Who Is Laya DeLeon Hayes? 5 Things to Know About Equalizer Actress

By Nathan Johnson Posted:
Laya DeLeon Hayes in The Equalizer Season 4

Laya DeLeon Hayes has been a major star of CBS' The Equalizer series since its inception in 2021, with many now wanting to know more about the actress.

Based on an original 1980s TV series and book of the same name by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim, The Equalizer follows Queen Latifah's Robyn McCall as she uses her impressive skills to protect those who can't protect themselves.

In the show, Laya DeLeon Hayes stars as Delilah Fulton, the daughter of the main character, Robyn McCall.

Who Is The Equalizer's Laya DeLeon Hayes?

Laya DeLeon Hayes in The Equalizer

Laya DeLeon Hayes' Acting Journey Started with Chuck E. Cheese

Laya DeLeon Hayes (born June 22, 2004) is originally from the Carolinas and has many fond memories of her childhood. 

In an interview with Mixed Asian Media, the 19-year-old actress reflected on her upbringing, revealing how she "moved to Texas" for a brief time but still visited her family any chance she got:

"I was born in the Carolinas and then moved to Texas, until I was two. We would go back and visit, and I would hang out with all my Filipino cousins and my grandparents. We would cook lumpia and longganisa… and I’d stay and hang out with my family (just me) for about two months, like the whole summer."

Hayes then explained what Christmas looked like for her and her family:

"Then for Christmas time, I would usually visit both my Filipino side and my dad’s sides of the family, both in the Carolinas. We would visit them twice a year, every year, and we kinda carried that tradition throughout my life, which I’m very grateful for."

The actress then stated how she first got into acting, revealing that she "[took] acting lessons out in Texas" before "moving to California," where she now resides:

"After about six years in Texas, I told my parents I wanted to start acting, and they really supported me from the very beginning. I ended up taking acting lessons out in Texas, then we ended up moving to California to pursue it professionally, and I’ve been out [there] ever since. So, that’s been about… eight years out in California? Which is crazy."

Hayes then explained her first time ever being on a set, which was a photoshoot for the popular children's restaurant/arcade combo, Chuck E. Cheese.

According to Hayes, the shoot was "for Chuck E. Cheese brochures," so she was photographed while "[playing] skee ball and air hockey:"

"I’m very grateful for 'The Equalizer,' and this opportunity coming up, because I get to live temporarily on the East coast in New York and New Jersey. My first gig I ever booked was this photo shoot for Chuck E. Cheese brochures, and it stayed in Chuck E. Cheese for five years! I was 8, it was my first introduction to being on a set, and all I had to do was play skee ball and air hockey, and all they did was take pictures. It was a great first gig!"

Laya's First Major Role Was Replacing Doc McStuffins

Hayes' first big break was taking on the role of Doc McStuffins in the animated TV series of the same name.

The actress replaced Kiara Muhammed in the show's third season, instantly thrusting her into the lead role of a major project.

In an interview with 1883 Magazine, Hayes described what it was like to play in Doc McStuffins, revealing that she "had never done voiceover work before:"

"I booked 'Doc McStuffins' when I was nine-years-old and I had never done voiceover work before. That was like my first real regular series ever, my first consistent working job and voiceover was like this brand new world. And again, all of these things have shown me as well as those actors. Like, I really can’t put myself into a box or be categorized as one thing. And because of that, I feel very, very grateful."

While speaking to YAYOMG!, she also talked about how "voice acting is a little more challenging," and explained why:

"Voice acting is a little more challenging because I’m using my voice to portray the character. I have to adapt my voice to reflect what I want the character to express and I may have to say the lines multiple times until it’s the right feel."

Laya Loves Working with Queen Latifah on The Equalizer

Laya DeLeon Hayes is one of the main characters of CBS' The Equalizer, appearing in nearly every episode of the series since it first premiered in 2021.

On set, Hayes gets to spend a lot of time with series lead Queen Latifah since the two play a mother/daughter duo in the show.

