GRUMPY MAGAZINE - Sophie Skelton (Solo Edition)

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ABOUT Grumpy Magazine is an international digital and print publication founded and curated by Jasmine Perrier. Selfpublished from France since 2016, we aim at covering the cultural landscape across the world and sharing a genuine vision of life to get you out of your grumpy mood. More than just a magazine, we are interested in aesthetically pleasing a modern take on traditional staples and thus offering a unique book capturing thoughtful stories and stimulating sceneries. This standalone feature is taken from Grumpy Magazine’s IN CONVERSATION series and exclusively available as a solo story featuring one talent and 20+ pages of interview and photos.

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COVER | Sophie Skelton wears David Koma dress | Hirotaka earrings | Anne Sisteron ring

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TEAM & CONTRIBUTORS Jasmine Perrier at Studio J•T•P Publisher | Editor-in-chief | Producer | Writer | Designer Contributors Katherine McNamara | Emma Craft | Sarah Slutsky | William Scott | Seiji | Lidia Moore | Chey Kline | Carmen DeCristo | Carlee Princell

SPECIAL THANKS BACK COVER | Sophie Skelton wears Claudia Li dress | Stylist’s own top | Hirotaka earrings | Anne Sisteron ring | Nickho Rey bracelet

Rogers & Cowan PMK | The Lede Company | The Canvas Agency The Wall Group | Forward Artists | KEZCO Studio | Joe Gray

BLOUSE & SKIRT Valentino BRA Kiki de Montparnasse EARRINGS Nickho Rey RING Anne Sisteron


nce upon a swan

Ahead of the Outlander season 6 finale, Sophie Skelton connected from Scotland — where she was back to start filming season 7 — to talk to fellow actor Katherine McNamara about life after her big break, view similarities between their journeys, and share some words of wisdom.


INTERVIEW BY Katherine McNamara PHOTOGRAPHY BY Emma Craft at The Canvas Agency STYLING BY Sarah Slutsky at The Wall Group SET DESIGN BY Lidia Moore MAKEUP BY William Scott at The Wall Group HAIR BY Seiji at Forward Artists PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT Carmen DeCristo STYLIST ASSISTANT Carlee Princell SET ASSISTANT Chey Kline LOCATION KEZCO Studio PRODUCTION BY Jasmine Perrier at Studio J•T•P




Sophie Skelton 06


t’s been six years since Sophie Skelton was announced as Brianna —Bree— in Outlander. Since joining Starz’s hit fantasy period drama in the second

season, her nuanced performance in the television adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling novels captivated audiences. As the British actress told her friend Katherine McNamara, who most likely understands that feeling better than anyone, being part of a worldwide phenomenon and playing the daughter of one of the most beloved TV couples will always come with challenges. However, with Sophie’s naturally poised and laid-back disposition, it makes sense that she keeps embracing her fiery and multifaceted character without too much intimidation. “People love or hate [Brianna], or love to hate her. I’ve always really liked her.” This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.




All my studies were directed toward being a surgeon because that was what I wanted to do. But then, I got jobs, deferred my uni place, and after three years, I called the university and went, “I don’t think I’m coming.” By that time, I was doing Outlander.

’’ SOPHIE SKELTON: Hey! How are you doing?

green room, we ended up chatting, and we stayed in touch. But like you said, I think it’s quite rare in this industry that people do stay in touch when they say they will, especially during a pandemic [laughs].

KATHERINE MCNAMARA: I’m good, how are you? SS: Good!

KM: Absolutely. My first impression of you was, ‘‘Wow, this woman is so lovely, kind, and genuine,’’ and we clicked instantly. I was so happy to find another like-minded individual that I hung on to you.

KM: You look so beautiful. SS: I miss you. Where are you? KM: I’m in Santa Fe right now. I’m shooting that [Walker: Independence] pilot, it’s fun. You guys are all back up and running too, right?

SS: Agreed, it’s not always easy to find [laughs].

SS: Yeah, we are back in sunny Scotland. I say sunny because there is a blue sky today, for once [laughs].

KM: But you were the highlight of my pandemic at the very beginning because we were both stuck in LA.

KM: Well, Sophie, it is my absolute honor to be here with Grumpy interviewing you today, because I adore you and I’m a huge fan. It’s so funny in this industry how friendships spring up out of the smallest interactions. I’ve been trying to remember the first time we met, and I think it was at that [Heroes Dutch] Comic-Con.

