Haley Strode has always dreamed of something more. Born and raised on her family’s 4th generation farm in Stanley, Ky., a small town of less than 1,000 people, this creative young girl knew there had to be something bigger out there for her.
“You had to use your imagination,” Strode said of life in the small Southern town. “As a little girl, I loved reinventing myself and creating these scenarios and characters, I think that’s how I knew I wanted to become an actor– I spent most of my life pretending!”
Strode went on to explain that this “pretending” was her unbounded imagination giving her a much needed creative outlet in a place that didn’t have all to much to satisfy her fervor for something more. It is no surprise that Strode went on to study Theater Arts at the University of Mississippi where she later graduated with a B.F.A.
Strode took her life to Los Angeles where she gained momentum with her career in film, theater and television. She was even noted by Backstage Magazine as being “perky perfection” in the Katselas Theatre Company’s production of the comedy, Le Ronde de Lunch.
Currently, Strode plays Jane Conrad in the hit ABC series, Astronaut Wives Club, which is based on Lily Koppel’s book of the same name. Astronaut Wives Club is a period drama that tells the story of the wives of the Mercury Seven, America’s first group of astronauts.
“It’s a big honor and a big job,” Strode started, “It’s something that you have to approach with extreme care. You are portraying someone who actually existed, who, many are still alive, so you want to get it all right.”
Strode prepared for her role by learning about Jane Conrad through Koppel’s book and from speaking to Koppel directly about Jane Conrad as she knew her very well.
“She was attracted to Pete (Jane’s husband) initially because even though he was from Princeton, he was this Ivy League guy, he had this wild side,” Strode explained about Jane Conrad. “From what I understand, Pete was very much like Jane’s father, almost like a renegade cowboy.”
“She was a very good friend, a very devoted wife and a very strong woman, especially for that time period,” Strode said of Jane Conrad’s character.
Learning everything about Jane Conrad wasn’t all she had to do for the role. Strode also had to look the part; that included chopping most of her hair off.
“They asked if I wanted a wig and I said ‘no!’” Strode explained on her transformation for the role. “It really helped me with the character. Just to look in the mirror and see that transformation, that in itself was so powerful.”
Getting into costume was also a big help and Strode explained that the retro pieces the cast would wear were nothing short of amazing, especially the swimsuits and gowns.
She explained that working with the talented cast of women in Astronaut Wives Club has been such an honor and inspiration. When asked who she would love to work with in the future, her answer: Diane Keaton.
“I find her just fascinating,” Strode continued. “ I find her, her work, her laugh, the joy that she brings to every part so magnetic. She reminds me that it is so important for actor’s to have this inner light, something that is real”
You can find Strode in a new short film called, The Full Moon Club to be released at upcoming film festivals.
Keep an eye on Haley Strode; the big imagination of the small town girl has launched.