Meet Chase Stokes: the down-to-earth Outer Banks’ it boy who has already stolen the hearts of millions across the country. The newly-minted V Man cover star, who famously went to the show audition with negative $20 in his bank account, is quickly climbing the ladder of fame—and staying refreshingly humble as he does it. We caught up with ‘John B’ IRL to hear about his long-trailed acting journey, his latest back-to-school campaign with childhood-favorite denim supplier American Eagle, what it’s like dating co-star Madelyn Cline, the importance of mental health awareness, and—of course!—his uber-cool, laidback style.
When did you first get into acting?
You know, I kind of bounced all around. I was born in Annapolis, Maryland, I lived in Virginia for a little bit, and St. Louis, Missouri, and Atlanta, and then ended up in Orlando. It wasn’t really until after college that I decided to make the trek to Los Angeles. And that’s where the journey began. I mean, I did commercials and smaller stuff when I was in college with local agencies and whatnot. But I didn’t move out to L.A. until after.
This is your hero story. You showed up to the Outer Banks audition with no money and a low morale. And now, a year later, you’re working on a second season. What has this journey been like for you?
Oh my gosh. It’s been the most incredible experience. We have such a great cast and crew. And it’s so fun to tell stories that sort of take people out of the craziness of our day-to-day life. To go from literally having nothing to what we have now has just been really gratifying. As an artist of any capacity, you’re always hoping that people appreciate your work. And when it’s taken in the ways that it has been with the first season, and hopefully the second season as well, we’re just very grateful. All around, I’m just very thankful for the opportunity to continue to tell stories.
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You basically became a star overnight during a pandemic! What did that feel like?
It was kind of bizarre. You see the numbers on social media, and you see the articles on the Internet, but there wasn’t that human to human interaction, so it was hard to gauge how real it was. It sort of all felt like a fever dream—like I was going to wake up at some point. But it never was and it’s continued to move and groove. We made the second season during the pandemic, and it’s been all very hard to process. But, you know, I think the thing that keeps everything consistent is that we just take it day by day, and there’s no rush to anything. We take our time and whatever happens, happens. We’re very fortunate to continue to tell these stories and sort of live in this ‘pinch me’ state.
You’re also working with brands now too. Tell me about the American Eagle Future Together. Jeans Forever campaign? How did that come to be?
We kind of realized that there was not necessarily a younger audience without Outer Banks, but we wanted to make sure that we were engaging with brands that felt in line with the show, and making it an obtainable sort of partnership. American Eagle had an awesome idea with the first campaign and really wanted myself and Madison Bailey’s input. We got to have a lot of say in bringing it to life. So, that just felt like a really awesome opportunity for me to get my feet wet—not just a really cool opportunity, but [one] with a brand I grew up with. I mean, I grew up buying American Eagle jeans because they’re affordable, you know! My household wasn’t able to buy the most expensive things. So it was kind of like 17-year-old Chase playing a 17-year-old on TV, and giving back to that 17-year-old in all those ways. It was a really cool full circle moment. With this new campaign, it’s the time when we’re all going back to school. All the kids that have been robbed of the last calendar year of school are able to go back and be around friends, hopefully, this fall. We wanted to put together several specialists and faces that the world enjoys and do something fun.
What’s it like working alongside the other people in the campaign?
It’s great! Funny story. I was at a table read—I read for a couple characters in the original table read for season one of Stranger Things. So Caleb [McLaughlin] and I had a moment where we were like, ‘Oh my gosh, you were [there too].’ And so we had a full circle type of moment. Bailey and I also have a very special relationship, so that was a lot of fun to work with her again. I hadn’t met Addison or Jenna, and they were just great. We had a really good time. It’s a fun couple days of shooting some stuff on the mountains and having a good little time.
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You’re also known for being involved in promoting mental health awareness. Tell me about the Bring Change to Mind series you worked on.
