Madeline Brewer has a type, and I’m not referring to her dating proclivities. Take a look at her acting résumé and you’ll see a common theme: women—women-led stories and women-led crews. Brewer has been part of some pretty fantastic female ensembles in her career, and when I ask if this is an intentional move or simply a lucky circumstance, she confirms it’s both. Luck may have played a part when she landed her breakout role in the award-winning Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, but surrounding herself with some of the most talented women in the industry—see also The Handmaid’s Tale (another award season juggernaut) and this month’s Hustlers—is not just a smart business move. It’s a project-picking philosophy we can get behind.
Brewer is a girl’s girl through and through, so there’s no one better to spend an afternoon sipping tea and playing dress-up with. It might not be time to break out the layers just yet, but this season’s offering of luxurious outerwear is seriously tempting, which is why we enlisted Brewer to test-drive some of our favorite styles. From unexpected silhouettes to head-turning prints, these coats, like Brewer, are primed for their close-up.
We shot some of the season’s coolest coats for our shoot. What are your outerwear essentials come fall?
I am either in warm Los Angeles or freezing cold Toronto, so I’m typically either wearing a long-sleeve shirt or full gown coat. But that being said, I did see some really gorgeous coats during our shoot, so that was nice. I like blazers, like a good wool blazer. Khaite has some gorgeous blazers I love. I wear a lot of my boyfriend’s coats. I like a good bomber jacket, and I love a cozy cable-knit. Oh, and I’m obsessed with wool sweaters. Truly, like a big, comfy high-turtleneck wool sweater is the only thing that brings me peace in the winter months. That’s my vibe.
We’re so excited for Hustlers! Do you remember the moment you thought I have to be a part of this project?
It was right after I talked to Lorene Scafaria, the director. We talked on the phone about a couple of different roles and about this whole world and the time period and the kind of story she was trying to tell. I was like I have to be a part of this; this sounds so incredible. No hate on any of the remakes that are coming out and all of the Marvel big-budget stuff, but this is a fully original thing. This is a real thing that happened and then was adapted into an original movie. It’s produced by women, starring women, directed by a woman, written by a woman, based on a story by a woman. It’s all the stuff that I love.
Can you tell us a little about your character, Dawn?
Dawn is just a blast and a half. First of all, I’m with Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu, whose characters are both impeccably dressed, hair and makeup done. They have on mink and chinchilla coats, and then Dawn has a knock-off purse, ratty faux fur, and clumpy mascara, just looking very ridiculous. I play a lot of heavier, very dramatic and emotional roles, and Lorene gave me the opportunity to play something that was really fun and to improvise and just kind of roll with it.
The cast is no joke. What stood out to you most while working with these amazing women?
I mostly interacted with Jen and Constance, so I was nervous out of my mind. The very first scene that I filmed—because there really was no easing into it—the first scene, the day I meet them, is a scene where I’m on a ton of drugs and I’m wearing a wire and talking to the police. I was incredibly nervous and twitchy, but it actually worked because I was so nervous to the point that I was literally shaking. I think eventually Jennifer was like, “Okay, we need to do something,” and she just grabbed my hand and said, “You are doing amazing. It’s all good, you totally got this down, don’t worry about it,” and she just calmed me down. I was just coming off doing Handmaid’s, so I was in that whole world, and this was the complete opposite. It could not be more different. It was a total whirlwind, but it was really nice to have both of them be so supportive.
You have been part of some really incredible female ensembles. Is this something you look for when picking projects?
It’s incredibly important to me. Honestly, I just got really lucky. With Orange Is the New Black, like any other actor, I went to an audition and was so nervous, and for some reason, Jenji Kohan thought I looked like I could do it. They cast me, and that was my introduction to working on camera. I was surrounded by women—women writers, women producers, women directors, a female boom operator, a female DP, just all this incredible stuff. When I went away from that and did stuff starring men and led by men and produced by men, it just wasn’t as supportive and artistically fulfilling. Not that it can’t be. I’ve been in situations where it’s been incredibly artistically fulfilling, but it’s best when the men in power listen to women writing stories about women. It’s the stuff that attracts me. I am a woman. I am a girl’s girl. I am an artist, and being around other women who are artists is like finding your soul mate. It’s so incredible, so rewarding, and so inspiring. It’s really easy to get worn out in this industry; there is a lot of noise. If you are not working with people who inspire you, you will get burnt out so quickly. So that’s the stuff I look for because it’s what keeps me coming back.