SS: I remember you baking these little cookies and dropping them on my doorstep. And we had our little walks around the hills. KM: It was nearly two years ago. We are starting to get back to normal, but let’s take it back to the pre-pandemic [period]. I didn’t know that you started in ballet, and performing has been in your life since you were a kid. So, tell me about that and

SS: It was in Holland. We were in the big


DRESS Julie de Libran EARRINGS Nickho Rey NECKLACE & RING Anne Sisteron SHOES Vince Camuto




KM: I think that’s another thing that you and I have always connected on. We do have other interests outside of the arts. You were almost a surgeon, I was almost an economist. It’s interesting how those things factor into the jobs that we do. For example, Bree is an engineer. It almost helps to have these other influences. Is that something you would ever consider studying or doing?

growing up in Woodford near Manchester. Where did that spark come from? SS: I guess I have to thank my parents. They took me to ballet school when I was two or three, and I absolutely hated it [laughs]. I was such a little tomboy because I’ve got two older brothers. So, I was against anything pink or girly. And my ballet teacher for years would tell this story about this kid who would come to class every Saturday, sit, and refuse to join in. It was only as I was leaving when I was about 20, that she said, ‘‘Oh, this story is actually about you.’’ In the end, I used to go there until I did all of the exams. So, I started on stage doing ballet shows [before doing] musical theater and plays. Funnily enough, for my very first TV experience, I was doing a play [Oliver!] at the Palace Theatre as one of the lead dancers. And Ricky Hatton, who is a boxer, had this mystery guest section of Question of Sport. We had to re-choreograph the whole dance around him. I have this on VHS [laughs]. Then, the acting thing came from my love for the stage. I do really miss it, but film and TV feel so much more real to me because you get immersed in this experience.

SS: Totally. Actually, in lockdown, I started a neuroscience module at Harvard which is part of the degree, so I want to keep building it up. But like you said, it’s one thing we connected on, and I think it’s really healthy to have other interests. Our industry can be so immersive and it’s sometimes to the detriment of people. How can we act like different people when we don’t have different life experiences, don’t experience different interests, and don’t immerse ourselves in different worlds? I guess that’s why we both clicked. KM: And we both love traveling and coffee [laughs]. SS: Even in lockdown, when it was freezing outside, we were determined to have this iced coffee.

KM: That makes sense. Especially in these things you’ve been doing, you are transported to another world and time. It’s entirely immersive.

KM: Absolutely [laughs]. That’s something I’ve always really admired and loved about you — you’ve always made time for those personal relationships and outside influences. How has your view of being an actor evolved over the years?

SS: You can’t think of anything else, can you? With dance, you have to think about what every tiny part of your body is doing. It’s very therapeutic in that way.

SS: I don’t know how you found it, but I think you put a lot of pressure on yourself initially, don’t you? When you are younger, you have this thing of, ‘‘I need to do it this way and this is how I take this to set.’’ And [at one point], you have the confidence in yourself to play with things, go with your gut, and see if it works. You try different things and it doesn’t feel like it matters if you fail. You can play a role in two completely different ways and both could be right. Now, I just love having that confidence. It’s important in this industry to believe in yourself in terms of doing the job, but not to let that override anything else.

KM: When you started acting professionally, did you know what you were getting into? Was it what you expected it to be? SS: No, it happened very organically. I think I was 13 or 14 when someone who was starting to be an agent wanted to look after me. Then, I was going to classes and auditions, and he left and went to a bigger agency. It snowballed in that way, and I became more passionate about it. All my studies were directed toward being a surgeon because that was what I wanted to do. But then, I got jobs, deferred my uni place, and after three years, I called the university and went, ‘‘I don’t think I’m coming.’’ [Laughs] By that time, I was doing Outlander.

KM: That’s another element of playing the daughter of one of the most iconic TV



couples. You’re doing that on Outlander, I did something similar on Arrow. We have these two fantastic actors who have created this relationship for years. And then, people like us have to come in and carry that on, they are the physical manifestation of this thing that so many people love. How has Outlander defined this chapter of your life? Talk to me about when you first read Brianna [Bree]. What that process was for you?

again, comes with confidence. We are doing season 7 now, so I think we all know each other’s characters enough to be able to automatically know what we’re gonna do. We are all very good friends off-screen. And you’re friends with most of the cast [laughs]. I feel like we all think about you being on the show, and then I’m like, ‘‘Oh no, that’s not how we know each other.’’ KM: [Laughs] I know, it’s such a strange world — the world of social media and conventions. We all ended up knowing each other. It’s funny, this pilot that I’m doing is set in the 1870s in Texas. Maybe, eventually, our characters will slowly make their way to each other.

