Britt Baron fell in love with theatre at a young age and recently transitioned to television. She is now starring in GLOW, an empowering television show about a women’s wrestling in the ‘80s. Although her character has not been able to wrestle yet, she still kicks butt playing her character Justine Biagi. Justine is the youngest of the GLOW girls and the daughter of wrestling coach, Sam Sylvia. Season two dropped June 29th and the Netflix original is renewed for a third season. Baron chats with us about how the set of GLOW has become her home, talks beauty expectations, and opens up about what it’s like to be working on a majority female set in our Fall 2018 issue.
To start off, can you give a quick rundown of your early life and how you got into acting?
Yeah! So, I was born in New York, but grew up mostly in Connecticut. I started mostly in community theater. I was always someone that was playing pretend and putting on a show for anyone that would give me an ounce of attention, like the neighbors, cousins and brother. I was always gravitating towards performing just because I love playing pretend. I was lucky enough, my public high school happened to have an incredible theatre department, by chance. So, that really helped me think about pursuing this professionally. I auditioned for colleges, but I was always very aware how hard this industry is and that there is no promise. So, I was pretty set on double-majoring, even though I was getting a BFA. I went to the University of Michigan because it was one of the only places that would allow me to do it. And then I moved out to LA, so I’m pretty much a west coast girl now. It’s kind of weird, like the east coast isn’t my home anymore.
Did anyone in your family have a background in acting?
Oh my gosh, no. My dad was in the printing business; he replaced billboards. My mom, now, is in real estate. She was in PR in her 20s in Manhattan, but actually grew up as a dancer. I started to dance when I was three, so I think she always talked about how she dreamed about being a dancer professionally but was too scared to go after it. So, you know in movies when you see parents project onto their kids? I think her encouraging me to be an actor comes out of her own regrets of never pursuing a professional dancing career. She always tells me, “I never got to do it, so you should go for it.”
You play, Justine Biagi, the youngest of the GLOW girls, on the Netflix original series, GLOW. Can you tell me a little about the show and your character?
The show is inspired by the first original Women’s Wrestling League, GLOW, which stands for Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. The first season is about starting off and all these women who want to be actresses and want to audition for the show, not really knowing how to wrestle or much about it. So, you get to watch them train and then finally put on a pilot episode. Then, in season two, the show is up and running. You see the girls deal with their new-found fame, fighting for airtime, and being women in this male-dominated world. And my character, Justine, is the youngest of the women, who plays ** SEASON ONE SPOILER ALERT ** Sam Sylvia’s (Mark Maron) daughter. In season two, I move in with Sam, and you kind of get to see her develop this relationship because he didn’t even know that he had a daughter. So, Justine is this incredibly smart, independent, headstrong, and I would say, wise beyond her years teenager who you get to see a little more vulnerability from. She’s like wildly independent, but at the same time desperately in need of her father’s approval and love. So, you get to watch her walk to that balance beam, which is fun to play.
What drew you to the GLOW script? How did you find out about it?
The pilot was amazing, one of the best I’ve ever read. I just got an email with the address and time. It was slightly different because I knew it was a Jenji Kohan project, and I was a huge fan of Orange is the New Black. I had just finished watching season four the night before I found out I booked GLOW. So that was particularly exciting for me; plus, I knew it was a 10-episode order for Netflix. So, I knew it was definitely an appealing job because you know if you book it, it’s going to series. They had a link to the original GLOW, so I knew it was a weird project because I was given scenes to do and wrestling monologue which is pretty unique. Usually, TV auditions are pretty intimate and you speak really quietly and don’t do much with your face, and this was the opposite of that. It was like, ‘Perform like you’re at the Staples Center, and it’s sold out to the back row,’ which is fun because I come from a theatre background, so I was so down for this.
GLOW is pretty much an all-female cast & crew. What is it like being on a female-dominated set?
