‘The Fosters’ Star Hayden Byerly Talks Jude’s Development, ‘Jonnor’, LGBTQ Prom (EXCLUSIVE)
The Fosters is one of the strongest family dramas on television today, and Hayden Byerly is among its finest performers. In the role of Jude, Byerly explores the tricky waters of sexual identity and feelings of belonging, both in family and in friendship.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking with Byerly about this Monday’s episode of The Fosters, titled “More Than Words,” in which Jude goes to an LGBTQ prom with his boyfriend, Connor (Gavin MacIntosh). We also got to discuss what we can expect from Season 3, moving forward, as well as some of the challenges of playing a character as irreducibly complex as Jude.
With Jude’s sexuality now out in the open, do you think there’s a possibility we might see him get more involved in the LGBT community? There’s the prom this week with Connor, but I’m wondering if there’s more beyond that.
I think that there may be more beyond that in the future. I’m not exactly sure if Jude is someone who is necessarily super-excited to go to a bunch of LGBT events. But, in the near future, we might see a little bit more of that.
Jude is discovering a lot about himself this year, and more comfortably discovering his own identity, independent of his relationship with, say, Callie. How has it been playing Jude’s transition this season, as an actor?
It’s been interesting! It’s always very cool to portray the roles where you’re doing something a little different from your life. Obviously, portraying sexuality is something everyone does, kind of figuring that out. I think that, for me, I found out pretty easily and pretty early on that I was straight, so to play a character who has so much time to figure out who he was, and for it to be a big struggle for him to accept that, and to be able to be comfortable labeling himself as that, is something that has been very interesting.
And has it been challenging to play a gay character at all?
I would say that acting is always challenging. I think there are always parts of it that are harder than others. I don’t necessarily think that, because he is gay, it is a different role. Someone being gay or straight doesn’t necessarily make the entire thing harder to play. But I do think there are parts of it — being a young, straight male — that are a little weird. But I’m an actor as well. So that’s something you have to get over.
With Jude being adopted and learning he and Callie have separate fathers, it feels like there’s a distance between them lately. Will we see any more clashes between Jude and Callie?
There may be. I don’t think that there is. As we did see, there was a little clash between the two of them talking about Donald, and whether or not Callie wanted to see him. With them kind of resolving that issue between the two of them, I think that’s something that is one of the very few things they’ve ever had a disagreement about. So I think they’ll continue to have that close brother-sister relationship. But they may get into another scruff here or there.
To what extent do you feel Jude is like you? Is he a challenging character to play?
I think that Jude is a very observant person. I try to make sure I pay attention to everything that’s going on. Jude is a person who feels very connected to people who are in his life, and doesn’t necessarily want them to just pop in and then pop out. And I think I’m kind of the same way, in that sense. So I think there are a couple of different ways that Jude and I are very similar.
To what extent do you think Connor has influenced Jude, and vice versa?
I think an influence that Jude may have had on Connor is back, earlier on, when Connor was talking about how Jude never talks bad about anyone. Connor realizes it’s not necessarily good to talk bad about anyone, that it doesn’t really accomplish anything. I think that that’s one thing Connor has learned from Jude, in my opinion. And I think that Jude has learned to open up a little bit more, having Connor as his friend, and now as his boyfriend. I feel that Jude is just a little more open and himself when he’s around people, thanks to Connor.
What has been your favorite scene to shoot in the entire run of the series?
My favorite scene to shoot this season hasn’t actually happened yet! So I can’t say, but it is coming up soon. It’s a very fun moment. I think The Fosters is a very serious drama, and we have tons of that on the show. And I always love the moments where it kind of takes a break from that and gets to the fun part. Not saying the show isn’t great, but I think there is a particular part this season that features a lot of relaxed fun with the family. And I like that part the most.
What has been your most challenging moment on the show, as an actor?
As an actor, learning how to cry on cue is something that’s always challenging. I think those have been the most challenging scenes I’ve had, just any scene where I’ve had to get worked up or basically cry. So I think that’s something that’s always a little difficult for me, still trying to find out how I can easily turn that on or off. That’s always been challenging for me.
What are you most looking forward to fans seeing this season?
I’m just looking forward to fans seeing how the entire storyline plays out. I enjoy some kind of closure or ending to certain stories, and that doesn’t always happen on The Fosters. We love to just keep throwing you guys in there, which is always a great thing. But I think that there are some storylines I’d like to see come to an end, and have their happy, fairytale endings.
What was it like shooting the LGBTQ prom, this coming episode? I would imagine it’s a bit different from things you’d see in other teen or family shows.
Yeah, it was actually very fun and very funny! It’s supposed to be a lot of gay, bisexual and transgender kids, and the majority of them were dressed in very fun, quirky outfits. And there were very random, certain things that made me laugh. It was very cool, and it was fun and light, for some parts. So it was an interesting experience to see how The Fosters put together this prom.
Thank you so much for talking with me today! Love the show, love your character, and love your work on it!
Thank you so much! Any time!
New episodes of The Fosters air Mondays at 8:00 PM ET on ABC Family.
For more on the show, check out my review of last week’s divisive episode, “Deja Vu”