Fan Fest Exclusive: ‘GLOW’ Star Britney Young Talks Her Breakout Role on the Netflix Hit Series
Netflix’s newest hit series GLOW has been earning high praise from critics and inspiring people all over the world to step out of their comfort zones and find their inner strength! The season is comprised of ten 30-minute episodes and tells a fictional tale about how the 1986 Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling series got its start. Much like wrestling within the WWE (or, at the time it was the WWF), the female wrestlers would play characters and personas and battle against each other in a perfectly orchestrated wrestling match until one winner was victorious.
We recently had the pleasure of chatting with series breakout star Britney Young. Young plays Carmen Wade (aka. Machu Picchu) the daughter of wrestling royalty Goliath Jackson. Her character is a gentle soul who wants to be a wrestler but struggles with some stage fright and insecurities which she has to overcome. You may have seen Young before in her reoccurring role as Little Debbie on the TruTV series Those Who Can’t but GLOW is her first major role in front of the camera. We spoke with Young about how she got her start in acting, how the series GLOW is changing the lives of fans all around the world and her future hopes and aspirations for her character and for the series!
Denise: Before we get into talking about the series, I know that you worked a little bit behind the scenes before you actually transitioned to being in front of the camera. Can you tell me a little bit about how you made that transition into acting?
Britney: Yeah, so when I came out of college, I originally still wanted to be an actor, but realized I had $60,000 worth of student loans, so I thought, “What can I do to have a stable job?” I decided to go into production, and I loved my experience. I learned so much. I eventually want to have my own production company and produce, so I really, really appreciated my time behind the camera, but I kind of bounced around.
I was a production secretary, I was a post-PA, and I worked as an accounting clerk on movies and in TV, so I’ve done pretty much every kind of job you can do. A couple of years ago, I was actually the showrunner’s assistant on the show The Mentalist. I was just getting all these, having to show the producers casting tapes and auditions, and having to email the casting director back and saying who we wanted. I really just started noticing, that’s what I want to do, that’s where my passion is and how can I figure out how to get into that side of the business.
I met with my friend Montel Skinner, bless her. She was doing a web series at the time and she told me she had a part for me. Didn’t even have to audition, it was mine if I wanted it, and I took it. This really, really lit a fire under my butt. I met with one of the producers of that web series, who also happened to be a manager, and said he’d love to work with me. He started sending me out, and I started booking things and then thankfully GLOW came along! At that point, I had to make the decision: where do I really want to go? My heart lies with acting, so I took the chance, and here we are.
Denise: That really reinforces that, “you can do anything,” attitude. Just because you’re starting somewhere, doesn’t mean you have to stay there, which is cool. That’s a great story.
Britney: I say it so much, there’s kind of this Hollywood cliché of like, “I moved out to Los Angeles, and I had to wait tables and was a bartender just so I could audition.” I think people need to realize you don’t have to take any typical path to get to where you want to go, as long as you start down that road to get to where you want to go. I think that’s what I really had to think to myself, “I don’t have to be a waitress and bartend, even though there are people who do that, and I respect them for it, but I can go down my own path and get to the same goal I want to do as long as I put my mind to it and put my heart in it,” and that’s all that really matters.
Denise: Did you have any prior knowledge of the 80s original series or did you have knowledge of wrestling at all before you dove into that world?
Britney: Wrestling was very popular when I was growing up in the late 90s and early 2000s when The Rock, and Stone Cold Steve Austin were popular. But I’m always honest with this question – I had no desire to watch wrestling. I had no interest in it whatsoever, and when I got the audition, I’d never heard of GLOW beyond reading an article in Deadline about Netflix doing the show. They sent us a little clip of the original GLOW ladies doing their beginning opening rap number.
Denise: Oh, the raps.
Britney: Yeah! That led me down this amazing YouTube rabbit hole where I just tried to watch every single clip online. I tried to find the documentary. I just tried watching everything, because I was like, “This is insane, I need to be a part of it immediately.”
Denise: Awesome. Did any of the original GLOW wrestlers have input in the production? How have they reacted to the series?
Britney: Babe the Farmer’s Daughter, Ursula Hayden, is the owner of GLOW right now, and she was a consultant producer for us since the very beginning when our co-creators, Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch, first wanted to write this script. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her and a few other girls from the original show, and some of them have reached out on Twitter and Instagram. They are all just saying such positive things. One thing that was cool was when I actually met with one of the original GLOW girls, Little Egypt, and she and I had a discussion on a podcast. She said a lot of things about how the series reminded her of the real thing. Like, “I remember this moment, I remember getting our characters. I remember how it felt to not like your character, but still have to do it because that’s your job.”
That, to me, was the best thing you could hear, because our show is inspired by these women. We’re not an exact replica, but the fact that we could bring in moments from their lives that they actually went through and actually experienced is just so heartwarming to me. It’s like, we’re paying respect to those who came before us – the amazing women from GLOW. I’m really excited that we could do a project that they’re proud of and that we, at the same time, are proud of as well.
Denise: You guys did a great job. My brother was a huge fan of the original series, and we actually were able to kind of pinpoint who everybody’s character was based on from the original show. So it was really cool. Really nostalgic for us, so you did a great job there.
