"The cast took me in as family from the very first second," the actress, who plays Cleo, tells HelloGiggles.

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Carlacia Grant outer banks
Credit: Elaine Siemek

In our new WFH reality, we all crave an excuse to dress up every now and then—including celebs. And what better time to do it than a photoshoot with HelloGiggles? In Dressing Up With HG, stars pick from a handful of outfit-based prompts, reach into their closets, and reveal their best cute, silly, or throwback looks on camera, all captured on Polaroid film.

Aside from its action-packed plot, beautiful scenery, and juicy relationship dynamics, the true secret sauce of Netflix's Outer Banks is the cast's palpable chemistry. The teen drama, which premiered in April 2020, follows a brave (if not idiotically rebellious) gang of hooligans, "the Pogues," searching for lost treasure on the coast of North Carolina. And just like their onscreen counterparts, the real-life "Pogues" appear to be as tight-knit as casts come.

But just because they had a full season of hangouts under their belt (heavily documented via Instagram) doesn't mean the gang didn't welcome new cast members with open arms for Season 2 of the hit show (which dropped last July). Case in point: Carlacia Grant, who joined the crew as the badass Bahamian Cleo, calls fitting into the group at the start of the show's sophomore season "effortless."

"The cast took me in as family from the very first second I arrived," Grant, 30, tells HelloGiggles over a recent phone call. "I think the chemistry really spoke in the chemistry read that we all had together; we clicked instantly. Working together and personality-wise, we just blended effortlessly."

Carlacia Grant outer banks
Credit: Elaine Siemek

Since it's chart-topping premiere, Outer Banks has garnered a cult following of teens and 20-somethings; not only did fans eagerly binge the show (viewers watched 2.1 billion minutes of OBX by its second week on Netflix), but the stars' Instagrams promptly blew up, too, thanks to the goofy BTS photos and videos they fed to fans like candy. Grant's followers alone went from 40K to 212K in just two days post-premiere (she's now at 856K). And, according to Grant, these silly snapshots honestly reflect the lively atmosphere on set.

"Being in Barbados was one the best experiences of my life," she continues. "Netflix booked an entire hotel only for us, so we were really able to bond as people. It was kind of like boarding school, where we all lived together in this giant hotel; we had sleepovers and we would go to the pool and really bond with each other. We'll take those memories with us for a lifetime."

carlacia grant outer banks
Credit: Elaine Siemek

But filming the island mystery wasn't all fun and games—as anyone who has seen the show can attest: It's intense. Every character seems to wind up in a fight scene in Outer Banks Season 2—jumping off of boats, throwing punches, and dodging literal bullets left and right. And although Grant admits she had a stunt double for "the really dangerous moments," she reveals that she acted out "75%" of her character's action-packed scenes—some of which (including her and Pope's ship showdown) "took a month to choreograph."

"I had a trainer who got me in shape for the physicality of the character, which really helped," Grant says. "The show is a lot of cardio: running, swimming, everything in between. [The cast] would all pass each other in the gym and we'd do some workouts together. That helped with being able to deal with the demand of the show."

Carlacia grant outer banks
Credit: Elaine Siemek

In addition to honing in on the athletic abilities of Cleo, Grant also spent weeks fine-tuning her character's voice, a thick West Indies accent. "I had a dialect coach that worked with me perfecting Cleo's accent," Grant explains. "I went on YouTube and watched a bunch of videos of people in the Bahamas and the Trinidads just looking at their everyday life, and spoke with the creators about Cleo's upbringing."

Calling Cleo a badass is an understatement, but the fearless islander isn't a one-dimensional character. Throughout the season, she slowly shifts from villain to loyal ally to the Pogues—and fans have gravitated toward her bold, takes-no-prisoners energy.

"I never thought people were going to like Cleo the way they do," Grant admits. "She's such a badass character and doesn't give a heck about what anyone thinks. I didn't know if it was going to be too much, so I've been overwhelmed by the love. I'm really proud of that character; I love that she represents the West Indies and that she doesn't care and people love her for that."

carlacia grant outer banks
Credit: Elaine Siemek

When it comes to her personality IRL, Grant says she shares Cleo's go-getter attitude—but the brave islander still inspires her daily. "Cleo and I have a lot in common as far as going after what we want and not backing down when we're really passionate about something," Grant explains. "Obviously, playing a character like Cleo, you can't not be affected in everyday life. So now, I think, 'What would Cleo do?'"

Special thanks to Polaroid for providing cameras and film.
Photo Editor: Jasmine Purdie
Designer: Sarah Maiden