Katherine Bailess Discusses New Season of 'Hit the Floor' & Her Beautiful Friendship With Logan Browning (Exclusive Q&A)

Katherine Bailess will captivate you with her southern charm. She's kind, polite, witty, and can go on for hours raving about her passionate and loyal BFF, Logan Browning.

The Mississippi-born star, who many of us (or maybe just me?) came to know and love as Erica Marsh on One Tree Hill all those years ago, is back as Kyle on the new season of Hit the Floor. The series, which originally aired on VH1, is making its return after a two-year hiatus and has found a new home on BET. In case you weren't already a fan, Hit the Floor follows the Los Angeles Devil Girls, a premiere dance squad for the Los Angeles Devils, as they navigate a world where fame, money and power usually equates to plenty of drama.

Her Campus sat down with Bailess to get the scoop on Hit the Floor's fourth season, where we'll find her character, her days on One Tree Hill (including details around the co-star she dated!), her sister-like friendship with Dear White People's Logan Browning (who used to play a Devil Girl herself in previous seasons), and more.  

Her Campus: Hit the Floor is coming back after going on a two-year hiatus, which is kind of insane. Did you ever think that maybe it would never come back at all? What were your thoughts?

Kat Bailess: Oh, for sure! It’s kind of a funny story: people recognize me, and they’re like, “Oh my gosh, I love you on the show! Is it coming back?” This was last April. And I’m so positive, I’m always staying optimistic, and I’m usually like, “Oh, yeah, we’re just waiting!” Finally, I was like, “No, it is not coming back, but thank you for watching.” And literally, the next day—the next day!—we found out through the craze that we were getting picked up by BET. It was the craziest thing ever.

HC: Oh my gosh, you put it out into the universe! That’s what happened.

KB: I did! But I was like, “Is that the way to put it out there?” I don’t know. But the fans are really stoked. I think it’s kind of 50/50 too, because a lot of the characters aren’t coming back, like half the characters. I think they’re going to be very surprised at how good the show is and how new and fresh it is.

HC: That’s exciting, new network and everything. So what can you tell us about this season and your character Kyle?

KB: Well, after the summer special, my character is given the position of captain from Jelena. So Kyle's captain, in charge and louder than ever. Obviously, there’s never a dull moment with my character and this year is really exciting because she’s got new people on the team: Teyana Taylor and Kyndall, they’re playing London and Jamie, and obviously there’s going to be tension between the two of them—the trailers have come out, so that’s out there. And that’s pretty much all I can give away with Kyle, because there’s a lot of fun stuff happening; I just can’t say a word or I’ll get fired. [Laughs]

But I think this season is really cool. It’s really sexy, it’s got even more humor, there’s a lot of new girls, so yay!

HC: I noticed that you and Logan Browning are best friends. She’s actually going to be one of our keynote speakers at Her Conference, so we’re super excited.

KB: Oh, yay! That’s amazing!

HC: How would you describe your friendship?

KB: We literally met at the first day of dance rehearsal for the Devil Girls, and I think she was one of the last ones cast, because she actually went out for role of Ahsha and they said, “No, you’re right for Jelena,” and she went, “Okay,” and she killed it, obviously. But we instantly became friends—me, Taylour [Paige] and Logan. We were inseparable, obviously, and we were even inseparable after the pilot, because we were just like, “You know what? No matter what happens, we’ve already created this friendship.” And Logan is from the South, too, so we had a lot in common.

I always tell her she's my hero, because she wasn’t a trained dancer like the rest of us, and she went to class every single day for eight months and became a phenomenal dancer. You are my hero! And then she looked like she’d been dancing for her whole life. I literally talk to her every day.

HC: What’s one thing that you really admire about her?

KB: I’ve always thought that she’s just so well-spoken, and she has so many passions. When she’s passionate about something, she won’t let it go, and I think that’s a major trait that a lot of people don’t have. Also, just her work ethic is ridiculous. Like I was saying with the dancing, learning how to dance for a show, and she was playing the captain! I mean, she had to really show up, and she did. And then, she just did a movie, and she had to learn how to play the cello. I mean, come on, Logan! What else can you do, Logan?

She’s also just a loyal friend. She’s always got your back. She’s my sister.

HC: That’s hard to find, so when you do find it, you never want to let it go. I get it.

KB: No, no, no. We’ll be sisters for life, for sure.

We also do the Southern Women Channel videos together on YouTube, and we do these videos called, “Sh%t Southern Women Say.” She did "The Dixie Download." I think she did one “Sh%t Southern Women Say,” and then she did all of our "Dixie Download" ones. That was a lot of fun, going back to our roots. I mean, I haven’t lost my accent. [Laughs]

HC: I always remember you as Erica Marsh, just so you know.

KB: No way. That’s so funny.

HC: To me, you will forever be Erica Marsh from One Tree Hill, because I was obsessed with that show.

KB: Hey, I’ll take it!

HC: Can you share some of your best memories being on OTH?

KB: It’s funny because, the first day on set, I didn’t really know a lot of people, and I’d say, “Oh, hey, I’m Kat, I’m playing Erica.” I think the first time I met Sophia [Bush] was when we did our scene, our very first scene when I turn around and I’m like, “Hey. Erica Marsh.” I literally think I scared her. She was like, who is this biotch? This bratty girl. But we ended up all becoming friends, and I think there might’ve been a relationship that bloomed offset for me too…

HC: Wait, with who? How did I miss that?