Okay, well, I have been spoiled because this is my first regular gig, so this is all I know. It is just the greatest place to work, truly. I think that the show has found so much success, critically, especially because I mean all of our writers are women, our show-runners are women, almost all of our producers are women, and we have a ton of women on the crew. And when you’re telling stories about women, it just goes to show you how important it is for women to tell those stories and not men’s ideas of what they think it’s like to be a woman. A huge theme is female friendship, and you see how complex and nuanced it is in these different sights or if it’s passive-aggressive. You love each other but at the same time are fighting for the same thing. I think it’s just a really safe and wonderful place. We are so supportive of each other and the cast; they’re like some of my best friends now. I see them all the time, even when we are not shooting. And when we are shooting, it’s like camp. We are just all in it together. I also think because we are using our bodies, we’re rolling around with one another, you have to trust someone to not break your neck when they throw you over your shoulder. You build this bond that I’ve never experienced. And everyone in these tight, high-waisted, crazy leotards, and it’s not this ‘male-gazey’ set. Everyone is just there to work. I feel so lucky that this is my family.
I hope to see more women with the same opportunities as men. I am a feminist, I don’t want to get the job just because I am a woman, but because I earned it. I don’t want special treatment, just equal. I would love to see more female directors, writers, show runners.
Has GLOW taught you anything about the industry?
As a whole, it did open my eye to how amazing, smart, in-it-for-the-right-reasons, incredibly talented, willing to be ‘clowny’ women there are in Hollywood. I mean, I always had the perception that you needed to be 90 lbs, blond, blue-eyed, long eyelashes, to like work. And I don’t think that’s the case at all. GLOW is an example that you can be any size, shape, age, or demographic, and you can still work and be successful on and off the show. That’s probably the biggest thing.
And also good work. Sometimes I feel like shows dumb-down and think their audience is dumb. GLOW is so smart, thought-provoking, funny, but also heartfelt. I think the success of it has proven that the audience is there. People deserve good TV, not that they aren’t getting it, but every time I audition I feel like it’s the silly, à genoux, batting her eyes, waiting for the prince to come. I mean, really? I feel like there are better stories to be told, especially for women.
Season two was released on Netflix on June 29th. What are some of the reactions you’ve heard from your audience?
I am shocked by season two, Usually it’s a bump or a slump, but I feel like I have heard that it is better than season one! I’m not sure if people will be completely honest with me because they know I am on the show. It’s amazing and so rewarding. You put all this work in it and hope people respond to it the way you do.
What was your favorite part of season 2?
Ooo, I think my favorite scene is the ‘punk rock’ scene in episode two. I get into a fight at my boyfriend’s punk rock concert. It was the closest I’ve gotten to wrestling, and it was just such a fun thing to shoot. I was so proud. It’s an ‘angsty,’ fun scene and Justine is at her wits-end with her dad and takes out all of her frustration on this poor other-concert-goer. I just had such a blast, and Mark Burley, one of our producers, directed it, so it was just so fun working with him. He’s great.
How do you feel that the show is already renewed for season 3?
It is! There’s so much TV out there; it’s such a saturated market. I mean this is the dream, it’s like exceeded all of my wildest expectations. Like, when I auditioned for this show it was like any other audition. Like any other. I am so truly proud of it and stand behind everything it promotes, and that’s so rare. I try to never forget that or become jaded.
I heard you were a fan of Kate Nash and her music. How is it being in the ring with her?
Kate is truly one of the greatest people I have ever met. She is such an inspiration, so smart, funny, passionate, supportive and such a champion for the underdog. She’s such a role model to me, and as a wrestling partner, she’s awesome! I think she’s one of the strongest wrestlers on the show. I mean Kate is amazing; she slept on my couch during season one when she was out of an apartment. I use to have her music on my iPod Shuffle and thought I was so cool that I knew a British Pop Star. I mean, I didn’t even know it was Kate Nash until like halfway through training because she looked so different. All of the girls in general are amazing, but Kate in particular is such an phenomenal person, I’ve never met anyone quite like her.
