Billy Hayes has been writing, speaking, acting, and directing since the book he wrote about his experience in a Turkish prison, Midnight Express, was made into an Academy Award-winning film in 1978. Other books include the sequel, Midnight Return, and an annotated collection of the raw source material of Midnight Express in his original words, The Midnight Express Letters: From a Turkish Prison 1970-1975.
Hayes has acted extensively in film, theater, and television, and was honored with a Best Actor Award (L.A. Weekly) for his 2006 performance in a tribute to Samuel Beckett, Shuffle, Shuffle, Step…
After directing the critically acclaimed and award-winning Cock & Bull Story at the Fountainhead Theatre in Los Angeles, Hayes went on to direct a feature film version starring Brian Austin Green, garnering attention at film festivals around the world. Other directing credits include the award-winning William Inge play, The Last Pad, produced by Amnesty International in Los Angeles; The Cage at New York City’s Neighborhood Group Theater; and the Los Angeles Production of the Year (L.A. Weekly), Washington Square Moves, and for which the NAACP honored Hayes with a Best Director nomination. He directed episodes of the TV series Copper, produced and directed the documentary Angel Food, and developed and co-produced The Bachelor’s Baby, a CBS movie of the week starring Scott Bakula. Hayes is a member of the Actors’ Studio West Playwright/Director Unit.
Hayes worked as an artist member of Inside Out, using theater skills therapeutically with both at-risk youth and disturbed, incarcerated patients in a hospital setting. He has also shared the lessons of his life experience mentoring homeless youths at the L.A. Free Clinic, and in extensive speaking engagements at universities across North America.
In 2010 the National Geographic series Locked Up Abroad gave Hayes a chance to retell his story to a new worldwide audience. He is now preparing a one-man show, Riding the Midnight Express, for the New York stage, and will be in London in April for the ballet Midnight Express. Hayes lives with his wife, Wendy, in Los Angeles.