Marvel’s first female-led superhero film Captain Marvel finally made its blockbuster debut on March 8th. The star-studded, action-packed film delighted fans across the universe and continues to soar at the box office! With an intergalactic battle waging on, comic connoisseurs were treated to new additions amongst their beloved characters. Soren, played by actress Sharon Blynn, is part of an extraterrestrial humanoid race called the Skrulls… bringing forth a heaping portion of perplexity to our superheroes. Fan Fest News had the pleasure to chat with Ms. Blynn as she discussed her exciting new role and the amazing journey that got her there.
Linda: Welcome to the Marvel Universe!
Sharon: Thank you.
Linda: I finally had a chance to see Captain Marvel over the weekend. I was excited to see you as Soren. How has the experience been for you?
Sharon: It’s been incredible. I’m still floating in the clouds about it.
Linda: I read that you are a big Marvel fan. How did this role come about?
Sharon: Magic, cosmic intervention. But here on Earth, just a regular old audition actually. My reps sent me out for the audition. The call back was a director session, and then a few days after that, we got the call, that I got the job.
Linda: Seems like it was meant to be. Did you have to do much research? Being a big fan, were you familiar with the storyline?
Sharon: I was more familiar with Captain Marvel, less so with the Skrulls. They’re a little bit more obscure and they’ve only been in the comic books … and I think there was a cartoon at some point. So, their appearance has been much more complicated. This is the first time they’re appearing in a movie. So Skrull-wise, not as much. Actually, until I got the role and got more information, I didn’t even really have a strong sense of what I was going to be doing. They were very tight-lipped. Even the audition didn’t have much information, just a description of a scenario. No words, no story, no context. I didn’t even know I was auditioning for Captain Marvel! (laughs)
Linda: Oh wow! (laughs)
Sharon: Yeah. I knew the Marvel movie and other general stuff, but nothing specific. So, it was all this kind of slow rollout of information on a need-to-know basis. And everything I learned along the way was even more exciting than the next.
Linda: That’s awesome. Marvel is known to be pretty well tight-lipped. You’re definitely not the first actor or actress that has said almost that very thing.
Linda: What would you say is the most challenging, regarding your portrayal of Soren? What did you love the most about it?
Sharon: I honestly loved every single little thing about it. As you said, I’m a fan. From the beginning and pre-shooting process, the prosthetics fittings and getting to be in the inner sanctum of the legacy effects shop. Meeting all the people who make this magic happen, that we all get to enjoy on the screen was extraordinary. Then, being part of getting all that stuff done in the makeup chair. Just working with such a wide range of amazing artists, I mean. When you [are involved in] acting obviously there are makeup artists, but this is sort of a whole other level of artistry at every stage of the game. That was incredible.
“The biggest challenge for me was just learning how to physically move and emote from behind all those prosthetics.”
Within the first day, I came up with the term ‘Skrulltox’, which was kind of like having Botox. I couldn’t move my forehead. I mean I could, but my normal movements weren’t enough for it to come through. I actually practiced in the mirror once I had all that stuff on. And with the lenses and everything, it sounds corny, but I literally practiced in the mirror. “Okay, if I move my eyebrows this much, what does that look like?” Having to sort of create new muscle memories of exaggerated movements that would translate as normal, the way I usually emote and not over the top. It was finding that balance. So, that was the biggest challenge, in terms of physicality. Everything else, emotionally speaking and connecting with Ben (Mendelsohn) and Brie (Larson)… especially Ben I guess, for that pivotal scene… Any acting job would have usually been just connecting with the person I’m working with and the people I’m working with, you know, telling a story.
Linda: That’s great. I was going to ask you about the makeup process. How long did the transition take?
Sharon: From the time I sat in the chair, it was about two hours, which isn’t too bad.
Linda: No. I would think a lot more. You all looked amazing. Wow, two hours. That’s actually not too bad.