In addition to GLOW, you just wrapped up on a lead role in Rob Riggle’s Ski Master Academy. Can you tell me what it’s about? And a little about your character?
Yes, so it’s about a Jet Ski Academy that Rob Riggle opens with his money from these jet ski action movies. It’s this cast of total misfits and a crazy, absurd, meta-kind of comedy. It has a lot of the producers who did Wet Hot American Summer, so it’s kind of vain. I play Brit-Brit, my father is Rob Riggle’s stunt double, and my dream is to do water stunts, but he does not want that life for me. So, a lot of my scenes are concocting ways for me to be able to go out on the wave runner. It’s really absurd and so, so, funny. It’s an amazing cast. I learned so much about comedy by working with some of the greatest.
Has it been different filming on a mixed-gender cast and crew versus a majority single-gendered?
Well, GLOW is like my home. I did my filming for the movie in like a month. I think the biggest difference was intimacy. There were a lot of actors that I didn’t even see because I didn’t have scenes with them.
This issue is all about being authentic and embracing natural beauty. How do you stay grounded and your true self within the competitive entertainment industry?
I think in the age of social media, it is really hard because it’s basically a platform to compare yourself to everyone else. It’s unfair because none of that is a realistic expectation of any of our lives and especially when it comes to beauty. There’s apps where you can Photoshop or apps where you can edit your own photos, filters, and angles. It’s easy to fall into this trap of hating certain things about our bodies, and I think I heard it in myself. Like someone will tell me they love my hair, and then I’ll immediately be like, ‘Oh no, no, no, my hairline is awful.’ I feel like there is this tendency, especially with women, to not highlight any part of themselves they do not like and try to hide it. I really try not to do this, but I think it’s helpful that I have friends outside the industry because they don’t care; they don’t live in Hollywood. They will call me out on the bullshit. I think who you surround yourself with is one of the most important ways to ground yourself. It’s important to love who you are! GLOW does that because it shows you can look like you, and not a model, and still be in this work. You don’t have to conform, and it’s encouraging to see a show like GLOW where everyone looks very different. That’s inspiring. Social media can make you depressed; I try not to post or go on it too much.
Now, that you’ve dipped your toes, what would you want to change about Hollywood?
I think the biggest thing that comes to mind is all the sexual assault. That is probably one of the most exciting changes, and it’s not just in Hollywood, it’s permeating all over this country and world. I think it’s exciting to see people’s public opinion and also see the women’s side. That shift is so enormous, and hopefully encourage more women to come out and discourage men to continue that sort of behavior. I hope to see more women with the same opportunities as men. I am a feminist, I don’t want to get the job just because I am a woman, but because I earned it. I don’t want special treatment, just equal. I would love to see more female directors, writers, show runners. It’s funny that’s not the norm. Especially working on GLOW, I feel like we can be in a very good place in like 5 years.
If you had one message to share with your fans, what would that be?
Just, thank you. I am so grateful for the support. Thank you for watching us, supporting us, and reaching out! That is what makes it all worth it. I had someone from Hawaii write to me and say how much the show means to them; that’s so cool and rewarding. A huge thank you.
Is there someone that inspires you on how to live your life?
I would say, so typical: my mom. Every single day. And my dad. They are both so incredibly supportive, they tell everyone about it. They are so proud of me, they pushed me when I did not believe in myself. Without them, I don’t know if I would even be doing this. They were such loving parents. I hope to do that with my future children as well. They’re like my best friends. I think it’s so important to have a good support system.
What would be your dream role?
I would really enjoy playing Katniss Everdeen. I think strong female characters are very inspiring. I mean Natalie Portman’s character in V for Vendetta, it’s just an incredible part. Women who are fearless and outspoken. The more the merrier.
STORY MEGHANA PATNANA
PHOTOS ALLEGRA MESSINA
STYLIST SYDNEE PAIGE
Read more in print and digital: Volume III, Issue No. 004 – Fall 2018.Like this