Ian Ousley | You Want Fresh Kicks, Huh? Put These Fresh Kicks in Your Pipe and Smoke It

Via Issue 191, Fresh Cuts

Written by

Photographed by

Yu Tsai

Styled by

Gorge Villalpando

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DIESEL jackets, pants, belt, and shoes.

Ian Ousley is an American actor hailing from College Station, Texas. This year he reprised the role of Sokka in the much anticipated live-action adaptation of the Netflix fantasy series Avatar: The Last Airbender. Here we sit down with the actor to discuss his latest project, his process and his style influences.

When you start a creative project like Avatar does it consume you or do you strike a balance? Does your acting and your personal life feel separate or very much attached?

Doing a creative project is a very intimate thing for me. I feel like the relationship between my life and these creative endeavors is that they just end up merging together. When I’m filming a project, it becomes my life. It might just be because I haven’t learned how to do both at the same time but my biggest concern when I sign onto something, especially something like Avatar that means so much to so many people, is to give my everything to the work that I can. It took about 13 months in Canada to film Avatar, and it really became my life.

The people that started out as co-workers like my co-stars Dallas, Kiawentiio, and Gordon have become like siblings to me. I had the opportunity for the last year and a half to live some life away from the project while we were waiting for the release and that felt very separate from the show but I didn’t feel separated from the people I met on set. We all still stayed in touch, especially me and Dallas because he lives in LA as well.

HIRO CLARK t-shirt and CDLP shorts.

How are you approaching taking on a role in a series that has such a passionate fan base? How is this fan base influencing your work and preparation? Is there a new or familiar angle from the cartoon series of Avatar you want to bring to the role?

I was a part of that passionate fanbase before I was cast and that definitely influenced my prep. I rewatched the first season of the original show and tried to embody the soul of who Sokka is but I did a lot of journaling and asked myself a lot of questions about how to show the humanness of Sokka and match the tone of the show we were making while honoring the original animated series. It was fun to dive into the vulnerability of Sokka while maintaining the comedic elements of who he is. It’s rare to find that balance with a character so it was really exciting for me to get to wrestle with.

LORO PIANA shirt, pants, and shoes and CASSONDRA JUSTINE necklace, bracelets, and rings.

What is unique about your acting process for this particular role in Avatar? How did you prepare for the physical aspect of the role? 

Well this was my first time preparing for a role that came with pre-existing IP, which is a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because you have so much to pull from with the show and knowing what the character’s arc is going to be and the comics and getting to really dive into the world that you will be bringing to life. The curse is that everyone who is familiar with the IP has a visual representation of the character in their head and loves it, so the balance really becomes how do I stay truthful to who this character is while getting to add the components of what isn’t there already, which is him being a real human going through real human emotions. The way I prepared physically was really just unlearning some of my martial arts techniques that I have and acting like I’m untrained.

DOLCE & GABBANA jacket, shirt, pants, and shoes and TIFFANY & CO. necklace.

What do you want people to take away from the series?

I want our show to inspire people to embrace family whether that be blood-related or chosen family like the Aang gang.

FENDI shirt, pants, and skirt, OMEGA watch, and TIFFANY & CO.  bracelet.

What emotions are most tied to creativity in your acting process in this show? Which emotions trigger ideas and inspiration and which do not?

For me, intellectualizing emotions while acting doesn’t always mix very well. For Sokka, who is 16 and has a lot riding on his shoulders, I don’t think he always knows why he’s feeling what he’s feeling. He often pushes down his true emotions or covers them up to protect his sister and his tribe. So, I think that is where I pulled my inspiration for a lot of my creative choices for him.

SAINT LAURENT BY ANTHONY VACCARELLO jacket, shirt, pants, and shoes.

Which of the four elemental powers are you really and why?

I think that I would be a water bender because it correlates the closest to being an artist in my opinion. Being a creative in general is often becoming formless and shapeless in the words of Bruce Lee.

PRADA jacket and shirt and TIFFANY & CO. bracelet.

How does fashion influence your life and how does life influence your fashion? Do the two work in conjunction? How has your style changed as your career has progressed? Do you have a staple piece that feels most personal?

Fashion is awesome because people infer a lot about you just from what you’re wearing on the daily. So, my life definitely influences my fashion because I’m often dressing based on what I’m feeling when I wake up that morning. My style has changed drastically in the last 2 years and I’ve gravitated towards a lot of black and white clothing and experimenting with layers.

My style has also evolved into a lot of highs and lows. I love zip-up hoodies and dress shirts and really exaggerated silhouettes right now. The most personal part of my wardrobe is my jewelry and most of the time I have on a cross necklace from Tiffany and Co. that my great aunt gave me, which has been a staple for me since I was 16. 

SANDRO shirt, pants, and tie, ANDERSON’S belt, and OMEGA watch.

Photographed by Yu Tsai

Styled by Gorge Villalpando

Grooming: Patrick Santa Ana

Grooming Assistant: Princie of Patrick Santa Ana Studio Agency

Flaunt Film: Jonathan Ho

Digital Tech: Luis Jaime

Photo Assistants: GC DeCastro and Calvin Mendez

Styling Assistant: McKenna Matus

Production Assistant: Jabari

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Flaunt Magazine, Ian Ousley, Issue 191, Fresh Cuts, Yu Tsai, Gorge Villalpondo, Diesel, Hiro Clark, CDLP, Loro Piana, OMEGA, Cassondra Justine, Dolce & Gabbana, Tiffany & Co., Fendi, Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello, Sandro, Anderson's