Introducing Byrdie Boy: our series here to break outdated perceptions of men and beauty. We'll be highlighting the routines, product picks, and musings of cool guys with a unique POV, so our male and man-aligned readers can learn about skincare, makeup, and hair from a trusted, inclusive source. Next up: Felix Mallard, actor-musician-model.
There's no instruction manual for the kind of attention Felix Mallard has received in the past few months—he'll be the first one to tell you that. Though the 22-year-old actor had more than a few projects under his belt before this his breakout role in Ginny & Georgia, the show propelled Mallard to the kind of fame no one is prepared for. Within weeks of the show's release, Mallard's Instagram following exploded from 90k followers to his current three million. But speaking with Mallard one-on-one, it's clear he's grateful for the praise but more interested in the show's message and social responsibility. In fact, he's happiest working, playing with his band Enemies Alike, or sipping some quality coffee before surfing. You can expect to see a lot more of Mallard soon, both immediately with a storyline on Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, but also in the future as his brand of humble craftsmanship is one that tends to go far. You might even call him the proverbial boy next door—literally, in the case of his Ginny & Georgia character.
Here, Mallard opens up about the connection between music and acting, his dream day off, and how he stays mentally and physically sharp.
So where are you Zooming from today?
"Zooming from Toronto! Yeah, we're on set. It's freezing, but it's nice! It's nice to get a break from LA for a bit. We shot Ginny & Georgia back here, so it's nice to be back."
How's your 2021 looking so far? A step up from 2020, I hope?
"There's no comparison, really. I mean, 2021 has been super, super fortunate. I got to do a guest role on Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist. My second-to-last episode came out last night, which was amazing. And it feels there's like an overwhelming sense of hope, which is quite lovely. You know, it feels like the virus is getting better... people are actually making steps to beat it. And it feels like, at some point, things might return to normal. So I think so far, it's just been filled with hope and trepidation that things might be okay."
Hope is a nice change of pace for sure. Is there anything that you've been especially looking forward to as things improve?
"Going home. I want to go to Australia; I want to see people. They're quite lucky that they've got a much better handle on things than they do up in North America. But yeah, I think that's what I'm looking forward to most is being able to travel and see people and hug people and just hang out, you know? Like we used to."
For sure. When you're away from Australia, other than your friends and family, what is it you miss most?
"When I'm away from Australia, I miss the community, I think. I mean, I guess that counts as family and friends but just the sense of community. Where I'm from, at least, you know, everyone is within a five-mile radius. You can kind of shoot a message and then go and hang out with them, and that is what I miss.
I miss the culture of going and getting a coffee. Melbourne is a very big coffee city. I didn't realize that I was such a snob about coffee (LAUGHS). I was in Australia, and it's kind of a known thing that all people from Melbourne are snobby about their coffee. And then I moved to LA, and I started going, 'Where are all the good coffee spots?!' I heard myself, and I went, 'Oh yeah, no, I totally am.' So I guess I miss the coffee as well! (LAUGHS)"
Are you hot coffee, iced coffee, or a change-with-the-season guy? I know people are very hardcore about their signature coffee temperatures.
"People are hardcore with their orders, absolutely! I am: double-shot, oat milk, flat white, hot, year-round."
A correct answer with the oat milk there. I gotta ask, your skin looks incredible through the screen—I would love to know what your routine is looking like these days.
"That's very kind. My routine kind of varies depending on whether I'm working or not. If I'm working, then I'm pretty lucky in that it's all looked after for me. So I'll go to work, the makeup artist will put the makeup on, and then I make a point, as soon as we wrap up, I go in, get a hot towel, wash it off, put toner and moisturizer on, and then go home. And when I'm not working, it's just stripped back. If I've got a cleanser at that time, then I'll use that, but quite often, I'll just, you know, wash it in the morning and then put a moisturizer on for the day, and then I'm done."
I like it, tried and true. So I'd love to know, also kind of amidst everything changing and you traveling a lot for work, what's been inspiring you lately?
"For me, it's always music. Music always seems to be that thing that kind of draws me back into myself and allows me to visit emotions or realize what I'm feeling. There's a great band out of Australia call King Stingray that I'm listening to at the moment. They're a surf rock, kind of psychedelic blend that's really, really cool. And then also, Angie McMahon is a beautiful artist out of Melbourne as well, and she's got an album called Salt. And it sounds as if Florence and the Machine played in a soft grunge band. It's like a really cool, gritty story of disenfranchised youth in Australia. I just love it. And it kind of just brings me back to what I want to be doing and why I want to feel these things all that kind of stuff."
I love that. It sounds kind of like some vaguely Sonic Youth vibes. On the back of that, I know you play in a band. Are there any records that you feel like really either changed your life in a big, marked way or influenced your band's sound a lot?
"Absolutely, yeah. The first one would be Jimi Hendrix, Live at Woodstock. My dad had the DVD, and he would play it when I was really young, and I would watch it, and it kind of just kicked off my obsession with guitar. And it's just a legendary performance. He was delayed three days before the performance, and people just hung around at the festival, waiting to see. He was booked on the last day. And it was, you know, it's legendary. So that was a huge influence in my playing in terms of feeling and writing and kind of emotive-ness. That's not a word! (LAUGHS)
There's this band out of, I think, Grand Rapids, Michigan called La Dispute. And they are... I think you would call it alternative hardcore, but it's this beautiful spoken word poetry over really, really hard, hardcore stuff. Jordan, the lead singer, screams a lot. But his poetry is just really succinct and his writing is beautiful. I think it was just such a big inspiration to kind of try—and not necessarily emulate that style because I can't scream—but to try and write from that perspective and really see what it is that you want to connect with and what you really want to tell an audience. That relates to acting as well. So it's kind of those emotions, visiting that and realizing what I want to tell kind of came from that album. The album was called Wildlife. And then the third one was Frogstomp by Silverchair, which—have you heard of them?"
