Everything about this story is so L.A. For starters, at this very moment, Sarah Hyland is working on her “gratitudes.” We’re even having dinner at Café Gratitude, a plant-based restaurant with unironically named menu items like Thriving (broccoli soup) and Pure (Asian kale and seaweed salad).
Sarah orders both, then finishes a story about her energy healer, who, technically, is Lucy Hale’s energy healer, who Sarah started seeing last summer to rebalance her vibrational levels. At this expert’s direction, Sarah now wakes up each morning and says things like “I put myself first” and “I’m grateful to have two legs to walk on” to any vibes listening.
She knows that what she says next (and also that thing she literally just said) (and also what she just ordered) might make you think she’s “crazy-hippie-dippie,” buuut the energy healer told her that her sacral chakra is broken, so she sort of has to put her focus here.
“‘Your heart chakra, I’ve never seen so many barriers and chains around it,’” quotes Sarah. “‘Your self-love is so depleted. Your energy could be so much higher than it is right now.’”
There’s also this: As of April 8, Sarah Hyland is officially An Out-of-Work Actor. For more than a decade, she played Haley Dunphy, the wry, spacey elder daughter of Phil and Claire, on one of TV’s biggest sitcoms. It was the rare network show that became part of the zeitgeist—everyone you know has watched Modern Family at some point—making the fact that it’s over kind of a huge fucking deal.
Sarah’s not freaking out about it. Maybe because she’s kind of in denial. (“I don’t think I’m processing,” she says. “I haven’t really felt the sadness yet.”) Or maybe because complex feels tend not to bubble to the surface in this industry literally built on first impressions. Maybe there’s too much judgy-ness in the air to make it safe to open up to a stranger with a voice recorder. Maybe it’s just too sunny.
Or maybe it’s because Sarah’s character didn’t get the ending she deserved. Watch the final season, you’ll see: Haley suddenly has less screen time. It all came as a surprise and disappointment, tbh. Sarah wishes audiences could’ve seen Haley “own her badassery in the fashion world—becoming a badass stylist or brand mogul or anything like that.”
Instead, they got a new mom of twins. No offense to moms, of course: “There are so many amazing mothers who are also hard workers and excel at their jobs and kill it every day in both aspects,” Sarah explains. “That would have been a really cool thing to see, especially from someone like Haley.”
Listen, behind-the-scenes tension between cast and crew is as Hollywood as Lucy Hale’s energy healer, but Sarah’s not one to dwell on what might have been. She wasn’t a writer or producer on the show, she tells me about three times with a matter-of-fact tone, a shrug, and a bite of salad.
She’s also not really prone to the between-gigs anxiety that plagues her peers. This is just the way it is, you know? “The thing as an actor,” she says, “is it’s like, Will I have a job tomorrow? With Modern Family ending, it’s like, Oh, great. I’m never going to work again. I’m going to have to sell everything and live out of a shoebox.”
Sarah’s chill might come from the fact that she’s been there before: She and her family used to live together in a 300-square-foot New York City apartment with a bathtub in the kitchen.
Her dad “had to travel the country to do any type of regional theater to put food on the table,” she says. Today, he’s playing Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway. The Gringotts vault is full.
Staying grounded is all relative when you earned six figures per episode on your sitcom’s final season. (For the record: It’s reported that Sarah got more than $100,000 per episode. There were 18 episodes, so yeah.) Still, she likes to shop at Urban Outfitters, where she bought the red snakeskin-print button-up she’s wearing to dinner. She says she actually finds Urban’s prices too expensive sometimes—which, relatable. She’s also carrying a Dior saddle bag, which is less relatable, but buying it was a whole event. She was in Paris to film an episode of Modern Family: “I was like, I can’t go to Paris and not buy something. I never buy myself anything expensive.”
To wit, she doesn’t really think about crafting a Sarah Hyland “brand,” not even on social media, because she can’t help but be herself. “What you see is what you get,” she says, but literally, and what you see “is most likely a really annoying, loud, opinionated, brash, most-of-the-time-disgusting human creature.”
Then again, this is L.A., and this is an L.A. story, and so the heroine does glam herself up from time to time, and the heroine does have plans to beef up her IMDb and solidify her status as an industry fixture. She’s got her eye on producing. She wants to act in dramatic roles, movie musicals, period pieces. “I want to wear a corset,” she says. “I want to not be able to breathe.”
