She may be the mean girl on popular Paramount+ series Wolf Pack, but in real life, Bailey Stender is full of heart.
The 23-year-old actor, comedian and singer lives to make people laugh, love and feel through her craft – a dream she’s been pursuing since her childhood in Duluth, Minnesota.
Her early years were packed with stage performances, and it wasn’t until 2018 when Bailey would land her first roles outside of theatre, in ID’s Murder in The Heartland, Disney’s iCarly and Bunk’d, Totally TV’s musical rom-com Pop Music High and now Wolf Pack, a supernatural teen drama based on the 2004 book of the same name by Edo van Belkom.
Bailey tells us all about landing the role of Phoebe Caldwell, working with icon Sarah Michelle Gellar, dealing with mental health challenges through high school and ultimately finding her own “wolf pack”:
1. Congratulations on your latest project, Wolf Pack! Can you tell us about your character and how you landed the role?
Bailey: My character’s name is Phoebe Caldwell and she is Blake’s (one of our leads) former best friend. Phoebe is a mean girl from the get-go of the series because she’s been burned, but she has a soft centre. I love her, flaws and all! I initially auditioned for this role thinking she was in only one episode, and was on the luckiest streak of my life being added to more episodes! I also didn’t know Sarah Michelle Gellar has signed on until I was on set, and I freaked. I love her!
2. The series not only features but is also produced by Sarah Michelle Gellar who so many of us grew up with as Buffy. What was it like working with such an icon of the supernatural genre?
Bailey: Sarah Michelle Gellar is an absolute gem! She is a true icon, and yet remains incredibly humble, kind and caring onset and off Sarah went out of her way to make sure everyone was comfortable and felt safe and seen. I’ve always been a fan of Buffy, and now I’m an even bigger fan of Sarah herself! Watching her work was a literal dream come true.
3. Wolf Pack is ultimately about teenagers finding their “pack ” or their people – what was your experience like in high school? Did you have a “pack”?
Bailey: I struggled with depression and other mental health issues in high school, so I thank the universe for sending me the people I would call my pack! My friends got me through the day, I love that Wolf Pack acknowledges mental health struggles in such an overt way, because so many of us suffer in silence. It’s a beautiful thing to know you’re not alone. Whatever you’re going through, I promise you can and will find people that will make you feel seen and understood. We all deserve to find our pack.
4. You’ve said in the past you’d like to take part in projects that inspire people to make the world better. Are there any current projects in the works that align with this or anyone in the industry you’d like to collaborate with to make this happen?
Bailey: One of my all-time favourite movies is Everything Everywhere All At Once, so it’s a dream of mine to work with those creators [writers/directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert]. That movie left the entire audience crying, wanting to call their family and friends and tell them they love them. It was hilarious and weird, while also being soul touching and heartfelt. I want to be a part of projects like that, that move something within people and inspire them to love harder.
I also think comedy is a beautiful escape for people, so I’m grateful to be a part of anything comedy. I believe laughter is the cure! I was lucky enough to just return to the iCarly reboot as Prunella Pitz! That episode will come out in a few months. I’m also a huge fan of Quinta Brunson and I would love to be on a show like Abbott Elementary. It’s hilarious, heartfelt, and makes you feel good about life. She is an icon and I would love to work with her some day. I’m so proud and grateful to be a part of an industry that can be such a profound escape for people. No matter what someone is going through, they can escape for a time through TV and film.
*If you or anyone you know needs support, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 in Australia or reach out to your local helpline overseas. You are never alone.
Read ‘Wolf Pack’ by Edo von Belkom before you watch the series!
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