Madison Bailey on Outrageous Fans and Life With 7 Million Followers

Clothing and Accessories (worn throughout) Coach.

Madison Bailey sits in her bedroom on a dreary day in L.A. She’s waiting for our editor-in-chief to join a Zoom call so she can plug the new season of her hit show, Outer Banks. Mel Ottenberg hasn’t seen a single episode but he wants the gossip, and the 23-year-old actor is happy to oblige.


MEL OTTENBERG: What’s up, Madison? Sorry I’m late.


OTTENBERG: How about this weather? I saw my first L.A. mudslide today and I’ve spent a lot of time here, but the mud’s a thing.

BAILEY: Oh my gosh. I’m avoiding leaving my house. I’m from North Carolina. I’m not scared of the rain, I’m just scared of how people will take the rain here. [Laughs]

OTTENBERG: You grew up in North Carolina? What’s that like?

BAILEY: Small town, a lot of grass, a lot of cows. 

OTTENBERG: Cool. How did you get discovered, so to speak? 

BAILEY: I’ve been working since I was 15. I was based in North Carolina and working the East Coast circuit through Atlanta, and smaller projects in North Carolina or Tennessee. Nothing really blew up until I moved to L.A. and then I ended up back on the East Coast filming a show about North Carolina. [Laughs]

OTTENBERG: So crazy.

BAILEY: Funny how life works.

OTTENBERG: Okay, so Outer Banks is one of the biggest shows on Netflix and the reason my team was like, “You need do this interview,” is that I’ve never seen an episode. I’m grandpa. Do you think I’d like it? 

BAILEY: I think you would. It has a little bit for everyone. Especially our more recent seasons, it’s matured a lot. In season three it’s not just that the adults have more screen time, but the storyline is taking a more historical route. It’s less of a treasure hunt and more about the depths of where the treasure came from.

OTTENBERG: What’s your character’s name?

BAILEY: Kiara.

OTTENBERG: Are you like Kiara?

BAILEY: In certain ways. When I was 16 I had that rebellious free spirit. I’m a little more tame now as an adult.

OTTENBERG: Do you have any Outer Banks gossip that will make the fans go nuts when they read this? 

BAILEY: Gossip? [Laughs] I don’t know what to tell you.

OTTENBERG: Okay that’s fine. What’s the vibe on the Outer Banks group chat these days?

BAILEY: We’re gearing up for press. I’m, like, about to be back and forth with Maddie [Madelyn Cline, who plays Sarah Cameron on Outer Banks] about what she’s wearing to these junkets and how many outfit changes she’s doing because I would love some coordination. I’m like, “Am I dramatic if I do two or three changes during a press day?” I doubt it.

OTTENBERG: If one is extra, the other should be extra and vice-versa. 

BAILEY: One thing is for sure. Everyone’s going to bring it.

OTTENBERG: What are some of the most outrageous things fans say to you on the street?

BAILEY: Anytime someone brings up anything about my character they didn’t like, I’m like, “I say the lines on the page. It’s part of my job.” Not every character I’m going to play is going to be a good guy or a bad guy. Mostly, people just ask for my opinion on all the other characters.

OTTENBERG: We had Madelyn Cline in our last issue. What’s the vibe with her? Are you guys friends IRL?

BAILEY: Of course. We had the time to actually be on-screen together this season, so we got a little closer. 

OTTENBERG: I love it. Okay. It’s January 10th today. Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?

BAILEY: Sort of. I have intentions for the year of improving my health physically and mentally. But actual resolutions—I wrote down that I need to return the things that don’t fit. I’m an online shopper and I’m horrible at making returns. So I’m like, if I’m going to keep shopping, I have to start returning things because they’re piling up—things with tags on them that I could never fit in.

OTTENBERG: As you’re saying that, I’m seeing things in my closet—a navy sweater, a green sweater, a black suit, a gray suit, and it’s killing me. It breaks my heart.

BAILEY: Yes, it’s heartbreaking.

