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Madelyn Cline

Zoom Date: Madelyn Cline on Her 'The Sims' Obsession and $7 Skincare Holy-Grail

Welcome to Zoom Date, our new feature series where we get up close and personal via Zoom screen with our favorite celebs. They'll be giving us an honest peek into what their "new normal" looks likefrom new rituals they've adopted since quarantine, to work projects in the age of isolation, to the beauty and health products they've been using to self-soothe.

If you’re looking for a little escapism from the dreariness of #quarantinelife, you could do worse than to watch Outer Banks, Netflix’s new series about a group of teenagers in a North Carolina coastal town who go on the hunt for a multimillion-dollar fortune. It’s sexy, thrilling, and—most importantly—summery: pretty much the entire show takes place outside, i.e. that place where many of us haven’t been in months for more than a few minutes at a time.

Another reason to watch: to meet your newest girl crush. Madelyn Cline plays Sarah, the rebellious, rich-girl love interest of the show’s protagonist John B, and her sunny affect lights up whatever scene she’s in as soon as she comes onscreen. A scion of a wealthy family who wants more than her sheltered upbringing has to offer, Cline’s character Sarah sort of serves as the liaison between the two social groups who comprise the bulk of the show’s characters—the rich, elitist Kooks and the rebellious, working-class Pogues. In real life (or at least, as far as I can tell through Zoom), Cline’s energy is just as infectious. On an unfairly-sunny Tuesday morning, I caught up with the starlet to talk about self-isolation routines, video game obsessions, and which CVS beauty product she can’t get enough of.

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Cristina Cianci via Zoom

If we weren’t in the middle of a global pandemic, what would an average day look like for you?

"I mean, before the show came out, an average day would be: I’d wake up, I would make my cup of coffee, I would make some breakfast. Normally I’d be going to the gym, I’d probably call my parents, and then later on in the day probably meet up with the rest of the cast for dinner. We’d maybe do something like go to the pool, a cookout, I don’t know, maybe go on a drive—we try to keep ourselves busy. FaceTime is my best friend right now."

It sounds like you and the cast are pretty close. I read somewhere that a bunch of you were quarantining together at first, is that right?

"We were, yeah, for about a month and a half. We just decided, why not just try and go through this together and be with each other for when the show comes out, so we don’t have to go through it alone, because for all of us that’s been a big life transition. We’ve all kind of gone our separate ways—about a week and a half ago, two weeks ago? I don’t know, I’m losing track of time. But it was five of us, and we were just building forts and watching movies and making dinners. We played Call of Duty all the time."

Everyone I know is big into Animal Crossing right now. It isn’t really for me, but I did just download The Sims.

"I. Love. The Sims. I have The Sims on my computer, I have The Sims 3, and I have spent way too much money on expansion packs, like, more than I would like to admit. I have been hooked on The Sims since I was maybe 11, and I’m still a big Sims person. If I can’t go outside, my Sims can, you know?"

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Cristina Cianci via Zoom

It must be strange to go through this career-changing moment while everybody’s in quarantine. What has it been like to experience the release of the show in the middle of all of this?

"It’s definitely bizarre. It’s the first time I’ve ever experienced something like this, and we’re experiencing it under very different circumstances than usual. Social media has really been the only gauge that we have for analytics and numbers, and so we’ve kind of been watching the social media grow, and that’s been crazy because it’s absolutely skyrocketed in the past three weeks. We’ve stayed pretty consistent in Netflix’s top 10 since the show came out. So it’s mind-blowing for sure, and it’s definitely personally overwhelming, but at the same time I’m trying to stay in touch with reality and what’s going on in the world. Like, every night at 8 p.m., my entire neighborhood opens their windows and cheers for the medical workers in the hospitals because that’s when they switch shifts, and that’s by far my favorite time of the day—seeing everybody come together and just cheer and find a glimpse of hope during this time. It’s weird, because we’re super, super grateful for all the fans and the people who are watching, but at the same time it’s like, we’re not really in touch with the world right now. I kind of feel like I’m just locked in a box right now, and nothing really feels tangible or real."

I kind of feel like I’m just locked in a box right now, and nothing really feels tangible or real.

If anything, I feel like the current situation has made people even more excited about the show, because it’s this summery, outdoorsy The OC-meets-The Goonies Gen Z fantasy, and that’s kind of like wish fulfillment right now.

"I know, it’s so interesting, the timing of it. We knew going into it that we had a show that was very much an escapist show, but due to the current circumstances it’s even more escapist than originally we gave it credit for. We’re going into summer right now, and people are having to stay in, so they’re watching the show and living vicariously through the landscape of the show and the cinematography and that golden filter we have, and it feels very sunny and summery. I’ve gotten a lot of messages from people that are like, 'This has made my quarantine better,' 'It reminds me of summer with my friends, and thank you for that,' and 'It’s just making life a little bit more bearable right now.' Just the fact that we’re able to give some sort of escape to people, even if it’s just for an hour—that makes me happy."

