Madison Bailey on OBX Season 3, Self-Care, and TikTok Beauty Trends

In 2020, an unsuspecting show about a group of friends who embark on a legendary treasure hunt in their coastal town of North Carolina premiered on Netflix. It quickly became a massive hit, changing the lives of its young cast practically overnight. Now in its third season, Outer Banks still remains one of the streamer’s most popular and anticipated shows. It’s the adventure-filled gift that keeps on giving, especially for star Madison Bailey. 

Kiara—or Kie, as she is affectionately referred to by her friend group, the Pogues—isn’t just another character on Bailey’s ever-expanding IMDb résumé. The 24-year-old has literally grown up beside her passionate and loyal on-screen counterpart, and there’s a level of comfort in quite literally stepping back into Kiara’s shoes each season. But it’s not just the familiarity that makes her so special to Bailey. It’s what the character and the show have done for the actress personally. "Obviously, all my opportunities at the moment are stemming from this blessing of doing Outer Banks and the timing of everything, but it’s also turned my eye to action,” she shares with us on a Zoom call. "It’s showing me what I’m interested in and that I don’t want to do comedy as much as I thought I did.” Action-adventures, thrillers, and dramas come more naturally to Bailey. When season one of OBX premiered, people started comparing the actress to the likes of Michelle Rodriguez, which was a pleasant surprise for the North Carolina native. "I was like, ‘Wait, I do like that for myself.’ It opened my eyes,” she says.


(Image credit: Jess Wasson)

Bailey assures us there is plenty of action and drama in OBX season 3, adding that "it’s full of adventure.” This time around, the sought-after treasure circles back to the gold from season one. Washed up on a deserted island they now call Poguelandia and out to get revenge, the group must stop at nothing to get their hands on the desired bounty. Oh, and that spark between Kiara and JJ that we saw at the end of last season? We will see more of that too. "This season is definitely them navigating what the future of this chemistry looks like and where we fit into each other’s worlds—if we fit into each other’s worlds,” she says.

When the season three trailer premiered on February 2, it racked up over 5.5 million views. The OBX fan base is nothing if not dedicated. The impact the show has on its fans is not lost on Bailey either. Getting to hear people share genuine stories of how the show and Kiara have affected them continues to be one of the most rewarding aspects for the actor.


(Image credit: Jess Wasson)

But connecting with fans on social media and opening up your life to them is a double-edged sword. If you give too much, people can take advantage. Give too little, and your message and what you stand for can get lost. Bailey admits that striking the right balance between being a public figure with a large platform and maintaining a private life is a work in progress. She has been open about her mental health struggles and diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, and she came out as pansexual in 2020.

"I have gone through different moments of wanting different levels of privacy,” she says. "And to be honest, those things change on a very regular basis just with who I am and how my brain works. I want people to perceive me as human as possible. But I’ve also learned over the last couple of years the responsibility I have as somebody that is in a position of inspiring other people, and I don’t take that lightly. I try to be careful with my privacy because I’ve now seen how people can take you out of context when you mean well, but [I’m] also sharing enough of myself where people don’t lose my overall message as a person, which is to be yourself, flawed, and emotional.”



In an effort to protect herself mentally and emotionally, Bailey is big on self-care. For her, it can be as simple as not putting too much on her schedule in one day, not putting pressure on herself with goals, or just staying home and cooking. She plays the ukulele for an hour every morning as a way to decompress. She picked up the instrument when production for OBX put her in lessons because they thought it would be a good character fit. While her playing never actually made it into the show, she’s happy to have the skill and a fun outlet for creative expression.

Another thing that brings Bailey joy is makeup. When we ask about her longtime partnership with Fenty Beauty, she lights up. "I love makeup!” she says excitedly. "I have been a makeup girl since the early YouTube days of the original beauty gurus.” When Fenty Beauty debuted, Bailey was just in high school and immediately gravitated toward the products. Yes, she has been a Rihanna fan for as long as she can remember, but more than that, she loves how the brand continues to bring about big change for the beauty industry at large. 


(Image credit: Jess Wasson)

The mere mention of TikTok beauty trends prompts Bailey to let out a big sigh. While the video app has influenced her to buy products, she just can’t get on board with all the crazy makeup techniques. "I don’t need to do my makeup with the end of a book,” she laughs. Instead, she’s been picking up tips and tricks from the makeup artists she’s working with for press events. She even did her own makeup for the Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery Los Angeles premiere. "I felt great,” she adds.

As our conversation with Bailey starts to wrap up, we look at the year ahead. How does she define success for herself in 2023? She pauses, realizing the weight of the question. In line with her self-care philosophy of not putting too much pressure on goals, she leaves us with this poignant response: "Feeling peace. If you have found a way to cope with this crazy world, then you are successful. That’s what you were supposed to do. Learn, love others, and find your peace.” 

Season three of Outer Banks is now streaming on Netflix.

Executive Director, Entertainment

Jessica Baker is Who What Wear’s Executive Director, Entertainment, where she ideates, books, writes, and edits celebrity and entertainment features.