Photographed by: Luke Gilford
Styled by: Sue Choi
Written by:
Marshall Heyman

The 25-year-old actor Christopher Briney may be Hollywood’s next big thing, but he’s as humble and grounded as they come. You could even call him a diamond in the rough — authentic and rare. To that end, he believes there’s a simple explanation for the wave of success he’s been surfing. 

“I’ve been stupidly lucky,” Briney says on a Zoom from his Crown Heights apartment. “I’m just grateful to have a job, and I’ve hit the jackpot a few different times.”

Earlier this year, Briney played Aaron Samuels, the adorable math tutor slash love interest in the recent Mean Girls musical remake, a certified box office smash. Actors in countless profiles have admitted to lying about their skills and abilities to jockey for a meeting to get a specific role. Briney can’t carry a tune. He admirably passed on Mean Girls until producers confirmed he, indeed, would not have to sing a note.

He also sets hearts aflutter on the hit Amazon series The Summer I Turned Pretty. He’ll soon go back to North Carolina to film season three, which he considers a kind of “summer camp.” Being on set even has expanded Briney’s extracurricular activities. It’s where he learned to play golf. 

Like his ascension to heartthrob status, Mean Girls actor Christopher Briney makes diamond dressing feel effortless.

“And then I’ll be jobless again,” Briney says, returning to the warmhearted, earnest modesty of just a normal guy trying to find work. 

Needless to say, the red carpet has been calling, trying to polish Briney’s more jagged facets. Fashion and jewelry houses, too.

“I appreciate a good piece of jewelry,” he says, especially natural diamond jewelry. Wearing rings on his fingers is “kind of sick. I have two rings on right now,” including one his girlfriend, a Pace classmate named Isabel Machado, gave him for his birthday two years ago. He’s been eyeing a T Ring from Tiffany & Co., and has discovered a new appreciation for Cartier, Tiffany and Tag Heuer watches. 

“It’s fun to wear expensive stuff,” Briney admits. 

On his first big photoshoot, Briney wore a natural diamond necklace worth upwards of $100,000. “I found that out after the shoot,” he says. “All I could think was, You let me go to the bathroom with that on?” 

Like his ascension to heartthrob status, Mean Girls actor Christopher Briney makes diamond dressing feel effortless.

I appreciate a good piece of jewelry,” he says. Wearing rings on his fingers is “kind of sick.”

The attention is still relatively new for Briney, which may be how he stays under the radar. Growing up in Hartford, Connecticut, he was ultimately more interested in a different kind of diamond. The baseball kind. But sometime in high school, he caught the acting bug, and it bit him hard.  For college, he went acting all the way, studying film and television performance at Pace University, in New York City, or his MFA. 

Almost by happenstance—or as he would nobly call it, “a stroke of dumb luck”—Briney scored his first big role in Dalílanddirected by Mary Harron (American Psycho and I Shot Andy Warhol) right after graduation. “Their leading actor booked a television show and dropped out,” Briney explains. Harron found him the old fashioned way: by mining through video showcases from nearby acting programs. Soon, the director had uncovered her own gem, plucking Briney for a plum role as the assistant to surrealist painter Salvatore Dalí, portrayed by Ben Kingsley.

The first two days of shooting the debut feature overseas were “terrible,” Briney recalls, honestly. But then “something clicked.” 

“By day three, I was having so much fun,” he remembers. Unpretentiously, he qualifies that statement. “Of course, I still had some nights when I was in a fetal position.” He worked through the anxiety, partly by recognizing that Harron and her producers had faith in his abilities and by knowing it was out of his control whether the movie succeeded or failed. “Reception is an impossible thing to predict,” says Briney. 

When he was feeling down, “All I could think was, ‘I’m going to destroy this movie,’” he explains, sincerely. “But I pictured myself going home after failing and my friends still hugging me. They’ll love me if I fail, so, I thought, F*** it, I’ll just fail.” 

Like his ascension to heartthrob status, Mean Girls actor Christopher Briney makes diamond dressing feel effortless.

Of course, he didn’t fail, and the role led to a hit movie and an Amazon series. 

Most young Hollywood actors already arrive cookie-cutter and polished. They’re self-involved and eyes on the prize, whether that be a role as a Marvel superhero or a lead in a rebooted summer tentpole, preferably opposite some of the most seasoned talent in the industry.

Briney, by contrast, has an almost disarming purity. He lights up with warmth when he discusses the friends he made during his acting program, whom he hangs out with on a regular basis in Brooklyn. One works at a billiards bar, but they love having house parties. 

“Actually, they’re all a lot more talented than me,” Briney says, setting off the kindness-meter yet again. “We’ve seen each other at our worst and our best. My friends are all working, auditioning actors. I’ve just been luckier.”

No matter what level of success he ultimately achieves, his goal is: “How can I find a way to work with my friends?” 

Briney credits his positivity to his college studies. “I think one of the best things our program did was encourage us to be people before any of us were actors. To keep track of ourselves. To practice self-care,” he explains. That keeps his feet on the ground despite the more recent onslaught of fame. 

Like his ascension to heartthrob status, Mean Girls actor Christopher Briney makes diamond dressing feel effortless.

It might help that Briney has had some real-life experience of scraping together a few dollars to make it in New York. “I love Crown Heights, but there’s also a reason we’re living in Crown Heights and not Dumbo,” he says. “New York is New York. You do what you can do.”

During school, he worked at Trader Joe’s. Ringing the register bell, he says, is amusing “the first couple times, but then it becomes part of the job.” Still, he adds, “there’s something fun about the tasting stations and the paddle you have with a number on it at your register. They do make the day a little better.”

Briney’s not ready to move into a Soho loft or a townhouse in Cobble Hill. He’s enjoying life with roommates in Brooklyn, and he, indeed, frequents Trader Joe’s, but this time as a customer. “I think my guilty pleasure is Trader Joe’s Takis, those rolled tortilla chips,” he says.

He also uses golf as a meditative escape. He picked up the game with co-star Sean Kaufman during some downtime on The Summer I Turned Pretty set. 

“It’s only been a year, but we’re getting better,” Briney says. “I grew up playing baseball, but you can’t play baseball alone.” 


Briney insists he’s an introvert who likes being anonymous. “I don’t live off the grid, but I almost feel like I live off the grid,” he says. “People hardly say anything in Brooklyn. I love it that way. It’s a combo of me wanting privacy and also having a life there with my friends.”  

Indeed, Briney is always caught off guard when someone notices him out in the wild and tells him they’ve seen that thing he was in. 

“I go in without expecting any kind of response,” he says with the purity of, yes, a natural diamond. “Frankly, I just enjoy the acting. I love the work, the creation. And then I forget that people are actually going to watch it.”

Photographer: Luke Gilford
Stylist: Sue Choi
Model: Cathy Cooper
Groomer: Sonia Lee for Exclusive Artists using Balmain Hair Couture
HairHeather Weppler for Exclusive Artists using L’Oreal Paris
Makeup: Leo Chaparro
Manicurist: Alex Jachno
Lighting Director: Evadne Gonzalez
Set DesignOwl and the Elephant
Entertainment Editor at Large: Glynis Costin
Creative Production: Petty Cash Production
Photo Assistants: Tatiana Santana, Aika
Digital Tech: Ben Lecheballier
Fashion Assistant: Cara Catabay

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