Interview by Joanne Haner | December 23, 2022 | Photos by Lilly K Photography
This interview has been edited for brevity & clarity.
17-year-old Orli Gottesman currently plays Halie on Paramount+’s “Yellowstone.” She took the time to chat with HAZZE Media about path to the hit show and career so far.
So you’re 17, but started getting into acting when you were 5. You’ve been doing this for over 10 years already, but what got you into acting in the first place?
Orli: It was actually my mom's idea, but I started through modeling, then I went to open calls and started booking. I started working for a bunch of European companies and Macy's and Carters and stuff, and then I got a manager. I went to an open call when I was living in Florida; I drove up to Miami with my mom and she's like, “Let's try this out.” So we did and then I was like, “okay, this is cool.” But I don't think I actually knew that I was acting at first. I was so young where I was thinking “Oh, this is like a play date” and then it started just setting in with time.
What was your first acting role?
Orli: I started through commercials. I think the first commercial I booked was a Burger King commercial.
At what point did your career pivot from commercials to longer mediums like short films and TV shows?
Orli: My whole family moved from Florida to LA, and we lived in the Valencia area, and I went to this acting camp where a pretty well-known acting coach would write short films, and, if you were enrolled in it, he would cast you as a character, and he would kind of write your storyline around you. So my name is Orli, but my character’s name was Ophelia. That was the first time I’d seen myself in a short film and something longer than a commercial, so that was super cool. And after that, we started getting approached by some directors, and that’s when I did Beast.
You currently play Halie on Yellowstone. What do you enjoy about playing this character?
Orli: She’s very similar to me in a way, and maybe that’s just my interpretation of a girl like her. I have a tendency to do that a lot with my auditions and put a lot of myself in the character. Playing with her, it was super easy to figure out her intention with everything that she was doing. But she’s a ranch girl, and she’s a cowgirl – and that’s probably one of the fun parts, is doing something so different than other things I’ve done in the past.
So you take a lot from your life, but Halie’s also different from you in a few ways, like being a ranch girl. What are some things that you take from your life and insert into the character to make it more you?
Orli: Well Halie is super bold and really confident in the way she walks, the way she talks, the way she approaches people. I’m a relatively confident person; I get it from my mom. So I’m super extroverted, and I’m always willing to try new things. Like the first time before I was working on set, I actually took some horse-riding lessons to just get an idea of what I was doing and how to act around a horse. So I learned how to saddle a horse, and that was something I could bring with me to have a sense of familiarity with the surroundings.
You’re so young, but you’ve already played quite a few roles. What’s been your favorite and why?
Orli: That’s tricky. I mean, I’ve loved everything I’ve done in the past. Every character is really different. Although a lot of them, I’m putting myself into the characters, the age gap from when I look back on each production I was doing, even though felt like consistent work, looking back I was at a different age and a different maturity and my perception of the way that it was is completely different from how it is now. Now I can really appreciate every moment. So obviously now I’m going to say Halie from Yellowstone because that’s my current state of mind.
Who is one person that inspires you?
Orli: I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, but definitely my mom. And I mean that, like 100%. Everything I do growing up, she gave me lots of freedom, but I never really took that freedom, and she would jokingly get mad because she has that trust in me, and that’s something I can take with me. I know that whenever I’m older, whatever decisions I’m going to make, my mom is going to be there.