There was a time when Sarah’s health issues—kidney dysplasia, endometriosis, and a hernia—might have held her back from this booked-solid future. Or at least made her feel like she had to cover up what she’s been through. “I think a lot of people hide their struggles because they don’t want to be seen as weak.
They want to seem like everything’s perfect,” she says. But as you know by now, she’s not interested in the “highlight reel on the internet” life. She cares about the real one, even when it hurts. Or when it’s weird and completely unrealistic, like that time she found her fiancé on The Bachelorette.
No, Sarah was not a contestant on the show—she was home with her dog on the couch in her sweats like the rest of us.
And like the rest of us, she thought Wells Adams, he of season 12 fame, was cute. So she tweeted about him.
This is when the freeze-frame drops and a voice-over says: “And that’s how our love story began.”
Wells slid into her DMs, which turned into text messages, which turned into voice memos, which eventually turned into actual calls, which turned into FaceTimes and, finally, an IRL date. “It’s the most millennial thing in the entire world,” Sarah says. “I kind of want to gag at it.”
The rest of their rom-com—you know, the one where the protagonist makes eyebrow-raising moves that in real life would scare someone away—goes like this: They went on all of two dates before she had to undergo her second kidney transplant, but Wells flew from Nashville to L.A. to see her on weekends while she was in recovery, even though all her family was there. (Imagine meeting your S.O.’s parents on your third date. Imagine meeting your S.O.’s parents before they’re officially your S.O.) A month into dating, they were literally telling each other they were falling in love. (Which, yes, is exactly what happens on The Bachelorette.) (Bachelorette but make it Grey’s Anatomy.)
If you think Sarah was waiting for a rose though, lol: “I asked him when he was going to ask me to be his girlfriend,” she says. “I’m impatient.”
Things only ramped up from there. “We were talking about what kinds of weddings we wanted four days after we made things official,” she says. (Cue wedding-planning montage.) “I hate that typical cliché of ‘when you know, you know,’ but it’s so fucking true. At least it was for me.”
No couple is perfect, even the ones in a real-life rom-com. Except maybe this one? Sarah and Wells have never had a fight fight, she says on reflection, which sounds like the sort of thing some, um, women’s magazine would call a red flag. They still haven’t had a “major blowout” in their nearly three years together.
Wells is a communicator, Sarah explains, a role she’s used to playing. “This is the first time I’ve been in a relationship where I’m like, How am I the child in the relationship? I’ve always been the adult,” she says. “So it’s mostly me having to work on my shit.” That includes her temper. But to be fair, she’s on a prescription that causes mood swings. “I have to take a step back and be like, Is this actually upsetting you? Or is this, like, the medication?”
And that, it turns out, is the most L.A. thing about all this: the plot twist. Forget what you think you know about her, about young women, about young women in Hollywood—Sarah is ruthlessly self-aware. At a level that would make anyone, let alone image-obsessed La-La Land, bow down.
“There have been days when I’m either like, I’m gonna wear my tightest jeans and a fucking bra—I don’t care if I get papped because I look fucking good, or, Is there anything I own that’s looser? Because even these sweatpants are making me look fat right now.” But that last part is BS. She knows it. “I’m aware of everything I need to work on, and I know the steps to get there,” she says with pretty legit conviction. First step: “Look in the mirror and say, ‘Bitch, you got this.’”
Fashion by Cassie Anderson. Supervising producer: Abbey Adkison. Cinematographer: Janet Upadhye. Hair: Ryan Richman at Starworks Artists using Suave Professionals. Makeup: Allan Avendano at Starworks Artists using Chanel Les Beiges. Manicure: Thuy Nguyen at Starworks Artists using Essie. Props styled by Bette Adams at Mary Howard Studio. Production: Crawford Productions.
On Sarah: Chips look: Markarian dress; Roger Vivier heels; Vhernier earrings. Polaroid look: Christian Siriano dress; Jimmy Choo heels. Hat look: Galvan dress; Philip Treacy London hat. Fringe look: Markarian dress; Jimmy Choo heels; Sachin & Babi earrings. Cake look: Monique Lhuillier gown; René Caovilla heels; Vhernier earrings. Black dress look: Haney dress; Forevermark earrings. Oversize hat look: Forevermark earrings; Eric Javits hat. Headphones look: Vera Wang Bride gown; Yvan Tufenkjian earrings; Victoria Grant hat; BeatsSolo3 Wireless headphones.
You Might Also Like