Outer Banks’ Madison Bailey Unapologetically Speaks Her Truth
This rising star knows who she is… do you? Find out in this V Exclusive.
Actress Madison Bailey turned heads throughout the entertainment industry after giving the performance of a lifetime in the Netflix top 10 charter, Outer Banks. With over 3 million Instagram followers, the star landed a spot on Variety’s Power of Young Hollywood List of 2020, alongside some of her co-stars for her role as Kiara Carrera on the hit show. And shortly after, Madison had fun sending fans on a social media treasure hunt to discover — that the anticipated Season 2 of Outer Banks is well underway.
“I don’t know, with COVID and everything, how possible it will be to shoot in the Bahamas,” Bailey tells V, in reference to last season’s finale. Alluding to the fact she wants her character to have a cameo in the tropical island, she continues, “I know at the end of Season 1, my character is still in the Outer Banks. However, if they [the Pogues] go, I’m going, no matter what.”
The 21-year-old who exudes tenacity through her commitment to career growth finds herself riding the wave of uncertainty, as the news of 2020 came crashing down. Madison is in the same boat as many other 20-something young professionals starting to gain momentum but then abruptly stalled because of COVID-19. Despite the many uncertainties that present themselves currently, Madison Bailey has taken this time to unequivocally claim truth in who she is.
With joy, Madison will be able to return to both the job she loves and cast members that have become family. But, the lack of normalcy has the actress questioning: What production of Outer Banks will look like during a pandemic? These are the uncharted waters Bailey now finds herself wading in.
Several ideas float around Madison’s head in regards to where Kiara’s character arc could go, yet she’s hoping for one in particular. “I hope we get to see a little bit more of why Kiara resonates so hard with the Pogues.” As we know, Kiara grew up as a privileged Kook but prefers to be identified alongside her friends as the opposite, a Pogue. Because of this, Madison often wonders: What does Kie’s home life look like?
She calls attention to the fact that it largely remains an unanswered question in comparison to the other characters. Noticeably, viewers were able to sympathize with JJ by watching the abusive relationship with his dad, the show accurately portrayed father-son duo Pope and Heyward, and John B’s father’s presence is still felt, or lack thereof. However, when we analyze Madison’s character, it seems like her background story hasn’t been fully shared yet. As a lead in the show, she is hoping Season 2 could “Shed more light on [Kiara’s] upbringing.”
In stark contrast, Madison Bailey’s private information overflows the internet. After the show became a global sensation, she welcomed the glitz of Hollywood and a glamorous lifestyle with open arms. Even so, the OBX actress remains true to herself and humble family origins. She explained, “I feel like a lot of who I am, comes from my family, from living on the East coast, and from growing up in a small town.” Bailey was born and raised in Kernersville, North Carolina, thousands of miles away from the Los Angeles apartment she now resides in. “I’m a homebody for sure. I moved out to LA, but I miss my family a lot,” she said. The native east-coaster was in shock when she realized, “I actually haven’t been back to my hometown since it [the hit-series] came out.”
The homesick starlet paints the picture of her big family tree for us to follow along, “My parents are angels. They had one kid after trying multiple times, fostered dozens of kids, and then adopted six.” As the baby of the family, she clarified, “There are three boys and four girls. As pretty evenly as you could split seven.”
Madison reflects on how the relationship with her older brothers and sisters has, in some ways, matured during the pandemic. COVID-19 continues to disproportionately impact people of color and has exacerbated racial disparities, systematic racism, and magnified the inequalities in our society. As a Black woman in a predominately white household, she noticed a paradigm shift in family discussions during the ongoing protests, the Black Lives Matter movement and calls for police reform. None of this information is foreign to Bailey. She reiterates, “It’s not news to me. It’s not catching me off guard. I’ve seen this with my friends and in my own life. With being adopted, a lot of my family is White. A lot of my siblings are White and have reached out to me.” Sharing with honesty, she continues, “I’ve had conversations with my siblings about things they’d never really thought about, even though I had expressed them in the past.”
Social media is the bullhorn for her voice. Captioning one of her photos as an oath of sorts, the Netflix actress declared, “Healing others through your hurt. I promise to be vulnerable. Publicly imperfect. No one’s getting anywhere by pretending shit is peachy keen 24/7.” Abiding by those words, Madison opened up the platform to speak honestly about her Borderline Personality Disorder diagnosis and the stigmas associated with mental health. Bailey expressed, “I think BPD is such a complicated disorder because there are 1 million and 3 parts to it.” On top of all those moving parts, BPD and for example, Bipolar Disorder, has been inaccurately portrayed in mainstream media for decades.
Feeling misrepresented, Bailey notes, “I think that BPD, as well as Bipolar Disorder, are two disorders that are often shrugged off and not taken as seriously.” She took to Twitter to voice these concerns, “I hate that people use Bipolar as an excuse any time you’re feeling any kind of feeling. Someone’s always like, ‘Uh they’re Bipolar.’” She speaks from her own experiences — with many followers in agreement — but acknowledges she’s no mental health expert either. She emphasizes there are far more suitable words to accurately describe one’s feelings versus using the diagnosis as a casual expression. Hoping to direct her diverse fanbase to a more inclusive mindset, she offers, “If you’re not struggling with [BPD or Bipolar Disorder] just listen. Listen to the people who do have it.” Adding, “And the people who do have it, you are not alone in any way. You’re doing great.”
While spreading love, Madison also found love in a way that truly encapsulates 2020 — virtually — and journalists were quick to cover the actress’s budding TikTok romance after she met her significant other in an endearing way on the platform. Feeling relieved to share her love life with transparency, she introduced her girlfriend, Mariah Linney to the world. However, the media was more focused on the “new” public fact about her pansexuality rather than her relationship, publishing sensationalized headlines as her coming out story for clickbait. Debunking those media outlets Madison clearly stated, “I’ve been out since 2017. I know a lot of people took this whole platform as me coming out, but it was never a secret since I’ve known. It just became information since I became public information.”
Amidst all that is unresolved in the world, in her future, and in Outer Banks, Madison continues to push the boundaries of conventionality. Making us think back to the extremely unconventional cliffhanger Outer Banks left us on, where Kiara wound up in a catch-22 of sorts. After deciding to help her falsely-accused best friend, John B escape to go after the gold that slipped away to the Bahamas in the middle of a tropical storm, her character is now left with the unbearable ramifications of uncertainty. To her and the rest of the search team, it seemed as though John B and Sarah didn’t make it — but unbeknownst to them, that’s certainly not the case.
Refueled in her career and ready to welcome life’s next adventure, Madison Bailey tells VMagazine, “I sense myself having so much longevity in this industry right now. I love Outer Banks, I really do, and I want to ride it out for a couple of seasons. Then, take the time to really think about what’s next.”