BRITNE OLDFORD: Limitless
As one of our in-house muses, we’ve been obsessing over Britne Oldford since her professional acting debut on MTV’s “Skins”. So why don’t we know anything about her? Who is she and what has she been up to? Britne bares all…
It could be argued that Britne Oldford has become a face of the new generation, having played the role of Cadie, aka the angst-ridden high school pusher man on MTV’s now defunct show Skins. As Cadie, and in real life, Britne is so honestly raw, holding-no-punches kind of real, with an inspiringly brazen attitude, yet soft-spoken approach that will always find a way to be heard by any means. To be clear, the barely out-of-her-teens actress, who hails from Toronto, Canada, is by no means disrespectful. In fact, she’s the kind of girl that you’d want your brother to bring home to mama. Like so much of the talent blowing up these days from her hometown, she’s just totally universal and utterly relatable. But one thing Britne is not, is limited.
I heard about you and food….
Oh my god, I love food… More than a lot of things.
Your mom asked me to ask you about herbs and spices. So please, do tell… [Laughs]
Well first off, I love food, very much so, like from an extremely young age. There are pictures of me from when I was two years old at a table, just sitting there alone eating rice. [Laughs] By myself, just enjoying myself, and I remember again when I was around that age, I would always be given fish. Like every week, I’d have this one fish and I’d just sit there with my little hands eating it… it was so good! Anyway, I love spices and I love foods that have a lot of spices. Like Jamaican food is one of my favorite kinds of food—Indian, Thai, Soul food, so good. And I’ll eat nearly anything, I’ll try anything once.
So after high school was there really potential for you to go to culinary school instead of pursuing drama? Like for real….
I was definitely thinking about it because when I was 12, I was like, “Okay, that’s what I’m doing. I’m going to be a chef.” Like, “That’s it. Done.” And then in 8th grade, I took Drama [as my] major. I went to an art school from grade 4 through 8 and then again in high school. You can pick a major every year starting in 5th grade, and so I chose Drama. I got into the school for Dance and Visuals Arts, and I fell in love. I got the bug, immediately.
That’s the thing; I’d say that most people don’t know what they’re going to do until much later. But you’ve always felt it to a certain extent.
Yeah. I was in the Arts Intensive program at my high school. There are 2,200 students, 500 of which are in the Arts program, which is Drama, Dance, Visual Arts, Screen Arts and music.
So what did you have to do to audition to get into the school?
To audition to get into the school, you had a monologue that you needed to prepare for the panel, which were the Drama teachers at that school. And there was a group workshop that you did first and then everyone went in and did their monologue. Then I found out that I got in—it’s the Claude Watson program. Claude Watson School of the Arts was the middle school and junior high I went to, and the Claude Watson program was in high school. So yeah, I thought I’d be doing theater living in a backrow apartment in Toronto for like five years [Laughs], until I got enough money to… god know’s what. And then I got extremely lucky with Skins and ended up being able to move to New York because I was making connections last year, around this time. I figured, “You know what, Brit, if you’re going to do it, if you’re going to make the jump, then you need to do it now, because this is the only time you can do this.
So I made sure I saved enough money so that I could live decently here.
Decent is a good word. [Laughs]
[Laughs] Yeah! I’m here for as much time as needed to really get settled. I moved in March and I started going on generals almost immediately, meeting casting directors and going on auditions since, I guess, April.
Wait before you delve into that… do you remember what your monologue was?
Oh gosh. I don’t remember what play it was from, but I remember the content of the monologue. It was about a girl, who I think was at camp and witnessed another girl being bullied by one of the like, head chiquitas. She [My character] was describing what happened to the younger girl who was being bullied. I think it was quite graphic actually.
Do you have a need for the extreme, by any chance?
I do. [Laughs] I definitely do.
[Laughs] I was going to say, because it seems like it gravitates to you…
Yeah, I definitely love pushing boundaries and I have was always pushed myself extremely far and extremely hard because I’ve always loved to see how far I can go and like how, for Skins, or just any role that I’ve done in theater mostly, how deep I can get into the character. And sometimes it’s just completely overwhelming and I’m overcome by it. It can be hard sometimes because of how emotional you can get, but it’s worth it. I feel so fulfilled once I feel like I can really capture the character….As long as I’m proud of what I’ve done, I’m happy.
Do you come from a creative family?
Yes, I do. Well, my brother was a Drama major at the same high school as well, so when I was a freshman, he was a senior. He and I are extremely close and he was also in a band. My mom, she used to be a model and she’s done some acting. She’s been in the business for a really long time and she knows the ropes. [Laughs] She taught me how to walk [catwalk] when I was like 8! I was like, “Hey, mom, can you teach how to walk like a model?” And there’s always been music in the house, like I grew up on Celtic Gospel, Classic Rock, Classical music— a lot of that in the house—and then a lot of Jazz. Then I sort of took those and explored more. I got into Heavy Metal actually for like a while; Pop, Rap, Hip-Hop, R&B, Electronic music, Dubstep—just all of it. I love it all.
