From scheming in the tropical Eden of Hawai'i to modeling amid the snowy mountains, actress-singer and now model Brittany O'Grady is really doing it all.
The 25-year-old made big waves as Paula in HBO Max's hit dramady The White Lotus. Now, she's starring in Coach's 2021 ski campaign. We caught up with the up-and-comer to hear more about what life is like post Lotus, how it felt to attend her first New York Fashion Week, and how her own fashion sense continues to evolve.
How was your experience working on White Lotus? I know that show was a big hit.
It was awesome. I really enjoyed my experience working on the show. For it to be received in the way that it has is really exciting. I know some people have found it really funny. Some people have really resonated with the deep themes of it. It's like another chapter in my adult life that's started to open up many other doors that I had been hoping was going to open at some point. So, that's really cool. I'm really excited.
What has the experience of that show, both filming and in the aftermath, taught you?
Oh, wow. I learned a lot [while] filming. I just kind of played a student during that time. We had such iconic people on the show. There [were] so many other actors on the job who are multifaceted, do many things and had a lot of experience. Afterward, I kind of forgot that the show was going to come out because we were living in [Hawaii] for three months creating the story. When it was [about to come out], I didn't know what to expect. It really took off. Now, I'm embracing what people are saying and how they're feeling about the show. It's really nice to hear that people identified with my character, Paula, or they felt disgusted by Paula. Whatever interpretation that they have of the character I played, I'm just happy that it was done well.
Of course, we’re here to talk about your starring role in the new Coach campaign. As someone who grew up in Arlington, how was your fashion sense influenced by the people and places around you? Especially as the seasons changed.
In Arlington, you experience all four seasons. I'm gonna be honest, growing up in the D.C. area, I didn't really focus on fashion as much. It wasn't until I left home that I started to explore and feel like I could express myself. I moved to L.A. to pursue my career in acting, and that's when so many doors opened up. I was learning a lot from my peers or being on set, and people loving different [fashion] brands. That's when I started to really pay attention and realize that fashion can be a form of expression. In the D.C. area, there are people who are fashionable, and then there's a lot of people [who] are a little bit more practical and kind of stick to one particular style.
You moved to LA when you were 17. What inspired you most in the fashion world, and how would you say your style shifted?
When I first moved to L.A., it was just thrift, and the thrifting was just way cooler. From there, I think my sense of fashion has expanded. This year going to Fashion Week and my experience with Coach, I'm excited to explore more. I think that I'm way more open to and also appreciative of the art that goes behind the artistic vision of clothing that people choose to represent themselves in. I think that I have a small, narrow understanding of fashion, and now have a bigger appreciation for it and want to connect more to brands that have an artistic vision.
You mentioned attending your first NYFW this past September. What was that like?
I was so overwhelmed. To know how much effort was put into the two minutes of a show reminded me of theater in a way. There's so much that goes [on] behind [the scenes] and people leave feeling inspired. I remember going to the Coach show, and it felt like you're in a New York City street—and you haven't experienced that in a while, since COVID. I felt humbled and so excited to be considered to be a part of the audience for that moment. It was nice to see close friends that I've made throughout the years in my work there as well, and then meeting other amazing designers as well who have such a great, inspiring story and make wonderful clothing.
How would you define your style aesthetic?
I really love feminine clothing. I love floral prints and flowy dresses. I also have this other side of me that likes really chic, monochromatic and nice lines that [are] very simple and you can mix and match with many different things. There's also a part of me that likes really cute stuff. One of my favorite pieces from Coach’s [collection] is this sweater with a T-Rex on it. It's super cute as a statement of having that fun element, but also being super sophisticated.
How has it been working with Coach on the Ski collection campaign?
It was super fun. I never thought that ski wear could be cute. The shoot itself was a lot of fun as well, and working with all the models. I like the energy that everybody brought.
Do you feel like the collection connects with your personal fashion style?
Yeah, I think it's definitely a moment of expansion for me, because I'll be wearing ski pants that were my mom's or something, and they're just black. To have something that's a little more expressive is exciting for me. When you're doing sports like that, you don't have to be in boring clothing. You can have some sort of cute expressive ski wear, while you do it.
The collection is a celebration of skiing as a fun, nostalgic winter pastime. Can you relate to the nostalgic feeling of skiing?
Yeah, I ski often. I usually ski every year. Sometimes I might skip a year depending on work or what's going on, but I normally ski on the east coast up north, or I'll go to the Rocky Mountains with my fiance and ski. It was something we did growing up all the time with our dad. He taught my sister, my brother, my mom and I how to ski. I love doing it.
Would you say you’re an advanced skier?
I would say that I'm solid. I can do a black diamond, but I need a couple of days. I need to go from green and then warm up to the blues and then get to the blacks, but I can get there!
What would you say is your favorite piece from the collection?
The ski pants are pretty amazing. There was a really cute snow skirt that I got to wear. Not that I'd wear that skiing, but I just thought that was really cute to wear in the wintertime with some tights. Then there was that dinosaur sweater. That was just my all-time favorite.
What is next for you? What are your goals for 2022?
I'm getting married in 2022! I'm excited about that. My goal is just to always try to work hard, but also take care of myself in the best way possible and care for those around me; to live in gratitude and be a little bit more present. Hopefully, the world will be in better shape with the pandemic, which may be behind us. I'm just being safe and doing my job to keep a low spread of the virus.
Any career plans or upcoming projects in the new year?
Yes, I do have some projects coming up. I don't know if I can say them yet, but there are some things on the horizon. I'm just so excited to be a part of this campaign. I don't think I've ever modeled winter wear before, so that was really cool. Now I can be cuter on the ski slopes!
In celebration of the Coach Ski collection launch, Coach will host special holiday events at the Coach Houston Galleria and Atlanta Lenox Square stores on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 4 and 5. Guests are invited to discover the newly designed store, enjoy local catering, a live DJ set, and receive a bag personalized by an in-store artist. Larn more and shop the new ski collection via Coach.com.
Photography by: Zackery Michael