Sharon: Yeah, they were incredible. They do it and … I don’t know if I’m giving away trade secrets, but they make them in pieces that just kind of get glued on and then painted over. There was not only the physical prosthetics but actual tattooing and painting and stuff to put on all the details. For me in particular, my guys, Chris and Mike and also Carly on one of the days, they decided to make me ‘The Pretty One.’ So I got a little extra zhoosh, and Mike gave me a Cindy Crawford beauty mark.
Linda: That’s really sweet.
Sharon: We had fun actually, it was great. They kept thinking, “Oh, you’re going to get annoyed by the second, third time we do this.” So every day I walked in just total giddy, like a kid in a candy store. “Okay guys! Let’s do this!”
Linda: Since you’re new coming into the Marvel Universe, did Ben or Brie have any advice for you?
Sharon: No, actually. Like I said, we just sort of hit the ground running as actors doing our job. It was very easy, thankfully. I think there probably was some intimidation on my part. Not just because of the enormity of the project, Marvel and everything, then working with Ben Mendelsohn, just all these things of, “Oh, what is the energy and the vibe going to be like?” Just walking on set and meeting everybody was … It was very ‘family’, an immediate welcoming environment.
Linda: That’s great. I know we can’t discuss spoilers but I do hope there is a future for Soren.
Sharon: That I can’t say, really and figuratively. I really enjoyed it. I think some of that really depends on how the audiences continue to respond to the Skrulls. Being this is the first time that they’re appearing in films. I think with the story and with Ben especially, and hopefully with myself as well, I think we brought emotional depth to the characters. I think in the Marvel Universe all characters are written in this particular way, where it’s not one dimensional. Every character along the spectrum of good and evil is not just flat. You want to know more about them no matter what situation is happening and what role they’re playing. So, I just think, hopefully, all that richness comes across in all the relationships between all the characters. It’s sort of a big mystery as to where things go from here.
Linda: We’re all looking forward to it! Now that we’ve discussed a bit of Marvel, we must discuss your inspirational life. Cancer activist … I wasn’t going to let you get away without talking about this. What you do is amazing! I feel like cancer is something that has touched everyone’s lives, including myself. Can you talk to me a little bit about your Bald is Beautiful campaign? How did the relationship between acting and activist come about?
Sharon: Something I always talk about [is that] it never goes wider than two degrees of separation between you and cancer. So, either you have it, or you know someone who has it, or you know someone who knows someone. That’s the widest the net goes pretty much. I feel like everyone on the planet is along for that ride at some point, unfortunately. I had not done acting, prior to that [diagnosis]. My twin sister is an actor, and she’s been doing it for a long time, back home in New York. It was something I never, ever, ever thought I would ever do.
Sharon: I wanted to stay behind the scenes, magic maker. I worked in the music business and I was about promoting artists making those people shine, and bringing great art and artists to the world. Doing it very much behind the scenes. So to step out in front was a complete paradigm shift for me. It started with losing my hair, and the chemo, and also losing my ovaries. The questions that it raised in myself about how I was looking at myself in my womanhood, my beauty, and my identity really. Who am I?
“I was suddenly without my trademark long, hippy jazz chic hair. Who am I?”
I was working in the Jazz business in New York at Verve Records and Blue Note Records. That was my life, in the jazz clubs until five or six o’clock in the morning every night, doing my day job, of course, as well. Then I left the business. A few months after that is when I was diagnosed, on a trip to Miami to visit my parents. That one week trip became a three-year medical mystery tour of another nature. All of this was just … I don’t know how you call it, the universe, whatever, life shift. “No, you’re not going anywhere, this is now what you’re going to be doing.” Then losing my hair, and the ovaries, and all those questions. I met a lot of women who struggled so much with the question about femininity, our wholeness as a woman, while we’re fighting to actually just live. I felt like,
“We’re already going through Hell, why are we carrying society’s baggage with us along the way? We need to drop those bags off.”