Britney: Some of them are obvious, and some are just like, maybe it could be them, maybe not, but yeah, there’s definitely a lot of things in that … Like especially watching the documentary, I was like, “Oh, that really happened? Cool.”
Denise: Let’s talk about your character. The character of Carmen Wade was one of my personal favorites from the series. I thought she was super relatable. I loved watching her evolve and grow as each episode went on. When you got to read for her, what drew you to that character? What attracted you to her?
Britney: Well, I remember it clear as day. When I got the audition, what really drew me to Carmen was that the term, “gentle giant,” was in her character description. In Hollywood, being a plus-size woman often means you’re being typecast into playing the girl who’s in the corner, quiet, has no friends and doesn’t like herself. Either that or you’re playing these mean girls and you’re one of the bitches. I was, really, really excited that they used the word, “gentle,” because I interpreted that as her being this kind and sweet soul. Then, when I got the role and was reading the script, I was really glad to see that’s exactly where the writers went with it.
Like you said, she is very relatable. I see a lot of myself in Carmen, and I think that a lot of other people can see themselves in her too because even though she’s in her 20s, she’s still going through weird awkward phases. For example, making friends for the first time – specifically female friends. We’ve all gone through that process of finding your voice, finding your passion, discovering who you are and realizing what you want to be. That’s something that really excited me throughout the process because Carmen just has so many layers, and we’re still peeling them back, and seeing everything about her, and I really appreciate it. The material our writers give us is phenomenal.
Denise: Yeah, I agree and Carmen is wrestling legacy. It’s instilled in her that she is the expert, even though she may not necessarily be, this might be her first time wrestling. I know that the cast had to go through at least a month of training in order to be able to safely pull off the moves that you do pull off in the series. Was there any added pressure to you or added training that you had to go through since you were portraying a legacy wrestler?
Britney: No, and I really give props to our wrestling coordinator Chavo Guerrero Jr. and our stunt coordinator Shauna Duggins. When they would get a script, they would look through it and be like, okay, “let’s do this.” In one episode, Alison [Brie] and I have a little mini match where we do all these moves, like a suplex and a body slam. They were like, “All right, Alison, Britney, we need you guys to be able to have these moves down by this date.” But instead of just pulling us to the side to work on it, they would make all 14 of us learn how to do these moves so that whenever it was written into a script, we all would know how to do it at the drop of a hat! I really appreciate that because it helped to create a stronger team dynamic within us.
We were so excited to see each other grow and to see our skills heightened. When you stand up there like, “Oh yeah, I’m going to do a suplex,” and you do it, and then you see like 12 other girls go behind you and do it too, it’s just so inspiring and very encouraging. I think that was really smart that they did it that way, and it takes some of the pressure off of me. I had no experience with wrestling at all, but to see that I was learning at the same pace as everyone else, and wasn’t expected to know how to do these things before everybody else was really, really fantastic.
Denise: One of the things that I loved most about the series as a whole is that it’s actually very empowering for women and it was empowering to watch these characters come into their own. The series really focuses on these strong, independent women taking a leap of faith, going out of their comfort zones, and kind of finding themselves. When you first read the script and when you first learned about your character, did you realize that the series could have that type of impact on viewers and particularly on women viewers?
Britney: To be honest, I don’t think that I really thought about the viewers until we were finished. GLOW is so empowering and inspiring, but I think while we were shooting, I was more overwhelmed (in a good way!) with how it impacted me, and how these 14 girls really were changing my life. This experience really did change my life. I’m a very confident person already, but I grew even more confident in areas that I didn’t even know I was struggling with, if that makes sense.
Now that the show is out, I am getting all these comments and I am seeing how fans are reacting, especially younger female fans. I’m reading so many tweets on Twitter where people are like, “I just want to go and throw a chair through a window now.” It’s just so powerful. One girl really struck me when she said that GLOW gave her the confidence to stand up to some guy who was sexually harassing her on the subway on her way to work.
Denise: Wow, that’s powerful!
Britney: Right? That was so amazing to me. Obviously, we don’t want people to go out there and get hurt or get injured, but we definitely want viewers to take that wrestler-mentality that you can do anything and you can be anything you want. As long as you work for it, you train for it, and you want it, you’ll get it.
Denise: Looking towards the future, if there’s a season two and beyond, what hopes do you have for Carmen and the rest of the girls for the future? Where do you see your character going?
Britney: I definitely want to see how Carmen reacts to this new 1980s Hollywood lifestyle. She is very innocent, and almost a little naive in everyday things. Not that I want her to take drugs or drink alcohol, but I’d love to see how she reacts to being in situations where those vices are prevalent. How will she react to boys, and relationships, and love, and sex and all that? I want to see her continue to grow and go through all of these stages of life that we all have gone through.
As far as the show as a whole, I really want to see how these ladies deal with fame and being on a successful show. For most of them, they’re actors, and that’s what their dream has been – to get the fame and become celebrities. I want to see who will really react to it well? Who, maybe surprisingly, won’t react to it well, or how will it change their characters and the relationships between all of them? That’s where I want to see the show go. I definitely want a second season and beyond, so my fingers are crossed!!
Make sure you catch Britney Young in her breakout role as Carmen Wade/Machu Picchu on GLOW along with Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, and Marc Maron. All episodes are currently available for streaming on Netflix!
— GLOW (@GlowNetflix) July 10, 2017