Season three of The Handmaid’s Tale just ended. What do you hope to see going into the next chapter?
I’m very interested in Janine’s backstory; I’d really love to see it. I want to see the resistance. I want to see more of Rita because I always want to see more of Rita. When she kisses the ground in Canada, I lost my ability to function as a human. But I do want to see Janine’s backstory. In season three, we find out Janine’s last name is Lindo, and I was a mess for days. Just knowing her last name… It’s another piece of her. I feel like I’m always uncovering pieces of her as the seasons go on, and learning more about her is the gift that keeps on giving. I just want to learn more. She is a really special girl.
You are working with stylist Emma Jade Morrison, who is the model whisperer. What do you like about her eye for fashion?
I mean, she worked at Vogue for like six years, she’s a Brooklynite, she’s young, she’s a hustler, she’s hungry. I’m not going to be like, Oh, she’s a modern woman, but she knows what she wants, she goes for it, and she’s just smart as hell. I admire her so much. I can say the most obscure, weird, roundabout reference of what I want to look like, and she’s like “Yep, totally get it, got the vibe, let’s get it done.” It’s a little bit like she knows what I’m saying without me having to say it. But she also takes an interest in getting the look and the feel and the vibe that I want and that I’m comfortable with without being like, “Oh, look what a great stylist I am.” Or she’ll say, “Listen, I know you might not be 100% comfortable with this, but I want you to trust me,” and every time I’ve trusted her it’s been the right thing. She’s been Emily Ratajkowski’s stylist for a long time, and the first dress she put me in was this Proenza Schouler dress that had a bare midriff so my abdominal area was showing. I was like, “Listen, we all don’t have the abs of EmRata,” and she was like, “Trust me, you are going to look amazing. Nobody has the abs of EmRata; that is just how she is.” She doesn’t let all of my bullshit get in the way, because fashion can also be a very insecure thing where you think, Oh no, I can’t pull that off. I couldn’t do that. And she’ll say, “Yes, you absolutely can. Look at yourself—you look amazing.” Style stuff aside, as a human being, she is just a great person to have in your life.
You’ve been wearing some really cool designers like Khaite, Monse, and Jacquemus for recent press appearances. Is that Emma, you, or both of you?
It’s totally what works for us and what works for the event. I mean she absolutely introduced me to Monse. Jacquemus to me was the little purse designer, but she’s definitely given me a lot more of a critical eye for what I think looks good and works, and she has opened me up to a lot more.
What has been your favorite look you’ve worn for a red carpet so far?
I mean I really really loved that Proenza Schouler dress.
Let’s talk about your off-duty style. What are the staples in your wardrobe?
Honestly, I love my Levi’s. I think they are 501s and I cut the button off them. I’m not going to say that I’m a sneakerhead, because I’m not, but all I wear are sneakers.
Do you have a favorite sneaker brand?
I have three pairs of Adidas that I love, and I love Vans. I have these Pyer Moss for Reebok kicks that are truly… Hearing Kerby Jean-Raymond’s story about the stuff he is designing and why he is designing it and that the line is named after his father, it’s just so moving. He is, to me, the best part of fashion. People think of fashion as this upper-echelon elitist world, and it’s totally not. Kerby totally embodies that to me. He’s like, “Here’s the email if you want to get on the list for my third collection runway show. Just email me and I’ll put you on the list.” He put that on his Twitter! That to me is so accessible, and that’s what it should be because fashion is not just for one kind of person. It’s self-expression, it’s wearable art, and to me, Kerby embodies that with Pyer Moss. So I bought his shoes even though I am not good at wearing them. I don’t know what to wear them with, but I just want to rock them.
Opening Image Fashion Credits: Christopher Esber dress; Magda Butrym Lychee Earrings ($298)