KB: Yeah. Well, it was Dan Scott.

Paul [Johansson] and I dated for a long time, but we’re still friends. He’s a great guy. But yeah, we met on set.

That’s a really close-knit little family. Kind of like our family on Hit the Floor. I mean, you work together for so long, and that show went on forever. I wish I had stayed on it a little longer. They were like, “We don’t know what to do with your character!” And I was like, “I can figure it out!”

HC: If they were to ever decide to do an OTH revival, would you be all for it?

KB: Oh, for sure. For sure. I mean, gosh, it’s been so long since I was on that show. That’s crazy. But I really did love the fact that they—I don’t know what season it was, but they fast forward four years. Because all of us were older playing high schoolers … like, nobody was actually 16, you know?

HC: Do you still keep in touch with anyone from the cast?

KB: I talk to Paul occasionally. I saw Sophia the other day—I had not seen her in forever. I’ll see Bethany Joy Lenz out and about, and… who did I run into recently? Maybe it was Lee, Lee Norris. He’s so sweet.

HC: That was your love! That was Erica’s love!

KB: That was my lover. I know, that was our first love. Oh my God.

HC: So good! What are your current TV obsessions, when you do have time to watch?

KB: Oh, goodness. This year, it was definitely This Is Us. It’s one of my favorite shows. I’m obsessed.

HC: Oh my gosh, don’t get me started. All I do is cry when I watch that show.

KB: Every single episode! And then, I was so bummed, because I got into Rise. Did you see that?

HC: Yeah! I can’t.

KB: Ugh, and they canceled it! I was like, what? You cannot cancel this amazing show!

HC: Isn’t that the worst, though? You get hooked on something and then all of a sudden it’s like, bye!

KB: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. They can’t do this. It’s a musical theater show. I’m obsessed. And I love watching Dancing with the Stars, and The Voice this year. Amazing. My friend produced the Genius series on Nat Geo, and I’m obsessed with that as well.

HC: You attended Marymount Manhattan. What’s one thing you would say you miss about being a college student?

KB: I think I miss… well, obviously, the friends that you make in college. They just kind of shape who you are as a young adult, and you learn who you are. But I also miss the structure of college [and] just having a set schedule. But going to school in Manhattan was like no other, because I didn’t go to some huge school; I went to a small college in Manhattan and didn’t know a soul, didn’t go to the sorority stuff. I don’t think I missed out, though. I think what I went to, and what I did, and who I met, and all the experiences I had in Manhattan was just perfect for me. And I never would’ve changed anything.

HC: What’s your biggest advice to young college women who are trying to find their way?

KB: Well, I know I’m not everybody [but] obviously, I knew what I wanted to do when I went to college, and I knew why I went to New York. I had a dream that could happen. But sometimes you figure it out when you’re in college, and that’s okay! Figure out what interests you, and don’t stress out too much about, “I don’t know what I want to do for the rest of my life!” Enjoy your time in college, enjoy your freedom, enjoy not having to pay for everything. [Laughs]

HC: Like you mentioned, you are originally from Mississippi, [and] you’ve lived in two major cities now, NYC and LA. Do you have any words of wisdom for a soon-to-be college student or a recent grad preparing to move into a big city? Because it can be a change.

KB: I mean, firsthand over here. Vicksburg, Mississippi, born and raised, and [went to] New York City. My mom was crying the entire day she was leaving me. It was bad. But I was determined. I knew what I wanted to do.

You have to stay focused. You can’t get lost. You have to have a goal. Write out your goals. You definitely, definitely need to be aware of what things cost. You learn so much in a big city that you don’t learn in small towns. You have to also be very self-sufficient. You can’t just go and be like, “Everybody do everything for me!” … I didn’t know anybody. People are always like, “Oh, you got so lucky,” and I’m like, not really. I just trained my butt off. I took every class out there.

And my parents were very supportive. Like, I did have their support.

When I moved to LA, I was like, oh no, I miss New York! But it was the right decision because I literally booked my very first audition when I moved to LA, and then the rest is history.

Everything’s going to be a struggle. But if you stay persistent, things will happen. A lot of people come to LA, or go to New York, and they say, “Nothing’s happening for me; I’m leaving right now.” Well, did you really give it that much of a shot? Did you give everything you could’ve given? And so that was my mentality. I was like, “Oh, let me stick around with it longer, I’m not ready to leave,” and every time I do, something happens. You just never know.

HC: Yeah, you never know. Sometimes you have to take those risks, as scary as they may seem. You think nothing’s going to happen, and you go through those periods where you’re like, “Oh my God, I’m such a failure,” but then there are those moments where you get that epiphany and everything starts to change.

KB: Yeah. Even at this stage in my career, I still have doubts. I’m like, oh gosh, why isn’t one thing happening? And then I’m like, okay, calm down. You’ve got things happening. And just embrace it because this may never come back again. So just live in the moment. Enjoy it.

It’s funny. I do spend a lot of time and effort with my career, but I’m also a really big family person, and you always need to go back to your family. You need to be close to them. I go home a lot, I talk to them a lot. I talk to my mom everyday. It keeps me humble, it keeps me real. I don’t get worked up in this whole LA scene. You’ve got to stay true to yourself, because even if you’re like, “Oh, I don’t want to be that person from Mississippi,” that’s who I am. And I’m a city girl now, but I’m still that girl from Mississippi.

Hit the floor season 4 premieres tonight at 10/9c on BET!