'Outer Banks' Star Madison Bailey on Finding Love and Living With Borderline Personality Disorder (Exclusive)
By Leena Tailor
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Outer Banks star Madison Bailey is opening up about being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, whether Outer Banks fans will get the Kiara/JJ romance they’ve been shipping, how she discovered she was pansexual and found love with UNC Charlotte basketball player Mariah Linney.
While the 21-year-old actress says she has always been open about her sexuality, a recent TikTok post was seen by many as her coming-out moment. Speaking to ET’s Katie Krause, Bailey said that while she feels like she’s been pansexual “forever,” it was only in recent years that she came to understand the term. She is now completely smitten with her new love, Linney, getting emotional while discussing their special bond with ET.
The two started talking in early May, after Bailey saw a TikTok video Linney posted, hunted her down on Instagram and made it onto one of her Instagram Lives, leading the two to start DMing each other. Eventually suggesting they should meet up in person, Bailey was shocked to discover Linney only lived 20 minutes away in Charleston, South Carolina, where they subsequently had their first official date.
“I was staying in a hotel in Charleston and was like, ‘Just come hang out. We can chat, chill. Everything’s closed so it's not like we can go out anywhere,” Bailey said, adding that her family met Linney three days later. “And, then she just came out to L.A. I actually dropped her at the airport this morning, which is really sad. Impossible to say goodbye.”
“It’s very serious,” Bailey added about the romance. “I had zero hesitation to post on social media about it because I was like, ‘No matter what happens, you will be in my life forever.’ I care about her so much. She's very gentle-hearted, kind, loving, and you see that in the way she loves basketball [and] her family. You see her loyalty and dedication in the things that she cares about. I think I am in love.”
The couple have decided not to go a month without seeing each other, meaning their next catch-up should be in July.
In the meantime, Bailey is celebrating Pride Month, sharing how significant the annual event is in her own life. “I experienced my very first Pride in Atlanta and it was a really good time,” she recalled. “It was my first time being surrounded by solely my community and I learned so much, not just about other people’s sexuality and gender, but my own.”
“[Being pansexual is] basically just loving people for people, regardless of gender or any type of sexuality or any type of anything,” she added, opening up about her own sexual discovery. “I dated a girl when I was 18 and was like, ‘Yay, I'm gay… but I still like boys, so I guess I’m bi.’ I went a couple of months feeling like I was bi, then I worked with a trans boy on a show and we dated and I was like, ‘What does that make me? I guess I’m pan.’ I just went with the flow.”
Bailey said that while she had an easy coming-out experience compared to many others, she was scared to tell her mother, who is from Alabama. The moment came during an argument when Bailey was 18. “I was like, ‘You don't even know anything about me!’ being really melodramatic,” she shared. “My mom was like, ‘What don't I know about you?’ I was like, ‘You don't even know I've been dating a girl for a month,’ and she goes -- in the thickest southern accent there ever was -- ‘Fine, Madison, be gay.’”
“It was so hard not to start laughing,” she continued. “It was like, ‘Fine, Madison, be gay, I don't care.’ And, then I told my dad and he goes, ‘I know.’”
Something that has been more difficult to navigate for Bailey has been living with borderline personality disorder, which she was diagnosed with around age 17. “It's not something I know everything about. I'm figuring it out day by day on my own,” she said. “I'm not a therapy person. I'm very internal with the way that I like to deal with things, and I like to self-educate on a lot of things. I got my diagnosis, and that's what I needed -- a word to call it other than ‘crazy.’ I started realizing my own triggers.”
“There's a lot of pros and cons to my disorder,” she added. “One of the main [pros] is that likes and dislikes change often, so my aesthetic changes often. My music taste changes often. I have a very broad personality, which allows me to connect with a lot of people. Being sensitive was such a hard thing [and] that's another one of the main components of this disorder -- having an exposed nerve to every emotion and feeling. But it allows me to connect with so many more people. I'm able to put myself in other people's shoes easily, and deliver empathy with authenticity.”
Bailey has turned to meditating and crystals to help her cope with the disorder. She says acting has also been great, because “on days when it's really hard to be myself, it's really easy to be somebody else.”
And the beloved character she pretends to be on those days? Outer Banks’ Kiara! The series, now streaming on Netflix, has developed a strong following, and many viewers are waiting for the day that Kiara gets together with JJ, played by Rudy Pankow. In fact, some fans have had such a hard time differentiating Bailey from Kiara that they want her to be dating Pankow, not Linney, in real life.
However, Bailey is all for a Kiara/JJ romance. “I'm all for it,” she said. “He's a great scene partner. I love working with Rudy. If that's where the show goes, it's where it goes.”