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Cristina Cianci via Zoom 

What does your routine look like in quarantine? I know you mentioned YouTube workout videoswhat else have you been doing?

"It’s funny, because since quarantine started I have actually gotten into a better routine. It’s almost like it forced me to be a little more self-disciplined with my time. I’ve started getting up really early—like, almost ungodly early. It’s taught me to learn to enjoy an hour before everything gets started for the day. I’ll probably go on YouTube and watch a Joe Rogan podcast about aliens or something, just to get the creative juices flowing. I’ll make my coffee, I’ll make my breakfast. I’ve been trying to read more, but I get so distracted—I’ve been trying to read a book called Sapiens, and it is like, the history of humankind condensed into a book about [PINCHING HER FINGERS] this big. And it’s really interesting, but it’s very dry, and I can only concentrate on straight facts for so long before my mind is like, 'Okay… Jersey Shore?'

A couple times a week I’ll go in my car with my mask on and put my phone down and just go on a drive. Also, I have been going to my roof. My landlord doesn’t know this. It’s not really a rooftop that’s supposed to be used—like, I’m not supposed to be up there—but I’ll take my towel and my speaker and I’ll go and I’ll just lay in the sun."

Your landlord doesn’t know you’re doing this interview, right?

"I don’t think he’ll see it, no. [LAUGHS] But just trying to get some sort of sunlight or fresh air outside every day as well."

Are there any other hobbies or rituals you’ve picked up for self-care?

"Excuse my French, but I’m such a whore for skincare. I love skincare products so much. I don’t really like to wear a whole lot of makeup to begin with, so it’s nice because I’ve been letting my skin breathe."

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Cristina Cianci via Zoom 

What are your favorite products right now? I love that you’re so excited to answer this question.

"This is my favorite subject! I’m always trying out new things, but I use Neutrogena Rapid Clear face wash morning and night, and in the mornings I use Glossier Futuredew. I’ll put it on regardless of whether or not I’m using foundation. I just like how it makes my skin look really dewy—I have it on right now! It just kind of gives you that healthy glow. And then I’ll just spritz with Mario Badescu’s rosewater spray. And then at night, that's when I use my really heavy-duty moisturizers. I’ll wash with the Neutrogena wash and then usually I like to tone with this SK II toner. I love that stuff because I get redness on my cheeks, and I notice that when I use it the redness goes down. And then I’ll go over it with SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore, and then SkinCeuticals' CE Ferulic Serum.

At night, I also I moisturize out the wazoo. And then for lip balm I use this stuff called Bag Balm. It’s like a petroleum jelly—it has the same consistency, but it is the best thing ever because I’ll wake up and all the dead skin on my lips will have come completely off. The tin is $7 at CVS, and I’ve had it for three years. I find that normal lip balms will dry my lips out more, but this Bag Balm is my holy grail.

What about other practices for well-being? How are you handling your mental health right now?

"I have gotten into meditating, just because it has been such a strange mix of events—the show doing really well while we’re in quarantine in the middle of a global pandemic. It’s a bunch of weird stressors all thrown into the mix. So I’ve downloaded Headspace and I’ll just do a quick 20-minute guided meditation. That’s helped a lot because I have anxiety, and my anxiety is one of those things that’ll just pop up out of nowhere and I’ll go into tunnel vision, so I’ll take 20 minutes and meditate when I’m feeling the panic come on. I especially have intense social anxiety, so it’s interesting, because now that we’re social distancing, the social anxiety has plummeted. But I get overwhelmed very easily, so the anxiety of feeling like you can never quite keep up with what’s going on is a little panic-inducing for me. It’s almost like quarantine gives you a mirror—you have to spend this time with yourself, so what are you gonna do? So it helps to be taking the time to meditate and to talk yourself out of the lies that your brain is telling you."

It’s almost like quarantine gives you a mirror—you have to spend this time with yourself, so what are you gonna do?

What are your hopes for when we all come out of this period? Are there new practices and rituals you think you’re taking with you out of quarantine, things you’re especially looking forward to?

"I just hope that we don’t jump the gun too quickly. I want nothing more than for life to go back to normal, but I want everybody to stay safe and stay healthy so that we don’t have to worry about a second wave of this and we can all continue about our lives. I think personally I’m definitely gonna take some of the habits I’ve created in quarantine because I think they’re healthy habits for life in general, like meditation, keeping a daily routine. Obviously I’ve become a lot better about communicating, and I want to continue with that. Also, just not taking for granted being able to go outside. When this is over, I’m going to get a mimosa, I’m going to go to the park. I’m definitely not going to take for granted that kind of freedom."

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