In the fifth episode of Euphoria season two, Rue’s drug addiction reaches new heights—and leads her to break into a suburban home. She slides underneath the garage door while the inhabitants drive off; “I’m just gonna steal some shit,” Rue (Zendaya), tells their pet dog. Pulling open drawers and rifling through a jewelry box, Rue piles silver snake chains, gold bangles, and watches belonging to one of the homeowners—a blonde-haired, doe-eyed young woman played by the actress Jessie Andrews. Andrews and her boyfriend return home early—forcing Zendaya to hide under the bed until Andrews’s boyfriend finds her. Rue runs off, limping down the street while the stolen jewels jangle in her pockets.
Funnily enough, Andrews’s appearance in Sam Levinson’s hit HBO Max series is a reflection of her real-life career. Andrews, who began acting in the porn industry in the mid aughts, is also an artist, model, and jewelry designer. She runs an affordable fine jewelry brand called Bagatiba—and, she tells me during a Zoom call from her home in Los Angeles, some pieces pilfered by Rue were Bagatiba baubles.
“There’s a lot of jewelry there,” she says, laughing while she munches on her morning toast. “And obviously, it’s Bagatiba.”
Bagatiba—which Andrews started in 2012 and has become a brand loved by the likes of Kendall Jenner, Kaia Gerber, and Bella Hadid—is just one of the 30-year-old’s multiple hustles. She’s walked in numerous runway shows including Kim Shui’s New York Fashion Week spring 2022 presentation, acted alongside Timothée Chalamet in the 2017 film Hot Summer Nights, and even operates an art collective called Tase Gallery. Showing up in Euphoria is just the latest feat in a string of projects that’s teeing Andrews up for a breakout moment in Hollywood.
“I need to do all these things to keep myself out of trouble, you know?” Andrews says. “I gotta keep myself busy, and I don’t want to put too much pressure on one thing.”
Despite that, Andrews is shifting her focus to acting, she says. She snagged the role in Euphoria as many new players from season two did—by DM’ing Levinson on Instagram. “I followed Sam when he had, like, 500 followers and his page was private,” she says, noting that she came to know of him after a friend worked on his film Assassination Nation. “I was like, this guy’s gotta be cool. He’s writing these really cool scripts.” After a couple of years of conversing via direct message here and there, Andrews noted Levinson was looking to cast some fresh faces in Euphoria. “I was like, If there’s anything you’re working on that you think I’d be a good fit for, let me know. He messaged me back out of the blue and was like, ‘Hey, what are you doing tomorrow? Wanna come be in Euphoria?’”
When Andrews showed up for an evening of filming, she was given a script with very few lines in it. Levinson encouraged her and her costar—in real life, he’s a screenwriter and friend of the director—to improvise. “We were like, ‘You picked the people who are not traditional actors [to do that!],” Andrews recalls. “Sam was like, ‘You guys just ad lib together.’”
“Because Sam is the writer and director, he can easily change whatever he wants,” Andrews says of Levinson’s directing style. “And if it doesn’t work, he is like, ‘Forget it. Just say something else. If it feels right, go with it.’”
Although Andrews’s overall success is a result of her creative prowess (did we mention she’s also a woodworker?) and work ethic, she admits there was a smidge of “right place, right time and the right kind of networking,” to help along the way. Andrews, who was raised in Miami, was working retail at American Apparel after class in high school when a friend told her just how much money she made doing amateur, gonzo porn. “I was like, I don’t make that much money in two weeks,” Andrews says. As soon as she turned 18, she began splitting her time between Miami and Los Angeles, shooting porn. She picked up an agent named Mark Spiegler who booked her for “high-end, real-deal, straight sex scenes.” One of those scenes was in a movie called Portrait of a Call Girl, for which Andrews received a Best Actress award from the trade magazine Adult Video News. “It felt like, that was the top,” Andrews recalls. “After that, I thought, there’s not much more I can do here.”
Andrews branched out further into modeling, making music, DJing events, and making jewelry. Bagatiba was born after Andrews and a friend spied a bracelet in a shop window that she felt wasn’t worth the hefty price tag. “My friend was like, ‘Oh, I can make that for you so cheap.’” For almost six years, Andrews designed and hand made all the pieces, using her home as a fulfillment center. Since then, she’s begun outsourcing the work for the sustainable jewelry brand—and will continue to work on the label even while she focuses on acting and begins working with brands in Europe. Meanwhile, Andrews is auditioning for short films (including one that she’s currently working on with a close friend,) walking in a handful of New York Fashion Week shows, and taking Tase Gallery international, turning it into a traveling, pop-up gallery with shows in Paris and New York City.
“I love acting because it’s so challenging,” she says. “Not that making jewelry is easy, but I feel like I’ve created a system where it’s easy to make something, produce it, sell it, market it. It’s almost on repeat. I’m always wanting to challenge myself. So in the next couple of years, I’m going to focus on projects that do just that.”