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Hallea Jones – Keys Open Doors

Words + Interview By: Lucky Smith

Meet actress Hallea Jones. The Toronto native comes from a family of talent and currently stars in Netflix’s “Locke & Key”. Our chat consisted of her love for music and creation process as well as her experience filming the show and what to expect from her after quarantine due to Covid-19 has ended. Enjoy!

We understand you come from a very talented family. Break that down for us. 
My dad is a professional pianist who played in bands his whole life, eventually teaching music at several different schools in Toronto. My mom played the alto sax and piano. My brother Kai Austin Jones is a multi-instrumentalist and producer who went to University of Toronto for Jazz trumpet and has been in many different bands his whole life. I also have half siblings from my dad’s first marriage who are both incredibly musical and their kids as well. The Jones music genes are definitely strong! 

Considering entertainment is in your bloodline, was taking that route something you always wanted to do? 
Definitely. I’ve always been very loud and out there. Performing has never been an anxiety inducing experience. I did a lot of plays and musical shows when I was younger. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I started doubting it as a possible career path but luckily that idea didn’t last too long! 

Explain your experience auditioning for the television show, “Degrassi: Next Class”. Why was that audition significant? 
When I was in grade 11, Degrassi came to hold open auditions for anyone at my arts high school who wanted to try out. I hadn’t been accepted into the drama program at my school and was just a collegiate (I was a local to the school, not an arts student) so I had always felt like whenever I auditioned for school shows, I wasn’t considered talented enough to be a part of them. This was finally a professional audition where they didn’t care if I was in the arts program or not. Long story short, I was 1 of 4 who got a callback! I didn’t get the role but it definitely made me feel like I could in fact pursue acting as a career. 

Netflix has been killing it for quite some time now. Tell us about “Locke & Key” and your role as Eden Hawkins. 
It’s a dreamland honor to be working for a major production house like Netflix and to be a part of such a well done show as Locke & Key is even more mind blowing. Locke & Key is this story based on comic books by Joe Hill, about the Locke family who after their father is mysteriously murdered, move back to his ancestral home where the kids start finding these incredible magical keys. Just as they’re starting to have fun with them, a demon named Dodge becomes ruthless in their desire for their keys and will evidently stop at nothing to get them. The kids deal with this demon at home, then go to school and deal with miss Eden Hawkins – the school’s Queen Bee. She’s a powerhouse who likes to have things her way and doesn’t have much of a filter. We are introduced to her as a spacey gets-what-she-wants popular girl and as the season grows, we find her subtle sides to come through, making it seem like she’s turned a corner and has become a friend to the Lockes…but then…. well, we know how things turn. 

How much of your character is similar to you off screen? No spoilers intended but there is a part in the series where your character is pranked in the cafeteria. How would you react to a situation like that in real life? 
I would say I’m not much like her at all now in my life but channelled a lot of who I was in high school into Eden. That cafeteria scene was really difficult (and fun!) because if we weren’t in control of our bodies, wouldn’t that be the scariest thing in the world? To be trapped within ourselves and unable to stop from doing things? That’s terrifying! So, I definitely felt that fear within me when we went through that scene. 

If you were able to choose a special power, what would it be? 
I would love the power to retain information really quickly – almost like a photographic memory. I have a horrible memory so it would be incredibly useful to be able to retain anything I was educating myself on, even people’s names. I wish I had the special power to remember everyone’s name I meet.

What do you think viewers will love most about this series? 
There is so much more than just magic in this show. There is a lot of relatable storylines and themes – relationship troubles, loss, grief, coming of age, siblings, trust, alcoholism, love, forgiveness, revenge, teenage mischief… I think it’s easy for people to get caught up in the whole thinking it’s like a Harry Potter or Narnia kind of show, when, yes, it does have some of those elements, but there’s still so much more to discover beyond the fantastical. 

Which of your roles thus far has been the most challenging to date and why? 
Definitely Eden. This is my first recurring role so my first time to develop a character through more than just a scene or two. The physical work we did on scenes like the cafeteria scene in 1×05 and all the other fun jump scares and what not – Eden gets a fair bit of fun and challenging scenes throughout the show that I loved doing and learned a lot from. 

Let’s talk about music for a bit. We understand you have written over 40 songs in the past year. That is a lot! What type of subject matter are you writing about and what genre of music do you create?
Yeah! I’ve become pretty obsessed with it. I can’t really answer that fully because each song is something new and I don’t ever really know what I’m writing about until I’m half way through a song sometimes. I definitely float within the Doris Day meets Amy Winehouse meets Lily Allen genre – whatever the heck that would be.

What does being a producer entail and how did you approach the creation of your upcoming project?
Right now, it entails a LOT of learning. I’m just teaching myself how to use Logic Pro X so I start with the basics of what I know how to do and build on it as I go and desire different sounds and new challenges. I usually go through SPLICE.COM and find a loop or beat I really like and improvise over it. If I end up liking the improv, I’ll pick it apart and find the lyrics and melodies I like and then start recording it for real, adding as I go!  

Which artists inspire you musically?
Amy Winehouse, John Mayer, NAO, Bruno Major, Carole King and Elton John. 

Being from Toronto, are you a Drake fan at all? If so, what are your favorite records of his? 
I am a Drake fan! I’m still obsessed with Nice For What… brings back 2018 summer vibes. 

We are currently going through turmoil globally. How has the Coronavirus pandemic affected you and your loved ones in particular? 
The biggest effect it’s had on my life has been my social life, of course. Work hasn’t changed because I do almost everything at home, except filming (Season Two will have to wait until this pandemic is over which makes me sad cause that may not be for a while…) but I’ve been able to focus on all my music at home. My Mondays are quiet though, which makes me sad because that’s the social night of the week for musicians in Toronto. I’m definitely missing my music community. In the way of my family, they’re doing well. They’ve been keeping an eye on this thing since it was first reported, so they’ve been good, but I definitely miss them. 

What are you enjoying doing most while under quarantine? 
Absolutely anything and absolutely nothing. Whenever I want. It’s been really interesting having no commitments that need to be met or events to take my mind away from music. I luckily have a roommate I get along with well so we’ve been bonding a lot and playing cards, painting, dancing.. just having fun for the hell of it.  

What can we expect from you once all of this madness is over with? 
To be busy working on season two of Locke & Key and in the professional studio working on an album! Right now all my SoundCloud music is not mixed or mastered because I have no idea how to do that but I’m excited to get working with some really talented Toronto and LA producers to take my sound to the next level! 

Any last words? 
Stay inside & remember to sit down and actively listen to music once in a while! You can keep up with me on all my socials @halleajones.

Photo By: Kiem Lam

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