On-screen, Latifah's character, Robyn, and Hayes' Delilah have a bit of a rift between them and don't always see eye-to-eye. However, according to Hayes, her dynamic with Queen Latifah off-screen couldn't be more different.

In the same interview with Mixed Asian Media from above, Hayes revealed that she "[has] to pinch [herself] every time" the two get to work together.

She also called Queen Latifah "truly amazing," explaining that she gets firsthand experience learning from her:

"I literally have to pinch myself every time. She’s truly amazing. She is an actual queen who definitely lives up to the name. She is one of the coolest people, and most humble as well. She’s been a trailblazer for so many people in the entertainment industry, so the fact that I get to learn from and bond with her on set, it really is a dream. I feel very grateful, very lucky."

Laya's Angry Black Girl Role Earned Her a NAACP Nomination

Despite being so young, Laya DeLeon Hayes has already played in a variety of different roles across animation, live-action, television, feature films, and video games. 

Her extensive resume is impressive in itself, but she is also able to boast that she already received an award nomination for the NAACP Image Awards for her work as the main character of The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster.

In the film, Hayes plays Vicaria, a girl who sets out on a tough journey to try to find a way to bring her brother back to life after he is viciously killed.

In an interview with 1883 Magazine (linked above), Hayes revealed how she found out that she was nominated for a NAACP award from The Equalizer showrunner Debra Martin Chase while she "was taking a shower:"

"It was just so surreal. The way that I found that I’ve been nominated for things is so funny. For the NAACP Image Awards nominations, I was taking a shower when I found out and I got a text from our showrunner or our executive producer of 'The Equalizer,' Miss Debra Martin Chase – shout out to her! But yeah, we were in a group chat with the rest of the cast and she was like ‘Congratulations to Queen Latifah and Laya on their NAACP nominations!'"

Laya Won a BAFTA for Her God of War Role

As mentioned above, Hayes' resume of roles also extends into the video game medium.

However, it is important to mention that she has not only starred in video games but has won a BAFTA award for her role in one of the most successful and well-reviewed games of all time, God of War: Ragnarok.

In God of War: Ragnarok, Hayes voices Angroboda, a character that Atreus/Loki first meets in Ironwood. 

The two get to know each other there and Angroboda then goes on to become an important character in the rest of the game as Atreus and Kratos go up against Odin, Thor, and the powers of Asgard.

Hayes was nominated and then won the BAFTA award for Performer in a Supporting Role at the BAFTA Game Awards 2022 for her work in God of War: Ragnarok.

In the same interview from above with 1883 Magazine, Hayes explained the excitement of being in God of War, but also the challenges it brought on:

"It was nerve-wracking specifically for 'God of War' because I don’t think there is I mean, I might be wrong. I’m trying to think before I say it, but I know for sure I was the only black girl who was a part of that cast and has been a part of that franchise. And I remember seeing the original picture printout of the character and I was like, this is so amazing."

The actress also talked about the "overwhelming amount of love" she received when it was announced that she would be in the game, but also the "hate" she unfortunately had to endure as well:

"But even when it was announced, like what everybody was going to look like and people were getting they’re seeing their first reactions to it, especially on Twitter, it was such an overwhelming, overwhelming amount of love. But also with that where it was a lot of hate to end it really, if anything just opened my eyes to once again how difficult it is to be a young black actor or black actor, period, and to try and break into a world that’s kind of been untouched by us."

Where Can Fans Follow Laya DeLeon Hayes on Social Media?

For fans who want to follow Laya DeLeon Hayes' career and her life behind the scenes, the actress can be found on Instagram under the username @layadeleonhayes and on X (formerly Twitter) @layahayes.

New episodes of The Equalizer are released every Sunday on CBS.

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- About The Author: Nathan Johnson
Nathan is a writer at The Direct where he covers Star Wars, the MCU, and DC news. He joined The Direct in April 2021 and currently writes news and feature articles about all three brands mentioned above, but his main specialty is his knowledge about anything and everything Star Wars.