Woman in a black dress with feathered sleeves poses against a curtain backdrop.


Rachel Bilson Won’t Stop Being An Advocate For Sex Positivity

The O.C. actor reprises her role as Summer for a new campaign.

by Collette Grimes

If you’re of the mind that the 1990s happened 10 years prior, we recommend taking a seat before you get any deeper into this interview, because we dwell on what could be an alarming fact: that The O.C. premiered more than a decade ago.

To celebrate the show’s 21st birthday, Rachel Bilson is teaming up with the infused-tequila brand 21Seeds to reprise her legendary role as Summer Roberts (while bumping into a few familiar faces). Although Bilson tells NYLON she firmly believes some 2000s trends should stay in the past, the fresh, bite-sized take on the early aughts program delivers nothing but warm and fuzzy memories for the actress. “I was in my 20s when The O.C. started and practically grew up on the show — we created the best memories,” she says. “The fact that it’s been 21 years is insane, so the partnership with 21Seeds is perfect timing.”

Revisiting the “greatest time of her life,” Bilson reminisces with NYLON on The O.C., why she’s proud of Summer’s growth, and being vocal about sex positivity.

Courtesy of 21SEEDS
Courtesy of 21SEEDS
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Your daughter is a big fan of Bake Squad on Netflix, but does she ever watch The O.C.?

She’s 9 years old, so she’s a bit too young and innocent to start watching The O.C. But once she’s older, we might watch a few episodes together. For now, we’ll stick with Hart of Dixie.

What are some of your favorite Y2K trends? And what trends do you wish would stay in the early 2000s?

Low-rise jeans can definitely stay in the past. I can’t do anything in them — they just aren’t practical for bending down and picking up toys. I respect them and anyone who wants to go for it, but I’d rather leave low-rise jeans in my 20s. I’m not mad at platform sandals, though — I’m actually wearing platform Birkenstocks right now. I’m 5-foot-2, so I love adding a bit of height.

Summer is the OG mean girl. How does it feel looking back at your scenes? Are there parts of her you may have kept with you as you’ve matured?

You know, it’s funny because as writers get to know you and as you play characters, there are certainly parts of yourself intertwined with them. Josh [Schwartz] knows me so well, so her love of Golden Girls comes from me because I’m 80 years old at heart. I re-watched the show for The O.C. re-watch podcast, and I really loved the arc Summer had. It was so cool to watch her journey. I look up to her and feel proud of her.

What are your favorite summer cocktails to make? What do you think Summer’s go-to drink would be?

Summer and I definitely have the same taste, and I’ve been loving the cucumber jalapeno spicy margarita, which we’re calling “The Summer Spicy.” I love tequila and something with a kick. It doesn’t hurt that it’s so easy to make. I’m also a big fan of palomas, and with the grapefruit hibiscus tequila, you can make the perfect summer drink.

You recently spoke out about losing a job because you spoke about sex candidly — now that some time has passed, what are your feelings about it?

I grew up in a very open household. My mother was always very open about discussing everything. I think it’s super important to be able to have that dialogue and to not make talking about sex so taboo. I just want to make sure whatever I’m putting out there, I’m OK with my daughter seeing. ... When the time is right, I’ll be having these discussions with her as well because you want people to feel safe sharing anything. It’s all about creating a safe space, so I have to stand behind that.