“Remember the My Little Pony TV series?” asks Cait Fairbanks, the Emmy-nominated actress who, as a musician, goes by the stage name Ginesse. “I used to sing the episodes back to my mom, and she would be like, ‘Okay, I need to find her an outlet so she doesn’t do this to me anymore.’”
That’s how Fairbanks established her theatre roots, deciding to try the theatre girl part on for size with dreams of playing Annie. She never got to play Annie, and now never can, as she tells me, because she’s aged out of the part. Still, there were times in her life when she might've shared similar feelings with the beloved character.
“I was always kind of a loner," she admits. "I think it’s probably because I moved around so much that I didn’t really try to connect with people.”
Fairbanks was born outside of Detroit, moving to Chicago, Naperville and Tucson all before the age of nine due to her dad’s job.
“By the time we hit California, my mom was like, ‘All right, unless we go to Hawaii, we have to stop moving. This is the last stop,” she says, joking about their nomadic upbringing.
Does she still shut people out as a young adult?
“No, not as much now," says the 25-year-old actress and singer. "I think I just talked my way out of being shy. I mean, I’m definitely still pretty introspective at first, but once you crack me open, I literally do not shut up.”
As a teen, Fairbanks appeared in shows like Two and a Half Men, The Middle and CSI: NY, but she rose to fame as Tessa Porter in The Young and the Restless. The Porter role earned her an Emmy nomination and involved a romantic storyline that marked the first time the show went as far as it did with two major characters of the same gender. Still, the actress admits that finding herself by playing TV characters wasn’t an easy path.
“My mom used to drive me to auditions all the time, and I would always go for parts even when I didn't really fit the category," she explains. "It would either be the really loner girl or the really popular girl, and I would always compare myself to everyone else. I think everyone does this, especially now, with social media. Everyone looks the same and yet so different at the same time. It's not that I was jealous—I just always wanted to be something else. I was like, ‘Oh, I want to be like this, or I want to be like that.’ But a lot of the people I thought were so cool were just being themselves. So my mom always said to me, ‘Hey, don't focus on what other people are doing, just follow your own path because that's the most interesting path you have.’ She would always tell me it’s all just noise because I was obsessed with being thin or being the best, but there is no thinnest or best.”
That’s how her premiere song "Noise" came to exist, due to her mom’s advice that shaped her entire path.
When asked if she's been able to turn down the outside noise, she admits, “Well, I mean, it still happens all the time, obviously. Self awareness sometimes is pretty useless. But now that I know when I'm getting into that zone, I'm like, ‘Okay, I'm just focusing on the right things.’ So now, I try not to even think about my character. It's just trying to organically live as much as I can. And any time I'm in that zone, it usually just means that something's missing with me.”
How does she accomplish this? Fairbanks continues, "I think it's usually being present, and I know that sounds so cliché. If I actually take a second to look at my surroundings, I remind myself how special it is, if that makes any sense. And when I'm the most depressed, or the most anxious, I'm the most attached to social media, I find.”
As far as times when her mood is low, Fairbanks says, “Anytime I’m going through a breakup or any bout of sadness, I feel like I’m just on my phone constantly or I’m online shopping constantly. I’ll wake up, and I’ll have gifts from Amazon for myself that I don’t remember buying because red wine was like, ‘Let’s go on Amazon!’ I’m like my own Secret Santa sometimes. But yeah, that’s when I really have to check in with myself. I’m like, ‘Okay, what’s really going on? Why are you diving outside of yourself for so many things?'”
It’s this self awareness that may have kept her afloat.
“I just started going to therapy, actually, three or four months ago, and it’s honestly been the best journey," she confesses. "I was so scared to start, but honestly, it’s completely saved my life, and also my dog’s, 100 percent.”
Fairbanks’ mutt Mille is a mostly black lab, and she adopted her when she was still living in New York.
She says of their meeting: “I kind of just walked in and she was walking in and then we just locked eyes and I was like, ‘Well, you’re mine now.’”
When it comes to being creative and relaxing, Fairbanks sometimes turns to cannabis, using her owl piece or taking edibles to relax at night.
“If I’m in a room, I will only smoke a little bit so that I’m creative, and it’s definitely more of a hybrid. Indicas just knock me out," she says. "I just need to calm down when my brain is hyperactive. I definitely have ADHD, so it definitely calms me down, and it’s actually easier to write when I’m calmer.”
I ask how the name "Ginesse" came to exist.
Describing her alter ego’s persona in the third person, she explains, “Ginesse is definitely an extension of myself. I kind of call it the hyper concentrated version of Cait. So it’s like Cait has so many gray areas and in-betweens. So all of the anxieties or all the depression or all the emotions that I have, I concentrate them into that. And then Cait can just live her life.”
She then goes one step further: “The actual me can take a backseat and just observe.”
With two prominent personas in her life now, which does she trust more?
“It’s easier for me to dissect emotions when I’m writing music," she answers. "So I guess I emotionally trust myself as a writer more because, as a person, I'm just trying to digest everything. But Ginesse is the version that actually has digested it and is telling the story the best way she can.”
Inspiration is everywhere, she adds: “I have a thought and I want to write it down. You never know when something’s gonna make your brain feel warm and tingly.”
Fairbanks is excited about being new to the music industry, categorizing her overall sound first as Fiona Apple meets the computer and then constantly evolving from there. She praises female songwriters like Regina Spektor and the Frou Frou as being instrumental inspirations while growing up.
“I feel like what I’ve learned so far is you just have to find your team that you trust and then you have to hold onto them. It’s just finding ones that you can trust to tell the same story as you want to because many will try to bend the image of what you’re going for. You have to find people who are on the same page, and I’m just so freshly in it,” she says.
When asked to share something new and exciting in her life, Fairbanks lets out an "oh my god" and recalls her latest fashion find.
“This is not super exciting, but it was exciting for me,” she gushes. I can hear her readjust in her car seat, the place where she’s taking this call, as she prepares to explain. “So, I really wanted to find a pastel suit for this music video I was filming, and I found one on Fashion Nova, and I found a seamstress. Like a grown up, I went and found a seamstress, and then she fixed the suit for me. I was like, ‘Damn, is this what being a grown up is like?’”
I laugh at her pride from this one small moment. Does she consider herself a grown up at other times?
“Fuck no. I feel like a lost baby running through the world, but I’m trying.”
Everyone is, I assure her.
“Yeah. We’re all just overgrown babies.”
The uncertainty that's exciting for some people can freak others out, yet Fairbanks says she's trying to find the balance.
“You know what? It can get overwhelming, but I’m mainly just excited to keep moving forward,” she says, her voice steady and confident. “I just try to live second by second, but it can get overwhelming if you’re thinking too much about what’s going [on] in the future. But yeah, I’m just more excited about everything or I’m just comforted by the fact that I will always find my way through, no matter what.”