TV & Movies

Chlöe Bailey Was “Laughing About” Criticism Of Her Swarm Sex Scene

“I am really proud of my performance in that show.”

Chloe Bailey poses on the red carpet of the March 14 'Swarm' premiere in Los Angeles.
Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Prime Video

When R&B duo Chlöe x Halle opened for Beyoncé on 2016’s Formation tour, Chlöe Bailey was 17 years old, and two years later, she and her sister joined Freeform’s coming-of-age series, Grown-ish. Now 24, Bailey had her first sex scene in Swarm, opposite Damson Idris (Khalid), and some fans had difficulty seeing her as a grown woman. After the Prime Video horror-comedy dropped on March 17, the backlash to Bailey and Idris’ controversial sex scene was swift, with some dubbing the moment graphic and gratuitous, while others said they simply didn’t want to see the “Treat Me” singer in that light.

Bailey, who plays Marissa in the series, didn’t take the haters too seriously. Her reaction to the Swarm criticism? “I was laughing about it,” she revealed in a recent ET Canada interview. “I am really proud of my performance in that show and being on set with such incredible actors like Damson [Idris] and Dominique [Fishback] and being directed by Donald Glover and being on set with the likes of Malia Obama and Janine [Nabers] and everybody.”

The musician also claimed to be unbothered by some critics’ inability to see her as grown woman who’s embracing her sexuality. “It doesn’t frustrate me anymore because I have so many other things to think about than to waste my time thinking how people perceive me,” Bailey added. “Before it used to bother me, but now I’m like, I got so much to worry about.”

Warrick Page/Prime Video

Before Swarm even dropped, Bailey revealed that she and Idris filmed an intimate scene for the series, which Glover and Nabers co-created, telling Deadline, “I remember when I first read the script, I was like, ‘Oh this is insane. This is incredible.’ I cried. Then I remembered, ‘You gotta do that sex scene, girl.’ As open and liberal as I am with my body, I was very scared because I haven’t had that many partners.”

Bailey continued, “I’m not like that — like that that sexual and open. Damson made it really comfortable. You know, there were limited people on set — it was a closed set. We were laughing in between. We literally had a bouncy ball in between us. It took all the nervousness away from it.”

Later, she also opined that viewers’ strong reactions were borne largely from the fact it was her in the scene rather that the content itself. “That’s what kind of makes it blow out of proportion,” Bailey explained during a March 26 appearance on the Big Boy’s Neighborhood podcast. “I was just doing my job and people got to remember that I’m an adult and I’m an artist and nothing was seen that they haven’t seen from me. You didn’t see nipple.”

She could have escaped the hoopla, though, as Glover initially had another Swarm star in mind to play Marissa. The Atlanta alum revealed to The New York Times that he envisioned Fishback, who stars as Dre, an obsessed fan of a fictional, Beyoncé-like pop star, in Bailey’s role — but she declined in favor of the serial killer role. “I was like, ‘You want to play the murderer? Uh, really?’” Glover told the NYT. “She felt very sweet, like someone you wanted to take care of, but she wanted to do the opposite, which I completely understand even in my own career. She wanted to branch out, and I was excited to allow her to do that.”

Either way, she and Bailey undeniably made their marks in ways that created plenty of buzz.