SS: It adds a lot of layers of pressure, doesn’t it? I never wanted to say what I took from [Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan’s] performances because I must have watched season 1 on repeat so many times to try and take a lot of Claire and Jamie’s mannerisms, and put it into Bree. When I first auditioned, I called the books in from my little bookstore and read all of Brianna’s bits — she’s got a great sense of humor and she is very witty. People love or hate her, or love to hate her. I’ve always really liked her. I think one of the challenges was trying to make her a little more likable at times. Because the show and these characters are so loved, people sometimes find the bad qualities hard to swallow. But it’s been so fun and a once-in-a-lifetime challenge to be on something for so long, and see how she has evolved as a character, going from this 16-year-old girl to being now this mother and wife. Now, Brianna is written more similarly to how I play her.

SS: Exactly. We will get there. KM: But it’s really incredible that you’ve had Outlander for so long. After working on a show of this magnitude for so many years, are you still as excited to go back to set every day? It seems as though everyone is excited after the long wait. SS: That definitely helps, and we are like a little work family by now. This year, we had our press tour just before we started shooting [season 7], and it was this good burst of energy we all needed. We film in the Highlands, and people in Scotland don’t hugely watch the show. They are aware of it, but it’s only once we step out of our long shoots and go out into the big wild world that we’re like, ‘‘Oh, people actually watch this.’’ [Laughs] It’s really nice and it makes you think, ‘‘Ok, this is why we get to work, people love this, let’s do it justice and keep going.’’ I think what’s great about Outlander is that the story is so rich and there is so much in there to play with, and the writers trust us as actors enough to let us see where we take things. So, it’s definitely always still fun to go back to work. The pandemic helped in a way because we felt so grateful to be able to be shooting in lockdown. I will never complain about work again [laughs].

KM: It’s such an iconic piece as well and that’s the magic of television. As the series continues, the characters and their relationships have their own history that jumps off the page, and it becomes a blend of you and the writing. Clearly, you guys as a cast and crew get on so well and have so much fun together. Is there a collaborative process you’ve built together over the years? SS: I think we are very lucky. Outlander is very void of ego. It’s always been very collaborative in terms of being able to talk about scenes, and nobody is trying to selfishly lead it in that direction. Let’s say, for example, Caitriona [Balfe] and I have a scene, and I’d be like, ‘‘Look, this feels weird to me, this isn’t working in this.’’ It’s really nice to have that dialogue where she would then be like, ‘‘Ok, what can I do to help?’’ We are all helping each other, which

KM: It’s wonderful. I know the fandom is very excited as well. Do you pay attention to any of the speculations or fan theories? SS: There is a lot of incestuous [laughs]. It’s that time period where it’s all a little


DRESS David Koma EARRINGS Hirotaka RING Anne Sisteron



hazy in a way. Technically, I think Roger and Brianna are distantly related. I used to read a lot of the opinions on social media, but I really backed away from that because you have a hundred of good comments, but you just hold on to that bad one. And sometimes, you find yourself changing your performance for that one person, but it’s too messy and silly. It won’t help you do the best work.

choice.’’ That’s why my parents gave me a year, and luckily, that year worked. So, I think it’s good my family keeps me very grounded because they are not starstruck people. They have actually started to watch the show now, out of support, which has some awkward moments, I’m not gonna lie [laughs]. I really put all my eggs in one basket with acting. I didn’t give myself a plan B. I worked at a store until 11PM to get the money to get trained and go to auditions. In that way, that’s very humbling. You’ve always got to remember those roots. And then, I think just working on Outlander [keeps me grounded].

KM: Because you’ve been playing this character for such a long time now, you’ve grown with her so much. All the women on Outlander are such incredibly relevant characters to today’s society, although they exist in another time and another place. Tell me what that’s like shooting a character in a time that is not ours, but that has so many parallels to women in today’s society.

KM: It seems like it’s a very good, positive environment, and hard work, but fun work. That can be the most rewarding thing, especially for someone like you who has worked so hard to get where you are today.

