’re so young, but a part of two very different worlds… One is as a young kid trying to make friends and navigate your way through life, and the other is as a young kid surrounded by people much older than you and inviting you to Hollywood parties. It made it hard to fit in anywhere.
IRK: Besides acting, you’re also known for your work in activism and philanthropy. Could you tell us about some causes close to your heart and your work in those areas?
Hayden: Yes… I love marine life and have dedicated much time and energy to ocean conservation. I’ve worked with several organizations over the years, particularly The Whaleman Foundation. I also created a non-profit organization at the start of the war in Ukraine called Hoplon International, which provides medical supplies and relief to Ukrainians on the frontlines. There are also a few animal rescue organizations that I support as well—I’ve always loved animals.
IRK: You’ve been in the industry from a very young age. How did you navigate the transition from child actor to adult roles, and what advice would you give to other young actors going through the same transition?
Hayden: The transition comes naturally as you age, but it never gets easier… As you age, you get more acclimated to life on set and in the spotlight. As far as any advice I would give, being a young actor can be challenging… Just ensure you’re doing it because it’s fun for you, and you genuinely love it. You’ll encounter many people who will be jealous because they don’t understand, but don’t let them get to you. One really good friend is better than ten not-so-great ones. Surround yourself with a good group of people who are grounding.
IRK: Are there any actors, writers, or directors you admire and would love to work with in the future?
Hayden: Tons! I love Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Coolidge, Margot Robbie, Leo DiCaprio, Denzel Washington (I’d love to work with him again), Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Tom Hooper, Taylor Sheridan… I’m a fan of Mike White’s work and would love to be a part of THE WHITE LOTUS. I’d also love to be a part of the Marvel or DC Universe….
IRK: What do you find most fulfilling about being an actress, and what keeps you motivated and passionate about your work in the entertainment industry?
Hayden: There’s something magical when all the hard work comes together, and you see that beautiful piece of art on screen. It takes so many people to bring a film or a series to life, and seeing that all come to fruition is special. I also love the fans’ reactions… the work we do is for them!
IRK: You love fashion! Tell us about the brands that inspire you. And make you feel empowered?
Hayden: I love to find pieces of clothing that I can wear and that don’t wear me. Brands like Alexander McQueen, Yves Saint Laurent, and Prada are a few of my favorites. I like to be comfortable when I’m lounging at home, so I wear soft sweats. Aviator Nation is one of my go-to for comfort. I probably feel the most powerful when I’m wearing McQueen…
IRK: Which designer would you love to collaborate with?
Hayden: I’m always open to collaborating with anyone with a creative vision who wants to tell a good story… someone who wants to make people feel good about themselves. Regarding clothing, any of the designers I mentioned above would be amazing.
IRK: You’re thinking of starting a makeup line. What’s your inspiration?
Hayden: Color! I love color art, so any opportunity to be creative in that way is always fun. My makeup artist (Janice Daoud) and I have been brainstorming a few ideas… What I can say is that what I create will be different and unlike anything else!
IRK: Outside of acting, can you share any projects you are excited about?
Hayden: I have a few things in the works, but I can’t talk about those just yet… Hopefully soon!
IRK: Why is finding your voice so poignant with finding your sense of style?
Hayden: Because your style reflects you and what you say to the world… it’s how you’re choosing to represent yourself. Without your own voice in that, you’re just playing a role.
IRK: You’ve always been ahead of the curve with trends. What does the future of fashion look like?
Hayden: More bright colors and fashion that’s made for curvy women… I’d love to see more artistic pieces (like you see on the runways) but for all body types.
IRK: How has the entertainment industry evolved during your career, and what are your thoughts on the changes and challenges it has faced in recent years?
Hayden: I’m proud of the women in my field who have spoken up for the injustices brought to them by men in this industry, and it makes me happy to see more diversity on-screen. There’s more respect for one another nowadays than there used to be. Let’s hope we keep moving in the right direction. IRK: Your personal life has often been under the media’s spotlight. How do you maintain a work-life balance and privacy in a high-profile career?
Hayden: I’m very selective with where I go and who I give my time to. I’ve also learned not to care what people think. People will always find negative things to say—and usually, it’s just an unhappy person projecting their misery onto someone else. I guess you could say I’ve developed thick skin… You have to in this business!
IRK: How do you prepare for emotionally challenging or intense scenes in your roles, and how do you unwind after such performances? Hayden: I do a lot of character work to find who this person is that I’m portraying… You’re also still playing “you” to a degree, so the emotion has to be real. When I was younger, I used to think of something really sad if I had to cry in a scene. That’s still a helpful technique, but if you’re present doing the work, the emotion just freely flows. It’s also helpful when you have a good partner to work off of—it’s all a collaboration.
IRK: Do you plan to sing again? Any plans for an album?
Hayden: I wouldn’t mind doing an album and singing again, but it must be for the right reason. There’s a role I’m eyeing where I would get to sing again, so we’ll see what happens with that…
IRK: We’ve partnered with the United Nations to increase awareness of the Global Goals! What goal (s) do you most identify with?
Hayden: A tough choice and all these goals are excellent, but I have to go with LIFE BELOW WATER because of my passion for marine life.
IRK: We all dress to feel good, and you looked fabulous on set. How do you like dressing up for fashion shoots?
Hayden: I love it! I love playing with clothes and having fun with different parts of my personality that come out when I put certain pieces on.