I don't believe I have, no.
"I'm always interested to see how far they made it into America or whether they did at all. Because they were kind of, in the 90s, Australia's answer to Nirvana. They released their first album at 15, and it was just pure grunge. It was a huge influence on me growing up, being a 15-year-old wanting to play grunge and having this perfect example of a debut album. So I kind of just listened to that on repeat as I was growing up."
That sounds, like, perfectly angsty in the best way.
"Oh, it's so angsty! It's so raw, and it really is them kind of coming into their craft. Their few albums after that, they really hone it. And Silverchair started in grunge and then moved more towards a sophisticated, poppy, maybe even like a Coldplay kind of style, that was their trajectory. So it's really interesting as a band to see that kind of change and shift."
Are you into any kind of wellness practice? Are you a vitamin, meditation person? Or just a regular workout person?
"I should be! I should be. It depends on when you ask me. I think if you asked me before the pandemic, I'd have been like, 'Yep, I'm taking my multivitamin, going to the gym.' I was going to the gym for Ginny & Georgia, I think, six days a week. And then the pandemic hit, and it's like, all gone. It's all gone. Don't do anything. I need to. And that's going to be my 2021 push, to get back into looking after myself."
Yeah, it's so interesting. I feel like, with the pandemic, there were two responses: either people went hard with the health stuff, or they were like, "I no longer feel encumbered by the burden to do this. I'm over it."
"You know, the first few weeks when people were like, 'This is cool, I'm gonna learn how to bake bread!' I have lost any sense of wanting to improve myself during an extremely traumatic time. There was a point during the summer in LA when I was like, 'This is too hard.' It's too traumatic even to consider bettering myself or consider doing all of that. I would have just burnt out. So I think through the last year, I'm astounded and inspired by the people who have; I'm not knocking them. But for myself, it became too hard. (LAUGHS)"
Coming out of such a dark time, what's bringing you like true joy right now. What just makes you happy when you're experiencing it?
"That's a good question. Really, really simple things. I think the one thing that last year has brought into focus a lot is just the daily little activities that you do that bring you joy. I take to the park every morning, and I throw the ball. That's a really simple, really easy thing, but it just kind of sets the day in motion—little things like getting a coffee in the morning and going for walks. I became obsessed with surfing last year because it was kind of the only thing you could do in LA, so I'm obsessed with that. Anytime I can go and get away, I will. It's harder in Toronto because the only place you can surf is freezing, and it's hard to get the days right. But in LA, if you're lucky, it's almost every day. So that is something that I've really, really been enjoying."
What's cool is surfing seems like a good combination of like spiritual/nature connection athleticism.
"Totally. I've only been surfing for six or seven months, so I'm certainly not an expert, but it does feel like that. The one thing that you learn pretty early on is that you can't fight the ocean. It's just its own thing, and it will do whatever it wants to do. Part of surfing is recognizing that and going, 'Okay, well how can I how do I fit into all of this? And how can I get my timing right?' So there is a certain spiritual, meditative aspect to it: you get up early, you're out there at like 6 a.m. or 7 in the morning in the water before anyone else. That's really special, for sure."
You've been acting for a while, but your Ginny & Georgia role was really huge, and so many people were buzzing about that, and your Instagram was blowing up. I'm curious to know what that felt like firsthand, kind of in the eye of the storm.
"I think with any job and with any project, what I want to try and bring to it is a sense of communicating that it's okay to feel whatever the characters are going through. That's kind of the power of film and what I love about TV is that you have a responsibility to the people who are watching. Like, show the young men watching Marcus that it's okay to be vulnerable. It's okay to have insecurities. But, it's also not okay to hide behind them and hurt other people as a result. Any time that opportunity presents itself in a job, I want to jump on it straight away. And Ginny & Georgia was that because the story was just so clear, and I thought, 'This is great. This is an opportunity to really do some fun work and tell a meaningful story.' And that's all. That's always what I'm going to be trying to do. And then the success of the show has been so heartwarming, and so thrilling, and very overwhelming. There's no handbook to knowing how to deal with all of this added attention and all of the people watching it, but it's incredible. And it is just a true testament to the writing and the hard work that everyone involved put into the show. Because it's resonating, and people see themselves in the show, and that's all we could ever ask for, really."
Finally, let's say you get some time off: either you're in LA and you have a little bit of time to yourself, or you're in Australia. How are you spending that day?
"Before the pandemic, I was the biggest homebody. I was the biggest hermit crab. And I still kind of am. But I think, you know, when I get some time off, it'll be surfing. It'll be just getting down to the beach, getting out in nature, and really trying to enjoy what is around me. Because I think... last year has opened my eyes to not being stuck inside all the time. As much as I love that—and I love staying home and playing music—I do just want to get out there and enjoy the sun. I found that I'm a solar-powered human being. I didn't realize! I went to Vancouver for Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, and two weeks in, I was like, 'I don't know why I'm feeling a bit depressed.' And then I called some people up, and they're like, 'Yeah, because it's raining all the time!' And then, as soon as I got some sun, I felt like a new human being. I'm totally going to try and embrace that—maybe get an Airbnb somewhere and just try and enjoy the nature of it."