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"I think because we have so many intimate scenes together and also some hard ones as well that we have been able to kind of create a bond as we've been able to film," Hayes tells PEOPLE. "There are things that I've just picked up and seen. Every time that I do a scene with her, I'm learning and soaking everything up. I think one of those things has definitely been having your own opinions on set."
The 16-year-old adds, "If it doesn't feel right for the character, if she doesn't think it feels right coming out of her mouth to say something in the lines, she will change it."
Hayes notes that Latifah, 51, is also "open to hearing everybody's input to make the show and the character the best that it can be."
"Filming with her, it's been great. I think in the beginning I was very nervous, but she made it so easy," she continues. "From the beginning when we were gonna shoot the pilot, she wanted to get my input and connect with me and ask me questions like, 'What music do you think we would listen to?' Or, 'Do you have a handshake that you think Delilah and Robin would do?' I think that kind of just broke the wall and broke the ice for me to feel more comfortable on set."
Hayes, who won an NAACP Award in March for voice-over work on Disney Junior's Doc McStuffins, plays Delilah on The Equalizer opposite Latifah's character Robyn McCall. The CBS hit, which is a reboot of the original Edward Woodward series from the 1980s, follows single mom Robyn as she uses her former CIA background to help those in need.
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Describing her character Delilah, Hayes says that she is "more laid back" compared to the "fiery" teen.
"Delilah's going through a point in her life that's very awkward and she's trying to figure out her place and balance her relationship with her mom and her friends and her Aunt Vi (played by Lorraine Toussaint)," she says. "I think any person who's gone through teenage years and all the crazy things that happen during your teenage years can relate to that — that feeling of wanting independence, but also knowing that this is a time when you're gonna need your mom most."
The Equalizer premiered in February and was renewed for a second season in early March. Thinking about what's next for her character in season 2, Hayes wants fans to see more of her character's "compassionate" side.
"I hope we can dive in a bit more into maybe her more activist side or her passion for making a change," she concludes.
The Equalizer airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.