I wanted to do something to change that. I recognized at a certain point the power of the visual media, be it print, TV, or film to really change and impact our perception of ourselves. And even the cancer experience, if it’s depicted in a movie, I never saw anyone on screen or in print who looked like me. When cancer was portrayed on TV it was this … first of all, older. I was 28 at the time, so it was older people. So that was like, “I’m too young for this.” And then also, always covering up their head, which is fine if the energy underneath it is still from the place of love. But it always felt like shame to me, like I’m covering this up to protect others about my disease or my situation. Or, “I don’t feel beautiful, I want to cover up.” I didn’t experience that. So I just didn’t see myself in all these images that are saturating our consciousness and in general.
“As women, we are barraged with images of these impossible standards or what we’re supposed to live up to, to be considered attractive and whole and beautiful. I always kind of rebelled against that anyway, so it was already in me. I just sort of amped it up to an exponential degree of, “You know what? Bleep that.”
Linda: Good for you!
Sharon: I need to do something to change that. So if working with individual media is how I’m going to do it, then that’s what I’m going to do. I had some headshots taken and I slapped my mission statement on the back. My sister gave me a lot of guidance about what I can do to start pounding the pavement in New York, and I just kind of went from there.
Linda: That’s incredible. I think you’re right, I think there’s a certain amount of shame. You’re trying to battle disease… It’s crazy to me, how women are made to feel.
Sharon: Yeah. The funny thing is, I chose not to cover up so just walking out in the world as a smooth-crowned bald chic. A lot of people would come up to me, just people saying “Aw, I wish I could do that,” funny enough. Women saying, “I wish I could do that.” I could feel all the societal pressure conformity that they feel they have to do, oozing out of them every time. And I was like, “Well you can, give it a shot. It’ll grow back if you really don’t like it.” I just sort of felt like it made people kind of look … I became a little bit of a mirror. It made people look up a lot of times, especially in this digital age. Their heads are down in their devices even. So walking around in the street, people would sort of look up suddenly.
I started doing that myself too. My time in New York City, I just realized that after a certain point, not because of this, just at a certain point of my time in New York I realized, “You know what? I’m just moving so fast. Let me look up at the skyline here. Let me look up at the horizon here,” as I’m walking down these concrete jungle streets. It had that effect on people. And also, I got a lot of free head massages, which was great. It was just like the pregnant belly thing, everybody wants to touch it. Most people ask permission, which is great that they should ask.
Linda: I hope so.
Sharon: Yeah. Some people though, they might just reach out and do it. It’s like, “Eh, thank you and don’t do that.”
Linda: Yeah, please stop. (laughs) You look beautiful by the way. I see you’ve chosen to stay bald, it works. I think it’s amazing.
Sharon: Yeah, because I felt like when I got the actual, concrete idea of what I was going to do, I wasn’t quite finished with cancer treatment, I just decided, “Okay, when I finish this little cancer project thing that I’m doing-
Linda: Right, ‘little project’.
Sharon: (laughs) … this little project, this little side job that I’m doing. I’m going to do Bald is Beautiful.” So I felt like I really wanted to commit to it. I had a lot of ideas during my music business days that I set aside, kind of out of fear. I have this great job, it’s a lot of hours, but I love what I’m doing, I believe in what I’m doing but I don’t want to lose the security of a job, all that sort of stuff. I just decided, “You know what? I’m not working right now. I have this idea. I want to go for it.” So I committed at first, “Okay, I’m going to stay bald for a year.” I had this mission statement. I’m going to see what happens and I’m going to check in with myself after a year. Things started building. So I said, “Okay, I’ll give myself until my five-year cancer-free anniversary to decide on what I want to do about my hair,” and all that. By not even close to that, five years was kind of like, “Nah, this is definitely my calling. This is what I want to do. This is my path and I’m very happy about it.” Even though acting, at first, was terrifying.