How did Celtic Gospel get into the picture?
My mom is British, French and Irish Canadian, and she’s always loved Celtic music. She would just play it all the time. It was something that I was very used to and something that I loved listening to because it reminded me of the times that I’d be sitting in the car, my mom driving around during the summer time. I still listen to a lot of it, even though I’m not from Ireland, I feel like I have a close connection to my ethnicities and where my ancestors are from. And Gospel is just so feel-good and very powerful.
I feel like Cadie is so opposite of what Gospel is. [Laughs]
I know, right. [Laughs]
Do you think there are any similarities between you and her?
I’d like to say that I’m a fairly confident person, especially now, even though I’m so young and I’m like in a new place trying to do this crazy thing on my own (not completely on my own, I have tons of support from my loved ones), but I think the similarities between Cadie and I will definitely have to be like when I was younger. I’m mixed, so back then I had a lot of difficulties, in elementary school trying to pin down who I was, or more so what I was because I wasn’t Black, but I wasn’t White, even though I have a few other things mixed in there. Like I’d see my mom and be like, “Oh my gosh, you’re so beautiful.” When I’d look at myself in the mirror, I’d imagine myself as a blonde green-eyed girl, but when I looked in the mirror and saw me, I was a bit confused. So I was like, what am I? What’s going on? Everybody would tease me all the time and be like, “Oh yeah, you’re adopted!” I’d get really upset. I mean, we joked around about it but it bothered me, I guess, to an extent. There weren’t really any other mixed kids that I knew except my brother and I. Cadie, I feel, like didn’t know who she was for a while, but luckily, that passed very soon for me when I realized it’s not what I am or who I am, it’s just me being me.
I also think there is a deep-seated insecurity with Cadie. Especially being an artist, there are definitely points where I feel so insecure and so alone. And I think that every single artistic person out there feels the same way, when you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. You feel that what you’re doing is wrong and that you should just get a 9-5 job, you know. But then you realize that this is what you were meant to do and you have to do this, because if I don’t, I won’t be satisfied with myself or my life and I’m going to regret it. And I don’t want to live with any regrets. And I feel that Cadie kind of found her way to that epiphany, at least by the last episode.
In between then… [Laughs]
She had a little bit of trouble….[Laughs]
Just a little bit. [Laughs] She was my favorite character because you made her so real and accessible. But were you concerned at all with some of the shit she did and how it would be perceived? With the show and with your character specifically?
Personally, I knew there would be controversy, but I wasn’t too worried about it because I knew how hard all of us worked, everyone from the cast and crew and Brian Elsley sort of being the father figure that we all looked up to. And to be honest, I didn’t really care because I thought you know what, we’ve made something that we are very proud of. It’s going to go out there and people are going to react to it the way that they are going to, but I know it was done tastefully and professionally. We were the ones on set and we knew how it all worked, so I wasn’t too concerned, for myself at least. But being the maternal person that I am, [laughs] I was concerned about everyone else in the cast and hoping that everyone would take everything with stride, which they did.
But with the character Cadie specifically, it made me very happy that there would be a character that would be watched by millions, that was multi-racial or mixed, because I feel like, especially in America, if you’re part Asian, you’re considered to be Asian. If you are part Black, you’re considered to be Black, which is fine. But I remember the first few times I came down here from Toronto and I was just Black, which is not the case in Toronto. So I’m sure there has to got to be a few lost souls trying to find themselves, who don’t feel comfortable expressing all of themselves because of that. And I thought it was really cool to have a character to have a White mom and a Black dad, even though she wasn’t going through a lot [with regards to that specifically]. That’s what was really cool about the show; the fact that everyone could find something or someone to relate to with someone on the show.
Was your high school anything like that?
I definitely know people who have dabbled with drugs and had very similar experiences to some of the characters on the show. And I think everybody has, even if they don’t know it, they’ve crossed someone’s path that’s been in the same shoes with one or more characters on the show.
Then you started pushing boundaries again after Skins with Dark Room, where you play a psychotic chick. I’m like, what’s going on with you and these roles?! [Laughs]
[Laughs] Well, she’s not exactly psychotic. There was an accident and for whatever reason she had to do this service by being in this place for a period of time, because of what had happened (She did something with driving a car…). Yeah I’m really anticipating it coming out and to see it, ’cause it’s kind of like a horror thriller and I think that’s really fun. I mean [after] the first day at work, I lost my voice the next day, from all the screaming. Luckily, I didn’t have to work that day. And yeah, I do seem to be prone to getting these roles, so far, in my film career. [Laughs] But hey, they’re interesting.
Follow Britne Oldford on Twitter, @BritneOldford
Images of Britne Oldford were shot exclusively for STARK on location in Brooklyn at Free Candy.
Photos by Ashley Reid, Fashion by Nasrin Jean-Baptiste, Makeup & Hair by Tai Lotson.