That was one of the most special experiences of my life. As a kid who’s always kind of struggled with understanding his emotions—it wasn’t until my mid-to-late 20s that I really started to seek out help and understanding—I wish I had access to a group like Bring Change to Mind. So we brought the partnership up to American Eagle, and they gladly wanted to do something. To raise as much money as we did was, it was incredible. That really is a testament to the power and the brand of American Eagle, as well as the fanbase of Outer Banks. It’s so awesome to see that so many people care about wanting to spread the message of awareness about mental health. I’m glad that I get to be a part of growing this organization and turning it into [something] that’s going to impact people—and not just right now, but for generations. It’s something that when I’m gone my kids’ kids can be like, ‘Oh, my grandfather did that,’ or ‘My great grandfather started that.’
If you had to give any advice, what advice would you have for those who are uncomfortable talking about their mental health? Where can they start?
I think the first thing is taking the time with yourself to learn about it. I think if you try to overwhelm yourself, and that’s really what I did, [or] if you jump super quick in therapy, or you jump to just trying to get all the answers too quick, then I think it becomes a little overwhelming. And so, I would just say do your research and look it up. BringChange2Mind.org is a great, great tool to utilize if you’re going through things, because they attack this stigma on mental health with scientific research and statistics and facts. I love this sort of term that I’ve coined where it’s like, you break your arm, right? You go to the doctor and you get a cast. And with the brain being one of the biggest organs in the body, we should treat it in the exact same capacity. We should take care of it in the same exact way. We should go and get help and seek out help. The stigma [around] mental illness needs to change. Go learn about it. And then, from there, hopefully, we’ll be able to have more clubs opening up by next year. It gives people a safe space in their own high schools to be able to talk about these things, and learn about themselves.
Awesome. Let’s talk Outer Banks! You’ve been working on another season for a while now. What are you most excited for?
Oh, man. It’s been so hard to keep everything secret! Over the last couple days, we’ve dropped a couple of hints and scenes, and we’ve talked about certain things and let people know a little bit about where it’s going, without giving away too much. I think the story is more exciting. It’s more engaging. The characters that you once fell in love with, you’re going to fall in love with [them] even more. We’ve done a really good job, I think, of keeping quiet. We put a lot of work into it.
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I’m excited! In terms of your character, John B, in what ways have you been able to connect with him on the show? Are you similar?
I think the biggest difference is that John B is so impulsive. He just goes. He doesn’t think about the repercussions of his actions sometimes. And I would say I’m definitely more of a calculated person. I definitely like to look at the bigger picture and say, ‘What are the pros and cons here?’ I think I could definitely lend a helping hand to John B, with maybe not making as many dumb decisions. But hey, you know, he’s 17-years-old! At 17, I was for sure doing similar things. My teenage self and John B would probably be getting into very similar circumstances. I’d probably give 17-year-old me and John B a little conversation about staying away from getting in trouble.
What is it like working with your co-star and girlfriend Madelyn! Does your real life relationship make filming more fun?
Of course, yeah. It’s one of those things where, when you get to work with people that you love and care about—and I say this collectively as a cast—it just makes life so much easier. You always hear about drama on sets, after you learn the dirty dark secrets of what really happens, but this is one of those shows where I would justifiably say everybody on this cast is just so wonderful to work with. Madelyn and I are very transparent about our relationship and we keep our personal stuff at home. Obviously, we spent a lot of time together, so there’s definitely some that leaks through! And that’s totally fine. But it’s fun to create characters that are not ourselves, and then make different decisions than what we would probably normally make. So it’s fun; it’s a lot of fun to sort of dive into a different world.
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Since we are all about fashion, I have to ask—how would you describe your street style? Does it resemble John B’s laid back beach town vibe in any way?
For sure. My go-to is going to be some easy sneaker or a pair of flip flops, AE jeans, and, more than likely, a beat-up vintage shirt. And a beanie because I always try to keep my hair out of my face! But, beyond that, I really do dig a lot of the new fashion trends that are coming. I’ve been wearing sort of wide-legged pants quite a bit with some of the more, I guess, press stuff that I do. I love a good jacket over a simple tank. I think it always looks great! I have a wonderful stylist. His name is Avo [Yermagyan], and he is so good about introducing me to new and exciting things and we just had a lot of fun in his studio, mixing and matching pieces.
Any other exciting projects or future plans in the works?
I am traveling. I do have some things that are happening, but it’s too soon to jump the gun and start talking about them. All very exciting things to come in the future…