SS: That’s been one of the most fun things. Brianna is an engineer who was born in the 1940s, and by the time she is in the university, it’s the 1960s. She was probably one of two women at MIT studying engineering at that time. Actually, my best friend is an engineer and there are such connotations with female engineers. I think it’s so healthy to see on-screen that spectrum being completely broadened and the stereotypes being completely flipped on the head. That’s why I love what Brianna and Claire do in Outlander. In this [season], where the American Revolution is happening, they are really trying to change ways discreetly as modern women for that time. But there is also the way we fought for female characters’ relationships on the show. It doesn’t have to be combative, we don’t have to be jealous over a boy, women can work together and lift each other up. That’s such an important thing to put out there.

SS: Yeah, and often in our industry, people forget it’s a job. I think it’s important to remember we’re not saving lives, we provide entertainment. Let’s just go to work, work hard, but have fun without getting too intense with it. It can be quite a bitty industry and it’s good to just collaborate, work together, and make the best thing you can in the most fun way. KM: Exactly. We get to go to work and play dress-up for a living, let’s keep it fun. What about the next phase of your journey? Where are you hoping that the next chapter of your life takes you? SS: I think when you’ve been on a show for a while, it’s nice to have a year where you just do little bits here and there. I get bored very easily [laughs], so maybe somewhere hot, on a desert island. But I think I’d like to do some action stuff, and I’d definitely like to do some things that introduce the ballet roots that I have. It would be fun to train and work at the same time.

KM: Female friendships in this industry and in life are very important. But since you’ve been a part of this industry for so long, you’ve had your big break and you’ve been doing Outlander, how do you still stay grounded?

KM: Keep your mind and your body active. Is there any other particular career or life goal that you’ve always had in mind, or another kind of story that you’d like to tell?

SS: I’m very lucky that my family isn’t really into or in the industry at all [laughs]. Because I wanted to be a surgeon, when I said I was going to go into acting, it was like, ‘‘I’m not sure it’s the most stable

SS: In terms of stories to tell, I would love to do a biopic and play a real person. Like I said, I miss studying, immersing myself



Be good people and champion your female friends instead of making it competitive.


in papers and research, and finding out everything I can about something. So, I’d love to be able to do that and really concentrate on one person.

bit, and to remember to enjoy life outside of work, which is hypocritical given what I’ve just said before. But when I was younger, I did forget that part. Now, I think it’s ok to be like, ‘‘You know what? Trust yourself enough to know that you can do it without that preparation you feel you need to do. Put the work in, but don’t stress too much.’’ In terms of what to say to other people, I do find it hard personally to make a lot of female actor friends, because the industry can be quite competitive, and often, actresses don’t tend to be that good and genuine friends. That’s why when they mentioned you about this interview, I was like, ‘‘Yeah, that would be fun.’’ So, I would just say, ‘‘Be good people and champion your female friends instead of making it competitive.’’

KM: Ok, here is another question for you. If Sophie Skelton and Katherine McNamara had to act together, what would the dream script be? Because I would love to work with you. We would have too much fun! SS: It would be so fun. I feel like I would have to dye my hair blond, and we could be almost twins. KM: I love it. SS: Well, I’m not a writer [laughs]. KM: Let’s do a Thelma and Louise reboot and have fun the entire film. Because that’s what we do anyway.

KM: It’s easier and makes the world a better place. Well, Sophie my dear, you certainly make the world a much better place. I just adore you and I miss you so much.

SS: Yeah, and we both like driving. SS: I know, I miss you. You always have a room here [in Scotland], and Loka is here.

KM: It would be grand. Let’s just have a roadtrip.

KM: He is huge now, right? SS: Here we go, a roadtrip. SS: Yeah, he is 66kg. KM: Is there any other message you would like to say out there to anyone reading this interview, any advice you would like to give to your younger self?

KM: Holy moly! Well, be well, give everyone my love. SS: Love you to pieces, and good luck with the shoot!

SS: I would probably tell myself to relax a








DRESS Claudia Li TOP Stylist’s own EARRINGS Hirotaka RING Anne Sisteron BRACELET Nickho Rey


I think it’s important to remember we’re not saving lives, we provide entertainment. Let’s just go to work, work hard, but have fun without getting too intense with it. It can be quite a bitty industry and it’s good to just collaborate, work together, and make the best thing you can in the most fun way.