Entertainment TV 'The Equalizer' 's Laya DeLeon Hayes Reveals How Her and Queen Latifah's Bond Has Grown in Season 2 "It's been wonderful to be able to actually bond and really get to know one another," Laya DeLeon Hayes tells PEOPLE exclusively By Dory Jackson Dory Jackson Instagram Twitter Website Dory Jackson is an Associate Editor for PEOPLE's digital TV team. While at the brand, she's had the opportunity to interview a long list of celebrities, from Kate Hudson to Pierce Brosnan to Billy Porter. She also recaps popular TV shows like The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Vanderpump Rules.The New York-based Maryland native graduated from Randolph-Macon College in May 2016 with a focus in Communication Studies and Journalism. She came to PEOPLE in March 2021 after working at a number of major news companies, including Newsweek and Us Weekly. She also previously co-hosted a podcast called "Idol Nation." People Editorial Guidelines Published on October 24, 2021 09:32 AM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Barbara Nitke/CBS For rising actress Laya DeLeon Hayes, starring on The Equalizer is a dream opportunity for many reasons. The 17-year-old — who has built her acting résumé with an abundance of onscreen appearances, including Raven's Home and Doc McStuffins — currently stars on the CBS hit as Delilah. Hayes' rebellious teen character is the onscreen daughter of Queen Latifah's Robyn McCall. Hayes and Latifah, 51, recently worked together on The Equalizer's second season, which premiered Oct. 10. Now, Hayes tells PEOPLE exclusively how working on the show's sophomore run has allowed her to grow closer to her TV mom. "It's easier just getting to know one another in season two, but she really is the coolest," says Hayes. "It was immediate in season one. It was really easy when we were about to shoot the pilot, you know, I think from day one. She's really wanted to make it a collaborative effort for Robyn and Delilah and take a lot of my own experiences with me and my mom and add them into the scenery, so they can become Robyn and Delilah's thing as well." The Equalizer's Laya DeLeon Hayes Calls TV Mom Queen Latifah a Mentor: We Got to 'Create a Bond' "I think it's been wonderful to be able to actually bond and really get to know one another this season," she continues. "That's just because we can safely do that." When going out for the series early last year, Hayes — who went through four auditions before booking the role — gravitated toward the project further upon learning of Latifah's involvement (Latifah is also an executive producer on The Equalizer). "I was like, 'Oh, my gosh. I want to work with Queen Latifah,'" she says. "Because who doesn't, right?" ESBP/Star Max/GC Images Hayes has already gotten "some wonderful advice" from Latifah as well as fellow costar Lorraine Toussaint, who plays Robyn's aunt. "I'll tell you one thing, while we were filming season two, one piece of advice they gave me was not to eat the food while doing a scene with food," she recalls. "And I was like, 'All right, I'm not going to do that again.' " Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. "When you do a bunch of takes and you're eating food in a scene, you're going to have to get it from all different angles," she continues. "So you're going to be eating, like, the same piece of food, and it has to be the exact same one at the exact same time for the next three hours." Even though Hayes is still young, she has already learned a lot along her journey. As for the biggest lesson so far, the actress says: "To keep going." getty "If you stay in the saddle, like, you will make it. You will get your opportunity. And that's just come from me doing a lot of auditions and just going through the audition process and being like, 'When is my time coming? I want it now. I want it now,'" she explains. "And even really with The Equalizer, when I was going through that audition process, I was having that mentality of like, 'I want it. I want it now.' And I just kept going, and that's when the most amazing things happen for me." Hayes has some big dreams she's hoping to accomplish down the road. She'd love to work with fellow actors Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Angela Bassett, and Saoirse Ronan, as well as filmmakers Wes Anderson and Barry Jenkins. She also has future aspirations behind the camera, including trying her hand at screenwriting and directing. Additionally, there is one role, in particular, Hayes tells PEOPLE she desires to land someday: "I'd love to play the first Black Wonder Woman. I think that'd be really fun!" The Equalizer airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.