EXCLUSIVE! What we found on Shay Rudolph's vision board
The Baby-Sitters Club breakout star and emerging style icon is high-key relatable. (Her study tips? On point.)
Picture this: a cozy cottage-style house on the outskirts of Los Angeles, shared with your sister/best friend, a career as an actress-writer-director and a closet full of all the colorful, patterned dresses you could ever want. That's the ultimate dream of 16-year-old Shay Rudolph, aka Stacey, the stylish new girl on Netflix's The Baby-Sitters Club (coming back for a second season later this fall). Fresh off filming season two and gearing up for her junior year of high school, the effervescent performer and blossoming style icon is more determined than ever to make that fantasy a reality.
It's a summer day in Southern California when a fresh-faced Shay, wearing a cozy oversized sweater and a wide smile, chats with us to dish on all things back-to-school—from first-day outfit ideas to college plans to juggling life as a full-time student, actress and fashion It girl. "I'm starting to think about college this year, which is crazy," she exclaims. "So I really have to focus."
A *lot* has changed since we first met Shay a year ago (remember her fab October/November '21 GL cover with her BSC co-stars?). Like everyone else, Shay was sheltering at home. But unlike just about everyone else, Shay was about to be part of one of last summer's biggest streaming hits.
"I was definitely surprised," Shay says of The Baby-Sitters Club's instant icon status. Pretty much overnight, Shay and her four co-stars' Instas blew up. Tens of thousands of admirers were suddenly flooding her posts, begging her to do Lives and tagging her in fan art.
Becoming a breakout star during a time when no one could even go outside was surreal, recalls Shay. "I still haven't experienced in-person interviews or premieres or travel, so I'm looking forward to all of those cool things," she says.
Still, as a self-proclaimed ambivert (half-introvert, half-extrovert), Shay says it's been "refreshing" to ease into fame from home. "It feels like I can be a normal teenager without having my life be drastically different," she explains. "And it helps me feel connected to my fans, because we're all just normal teenagers who are growing up, learning who we are in the world."
Shay certainly has a better sense of who she is now, especially since The Baby-Sitters Club began—and the same goes for her co-stars. "We've all matured a lot since the first season, emotionally and physically," Shay reveals. "For me, I'm more confident, and I can hold my own in a group. I'm kinder to myself so I don't second-guess my natural instincts—and that helps me perform better."
And though she can't spill any on-screen secrets from the second season of BSC (trust us, we tried), Shay says we can get excited about two things: One, how much more grown up everyone seems, and two, her character Stacey's killer outfits. "They're very, very chic," Shay says with a smile.
Meanwhile, her current fashion vibe for back-to-school is what she calls "quirky peppy." Think: Plaid skirts and sweater vests or blazer-and-graphic-tee combos, paired with fun earrings, boots and platform sneakers. ("I always love being just a little bit taller," shares Shay, who's 5'4".) She's also inspired by her 17-year-old sister, Rhys, with whom she's super close.
"She's laid back, but cute and confident," Shay says of her sister's aesthetic. "Like bright colors, fun patterns. And she's a little bit old-school preppy."
Another look Shay hearts? Cottagecore. "It's so gentle and ethereal," she says, admitting that she'll spend hours thumbing past TikToks of girls living the true cottagecore lifestyle out in expansive fields, picking flowers and communing with cows.
It's not just about the clothes, Shay explains. "For people like me who are super busy but also overwhelmed and anxious, the cottagecore vibe is so peaceful and calming."
For some stress-free self-care, she'll stage her own cottagecore moment in her backyard: A picnic blanket, a pretty dress with embroidered flowers, some strawberries and a stack of books. (A major bookworm, Shay's summer reading list is 95 books long and she lists the Percy Jackson and Raven Cycle series as her faves.) "It's just nice to have the escape," she shares.
Mental health breaks like that will be even more important as Shay enters 11th grade, one of the toughest and most demanding years for anyone in high school. "There is definitely a little bit of anxiety with studying, harder classes and more intense homework this year," she admits. "I'm really going to have to pay attention and absorb all of the information."
But Shay, who prides herself on being uber organized, has a plan for managing it: "It's all about trying to make studying fun," she shares. "I get a cup of tea, put on a playlist and make it enjoyable, instead of just a task that I hate and have to check off. I set small goals and work through them bit by bit."
One of her bigger goals? To study film and creative writing at a school like NYU or UCLA. "Anything to do with the other end of the film industry," she says. "Just working with inspiring women to make really cool art."
The cottagecore dream, the creative career and the fashion collabs are all for sure on her vision board, but Shay says she's in no rush. "I'm excited, but I'm not forcing it," she says. "I'm ready for whatever comes next."
Hey, girl! Just wanted to let you know that this story originally ran in our August/September 2021 issue. Want more? Read the print mag for free *today* when you click HERE.
Credits: Photographed by Sean Scheidt. Styled by Lo VonRumpf. Hair and makeup by Brittany Gharring at Tracey Mattingly. Interview by Amanda Montell. Story edited for digital coverage by Kathleen O'Neill.