It takes one of two things to make one a memorable character in any given film or TV show: either you are good or bad. For Ainsley Hayes, the Republican Associate White House Counsel in the NBC political drama, West Wing, even though she appeared in not more than 12 episodes, she remains among the series’ most memorable and loved characters.
Often referred to as a “blonde Republican sex kitten,” Hayes served as the Associate White House Counsel and later, as the Deputy White House Counsel. As a Republican, Hayes often held personal positions that were at odds with those of the Bartlet White House. She was formerly a law clerk for the Supreme Court Justice Dreifort and usually wrote op-eds against the Bartlet Administration. Interestingly, the same administration was the one that hired her as a White House Counsel following her hot debate with Sam.
Who Is Ainsley Hayes?
Ainsley Hayes is a fictional character played by Emily Procter. She first appeared in the series during the second season, in 2000 through 2003, and then in 2006, she continued in her recurring role.
Ainsley, just like Procter, was raised in North Carolina where her father was a member of the Republican Party. She was a third-generation Republican as her grandfather was also the State Chair of the North Carolina Republican Party. She never mentioned her mother on the show. Hayes graduated from the Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts and then from Harvard Law School. Besides being a life-long member of the Republican Party, the Southerner was also Episcopalian, as well as a member of the Federalist Society.
Following her studies and before taking up a position in the White House, Ainsley Hayes clerked for Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ronald Dreifort. She also wrote and published a number of columns critical of the Bartlet Administration and the Democratic Party. Ironically, she came to President Bartlet’s attention after an appearance on live television, Capital Beat, opposite Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe). She so trounced Sam that the rest of the Senior Staff made fun of him.
Interestingly, her merciless defeat of Sam made a way for her to join the administration. Calling her “smart,” the President asked Leo to hire her. Hayes submitted her resume in hopes of becoming full White House Counsel. Ainsley Hayes started as Associate White House Counsel and advised senior White House staff on a number of occasions. She also provided a counter-argument on issues from across the aisle – while providing a number of unforgettable food-related quotes such as “can I take this muffin?” along the way. Of course, she likes food and has a sweet tooth, especially for muffins and Fresca which she easily substitutes with ale. She was eventually promoted to Deputy White House Counsel.
What Really Happened To Ainsley Hayes On West Wing Actress?
After the third season of the show, when we have fallen in love with the smart-mouthed sass, Southern charm Counsel, she stopped appearing in the series. As we begin to think of possible reasons and question why that was so, one of the reasons that came to mind was that the writers may not have needed the character for any of the plots thus, writing her off. While that could be true, it was discovered that she has taken a role somewhere else, thus, her unavailability.
Ainsley Hayes was cast as a recurring character in the NBC series. She appeared in the second and third seasons of the show, only when she was written into the scripts. Emily later left the show, and during the fourth season, was seen on CSI: Miami, making it unlikely that her character would appear much (if at all) on West Wing.
While it seems writing Ainsley Hayes out of the show was the right decision at the time, the series creator Aaron Sorkin revealed that not upping her to a regular cast member and letting the police procedural show snap her up was his biggest regret. On her part, Procter loved the show and didn’t want to go. She would have stayed on it forever if she ever got a hint that upping her game was a possibility. However, it turned out that the duo might have misunderstood each other.
Hayes later appeared in the seventh season of West Wing, in 2006.