OTTENBERG: I feel you. Alright, you’re the face of Fenty Beauty and Fenty Skin. Have you ever met Rihanna? I styled her for seven years.

BAILEY: So really what I’m hearing, because my answer is “no” to this, is that you’re my connect. It’s not through Fenty, it’s through you?

OTTENBERG: I mean, we’re friends. I did the yellow omelet. I did the naked dress. I did the pope—

BAILEY: The Swarovski? That’s a big one.

OTTENBERG: Yeah. The Adam Selman. It goes way back. Listen, I’ll see what I can do. I know she looks at Interview. You were also featured in a Skims campaign. Have you met Kim? 

BAILEY: I haven’t. But I had a good time.

OTTENBERG: Well, whatever. These women have good taste and they know what’s up. 

BAILEY: [Laughs] 

OTTENBERG: They like me. They love you. What more can we say? 

BAILEY: Period.

OTTENBERG: Okay, I want the real answer to this question. What are the best and worst things about having 6.9 million IG followers, Madison?

BAILEY: The best part is I feel like I can interact with people at any moment. The other day I got on Live just to talk to people and let them get to know me more. I plan on being solely an actress and I feel like that’s my platform for people to get to know who I am in my private life. I don’t mind getting personal. I’m an open book 90 percent of the time. I’d say the worst part about the following is the other 10 percent of that time, when I want privacy. It brings me a lot of anxiety at random times.

OTTENBERG: Do you sometimes wake up in the middle of the night being like, “Was I being too much?” Or, “Wait, was that the wrong thing to post?” Because I do that.

BAILEY: Yeah. I have a personality disorder. I’ll be like 100 percent behind something, like, “I’m posting this, it’s going to be great.” And then that night I’m like, “Um.” I’ll run it by my friends or sometimes—okay, gossip. I have a finsta. So I’ll post something on my finsta and I’ll ask my friends, like, “Is this too much for the main?”

OTTENBERG: I have a finsta as well. I don’t ask. I just put it on to see how it goes. Sometimes they’ll be like, “You got to go main.” And I’m like, “Alright, I’ll go main.”

BAILEY: I’ve definitely heard no. I’m like, “Main page?” And my friends are like, “Honestly, they’re not ready.”

OTTENBERG: Exactly. Alright. You came out as pansexual in 2020 and introduced the world to your girlfriend. Why did you decide to share your personal life with the world at that moment? 

BAILEY: It wasn’t a huge decision. It wasn’t really like me coming out to everybody. It was more like, “I just got here and I’m coming out with everything about myself to everybody.” It’s a huge part of who I am so it wasn’t even a thought. It was nothing I would’ve ever kept a secret. You couldn’t know me and not know that.

OTTENBERG: She’s here, she’s pan. That’s what’s up.

BAILEY: Love it or hate it.

OTTENBERG: So how are things now? What’s next?

BAILEY: We are finally celebrating this show. COVID was season one and two so this is our first premiere. I’m interested to see who’s going to show out. 

OTTENBERG: When was the first season released?

BAILEY: April of 2020. So just a month short of having a big party and premiere. [Laughs] When COVID first happened, it was such a distortion of reality for a lot of people. So for my world to be changing so drastically at the same time, it kind of messed with my perspective. The events are a part of it and I’m excited that we have that this season.

OTTENBERG: This one’s going to make up for lost time, I’m sure.

BAILEY: Oh yeah.

OTTENBERG: Can’t wait to see your fit, your glam, your whole thing. And thanks for being in Interview magazine, we appreciate it.

BAILEY: Of course. Happy to be a part of it, truly.

OTTENBERG: Alright, well good luck. I hope to meet you soon and have a good day.

BAILEY: Yes. Thank you. Have a good one.

OTTENBERG: Bye, babe.


Hair: Amber Duarte using Kenra Professional
Makeup: Ciara Maccaro using Fenty Beauty at Exclusive Artists Management
Photography Assistant: Brandon Sheffield
Fashion Assistant: Colton Pappas