Jaylen Barron: Built For This
Words + Interview By: Krystal Luster
Jaylen Barron is the star of the Netflix Original series “Free Rein”, which has currently run for 2 seasons and has been renewed for a third. Jaylen’s work has been recognized in several award ceremonies and she has been nominated for four “Young Artist Awards” but when Jaylen isn’t on set riding off into the sunset, she enjoys a more laid-back style of living.
What made you transition from modeling to acting?
It was always acting for me as far as I can remember. My mom says when I was three I watched Barney and Blues Clues and told her I wanted to “do that inside the TV”. So, my first job became modeling for JUSTICE, a girls clothing brand. Modeling was an opportunity and a side of the business I wanted to explore.
You’ve attended quite a few A-list events such as the NAACP Awards, Daytime Emmys, Radio Disney Music Awards and the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards. Tell us something about them that the viewers don’t normally see.
It’s usually very long and there is almost never any food so you’re starving by the end of the night, lol! At the same time, they are always a lot of fun because you get to be around your cast-mates in eager anticipation to see if you’ll win like when I was at NAACP and most recently the Creative Art Daytime Emmys.
How does it feel to have been nominated for four “Young Artist Awards”?
It’s a great feeling that people have taken notice of my acting because I love this career so much. It means the world to me that someone likes what I do.
Tell us about the wildly popular Showtime series, “Shameless”. How did your role as Dominique develop in season 6?
Oh, Shameless was one of the best jobs I’ve had. The people I worked with are incredible. I learned so much while there and I had so much fun. Dominique started coming out of that shell or was she always that girl, you think? I would love to be back on set with them all.
Was your family ever against you acting in the series due to the show’s adult content?
No, my parents and I always discuss these kinds of roles and it’s just a show after all and there was nothing they had me doing that was inappropriate or uncomfortable, ever. I know it didn’t look like it but that’s the magic of movies, isn’t it?
Tell us about your Netflix series, “Free Rein”.
Free Rein is a coming of age story about a 16 year old American girl who goes to England for the summer with her mom and sister. The adventures that follow her and her new-found love Raven; black beauty of a horse, who changes her life forever. These moments are shared with new friends, foes and of course cute boys.
What about the lead character Zoe stood out most to you?
She breaks stereotypical boundaries in the equestrian world without ever stating it. I like how the writers tell the story without prejudice or preconceived ideas on what families need to look like or what sports girls/women should be good at.
Do you like horses in real life? Have you ever owned/rode a horse prior to the show?
Yes, I love horses but I never rode them or owned one until the show. Going through the audition process, I “faked it till I made it”. The hard part was actually learning for the show. They caught on quickly that I didn’t actually know how to ride horses but they were willing to teach me. Luckily for me, I’m a quick learner!
How has Zoe changed over the course of 3 seasons?
Zoe grows up over the summers with the lessons that come with love, disappointment and sacrifice. She is also getting older and facing new challenges every season that are forcing her to take new perspective and grow personally.
Which of your roles has been your favorite to date?
I don’t have a favorite. They each have taught me so much. Each character has taught me a new perspective and challenged me to grow as an actress. I get a lot of feedback sometimes for not acting like a certain character I play but that’s what makes being an actress so much fun. I can be so diverse in everyone I play and at the end of the day, I get to be myself, Jaylen Barron.
Do you see social media as more harmful or helpful to people living in the spotlight?
I think it could be either depending on the person. Social media is very powerful and can be used in many ways and I’ve seen it effect everyone differently.
How has social media been beneficial to you career?
It’s been great. I get the opportunity to interact with fans on a daily basis and they get to see the real side of me off camera. It’s always great to see what my fans have to say and what they think of the many characters I portray.
How do you enjoy spending your free time?
I’m lowkey a homebody and I love to spend my free time with my dogs, snacks and TV, preferably watching a good documentary on the couch.
Are you currently binge-watching any shows?
I’ve been pretty busy lately so I haven’t really had a chance to binge much but I binge Love Island every chance I get, normally when it’s on during the weekend.
Who are your “Top” favorite actors?
Halle Berry, Viola Davis, Lupita Nyong’o and Emily Blunt. Halle Berry has been an idol for me since I was a kid because she was one of the few actresses I identified with. Viola Davis….well what can we say about her except she’s gold? Lupita Nyong’o is amazing and Emily Blunt is just such a great actress as well. Her character in “A Quiet Place” is beyond words.
As of today, what has been the most memorable event of your life that you will tell your children’s children?
I am the first American POC to play the lead in a Netflix Children’s original series. I am honored to have been given such a role and to be an inspiration to so many others. I’ve also been lucky enough to be featured in Netflix’s Strong Black Leads Instagram in acknowledgment of my role.
Follow Jaylen on Instagram at @Jaylenbarron and Twitter @Jaylenjbarron.
Photographer: Birdie Thompson @birds_eye_photo
Hair & Makeup: Allison Noelle @allisonnoellemakeup
Top: Mimi Chica