Ringmaster talks her surprising Masked Singer nerves and teases a 'bit of a shift' for The Goldbergs
Warning: This article contains spoilers about the season 7 finale of The Masked Singer.
The circus is packing up and leaving town.
After a series of performances all season that highlighted her powerhouse vocals, Ringmaster's time on The Masked Singer finally came to a close in the season 7 finale, where she was declared the runner-up, following the ouster of the Prince (who was revealed to be actor and singer Cheyenne Jackson). Meaning Firefly is this season's champion.
Before the winner was unmasked, Ringmaster's true identity was finally revealed, and the circus kitty was unveiled as The Goldbergs star and singer, Hayley Orrantia. Ahead of the reveal, Orrantia opened up to EW about the surprising fears she had in doing The Masked Singer, her plans for new music, and teases what to expect in this next season of The Goldbergs.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, was doing the show an immediate yes for you?
HAYLEY ORRANTIA: It was an immediate yes for me. I've seen the show, and I always thought that like, as fun as it is, it's wacky, ridiculous. I couldn't fathom what it would actually be like to be on stage, how hard it might be to sing — what a fun challenge. I don't know if you know this about me, but I've been doing music my whole life. And I just happened to fall into acting and get cast on the best show ever, The Goldbergs, and we were just picked up for our tenth season. And it's been awesome, and my character does sing on the show, but I have this whole other side of me and my career as an independent artist that I haven't really gotten to show that many people. And so for me, this was a really fun opportunity to present myself as the artist that I am. And I thought just what a fun, better way to do this than to do it dressed as a cat in a circus tent. It was a really fun experience.
Was it everything you thought it would be?
Yes. I mean, you can only prepare to a certain degree. Because, you know, in my mind, I was thinking like, how hard is it going to be to sing in that? I actually read the article that JoJo, who was the Black Swan on a previous season, she was talking about singing into her pillow, to try to get used to using her diaphragm in a way that you feel a little more enclosed or claustrophobic, because that is kind of what it's like to be in the mask. So I tried to prep as much as I could, but you know, you have to get the costume on and feel it out for yourself. So I would do every possible rehearsal they could give me that I could fit into my schedule, so that I could really feel what it was like to move around in the costume and sing in it. So outside of that, the actual experience was everything that I had hoped for. The crew was incredible. Everyone was so supportive, and doing whatever they could to help and make you feel comfortable on stage. So it was a really, really fun experience.
I loved your costume, too. I know sometimes they present you with more than one option, but how did you feel when you first saw the Ringmaster?
Yeah, Ringmaster costume was the first option they presented me. And you know, they said, "Obviously, if you absolutely hate it, we'll try to come up with something else." And I just was like, "Nope, no need to see any more. You hit the nail on the head." I never could have imagined that costume, either, because in my mind, I was just going to typical animals, like armadillos and raccoons and things like that. I didn't know that you could morph it into like, "Oh, it's a cat head, but she's a ringmaster so there's a circus tent." The creative nature of the costume department is beyond imagination, just what they were capable of doing.
You mentioned singing on The Goldbergs. Were you more nervous to sing on The Masked Singer or on your show, or was it about the same?
I was very nervous every night that I went out on stage for Masked Singer to a degree that it shocked me, because I'm pretty comfortable on stage. And I actually felt like I would feel more comfortable singing up there had I not been in a mask, which I know is kind of the opposite of what other people said in the past, and also the opposite of what I anticipated feeling. But I think that because there was the element of carrying all of the weight of the costume, being fearful of tripping over it, or tripping over the boots I had on, on top of am I gonna be able to get a big enough breath in the mask, like all of that was compounded into just having to be on stage and do the performance in general. So I was very nervous every single time I got on stage. To the point where I thought like, "Am I going to hit the notes?" I was able to get through it, but I loved being able to actually take the mask off and sing a little bit in that final moment after I got unmasked. I felt a little more freedom, like, "Okay, I confidently can do this now."
Were you disappointed with the final outcome?
I mean, yes and no. I feel like, for me, I was just honored to be asked to do the show. I had no way of knowing who else I was competing against. And to be honest with you, I was in my living room watching the show, because we don't know who the other contestants are until they're unmasked on the show, not even while we're filming. So I'm in my living room watching back these performances and hearing Jennifer Holliday. I do not know how that woman did not win this season. I don't know how she didn't make it to the finals. So for me, like, yes, in a way, it would be really incredible to say I won The Masked Singer and take home the trophy. But at the same time, I'm just genuinely so grateful to have been on the same stage as some of these people who I've looked up to growing up. So for me, it was just, I had so many great things I could take away from it outside of that.
It's a big day for you, because The Goldbergs is also airing its finale tonight, too.
Yes, it's our season 9 finale. And there's quite a lot of stuff going on with my character specifically. So tonight is a very big night for me.
What direction do you hope the show or your character goes in for next season?
Well, there's going to be a little bit of a shift in the family, I can say that. And I'm excited to kind of see my character and my husband's character become parents. And there's going to be a lot of wacky storylines within that world. Because Beverly Goldberg [played by Wendi McLendon-Covey] is the most overbearing mother, so to picture her being a grandmother, the world is not ready for that.
Did any of your costars figure out that you were on The Masked Singer?
You know, they haven't. I'm dying to be able to post about it and be like, "You guys, those couple of weeks that I wasn't around filming, this is what I was doing." I think they are completely in the dark. But I have had a couple of friends and family reach out and be like, "Okay, I know you probably can't say anything, but I know this is you," and I'm like, "I don't know what you're talking about." But it's really fun when certain people are able to figure it out, and I'm just having to keep them in the dark.
I know you just released a new single. What can you tell me about your future music plans?
Yeah, so I just released a song called "Open Your Mouth," which I wrote with my friend about when she ran into her ex-boyfriend at a bar. And she was like, "Man, why did we even break up? He looks really good." And then he opened his mouth and she was like, "Right, that's exactly why it didn't work out in the first place." So it's a really fun upbeat pop song and I'm really looking forward to releasing new singles. I have plenty coming up that are more pop-leaning. I feel like this last year specifically I've been writing a lot, just me and a piano and trying to get back to the roots of who I am as a musician, and then sort of forming it out in the studio. So it's been a really fun creative time and I'm just so ready to be able to share that with other people.
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Celebs compete in this reality-singing TV show while wearing elaborate costumes to conceal their identities. Can you guess the celebrity behind the mask?