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My sister, actually, is the one who gave me my first acting opportunity. She put together an ensemble of women called Off the Muff, her response to The Vagina Monologues. It was eight women, all auto-biographical, first person, present tense monologues. She invited me because I was doing a lot of writing and journaling around my ovaries. She invited me to speak about my ovaries, and speak about what I was going through at the time. I white-knuckled it through the entire performance, that first one. At the end she said, “You know, you should really do this.” Her opinion … Not just because she’s an actor, but obviously as my twin. Her encouragement meant everything to me. So I just charged forward like, “Okay, I’m doing this. I’m gonna go for it.”
Linda: I just love how you’re empowering women! Even in the entertainment industry, females are finally rising to the top. The ladies are making their superhero mark in films like Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, Dark Phoenix and Black Widow as well as showing off more and more skills behind the camera. I feel like everything is coming together. Do you feel we are moving in the right direction?
Sharon: Oh definitely. For me, that’s why this works for me on so many levels, being a part of this movie is total, “Sharon Blynn in the pocket!”
Linda: That’s great!
Sharon: It’s Marvel, which is Stan Lee, which is, “Oh my gosh!” Nerdtastically great! As an actor and the level of the people, I get to work with, amazing. And then also, this female-centric thing, not only in general, but it’s the first female lead superhero in the Marvel Universe. It’s the first female director, Anna Boden, with our partner Ryan Fleck. Anna is the first female director in the MCU, which is amazing. And then, all the messaging throughout the movie about our power and owning our power and our voices as women. Not in an anti-guy thing, more just in a positive, empowering way for everyone really.
“And so, it’s my jam on every personal level. So, it just couldn’t be more perfect. I hate using the word perfect, but it really is just in my groove.”
Linda: Well yeah. It seemed like it was that perfect fit.
Sharon: Even my haircut is perfect right? (laughs)
Linda: (laughs) I was already excited to talk to you, but as I kept learning more I just … I love shedding light on these types of things. I wish people would do it more, but we’re heading there, we’re getting there. That’s very exciting.
Sharon: It’s why I started doing what I do. I was like, “Okay, the more visibility I have the more the image is out there.” These interviews are amazing, great, and just visually that just says a lot without having to say anything. So it’s a combination of the two and getting to do both. Especially now at this level, that I hope continues. I mean, I’ve been doing this since 2002, so it’s been quite some years since I started it to be at this point. And so, I’m thrilled, I’m thrilled.
Linda: That’s awesome. Are there other future projects that you have coming up that you’d like to talk about? Do you see yourself behind the camera?
Sharon: You know, I’ve never had any behind the camera aspirations … Well, I can’t say that actually. For me, it’s sort of if the idea comes I try to make it happen. I did shoot this sort of conceptual music video thing, which would take way too long to tell you about. It’s in the can, and I conceived it, [and told] my boyfriend. I was like, “I have this idea and I don’t know.” He said, “Well, storyboard it.” I said, “I don’t know how to draw.” He said, “Sharon, you love comic books, right? Okay, draw some squares and stick figures, and just get it on paper and start it.” And I did it. I was challenged by a friend of mine who I was joking with about this idea I had. She said, “Okay, I’m not letting you get away with not doing it.”
So the experience of actually having an idea, conception, then producing it, directing it. Also, I did star in it. I had friends around me. It was a great feeling. I guess it’s sort of similar to my work in the music business. I had a vision about being in the music business and I took the steps I needed to take. I was working at my dream jobs at Verve and Blue Note, and meeting all these artists that I’d listened to on LPs and CDs my whole life. Then, I had this idea about this crazy Bald is Beautiful thing that I’m going to do, I just kind of charged forward. I guess I seem to do that. I don’t know. Who knows? There’s stuff in the works I guess. No details yet, but people can follow me on social media, as things come up I will make announcements. I’m just really excited about everything that could possibly come out of this.
Linda: That’s awesome.
Sharon: I’d love to do more films, but I’d love to be in my humanoid form, as a biped, I would love to do some of those. Who knows what doors and windows and other things are opened from this wonderful movie (Captain Marvel) that I get to be a part of.
Linda: Well, I’m definitely going to keep track of your social media feed, so I can find out what’s going on. I don’t want to take up too much of your time but I do have to ask you … As a Marvel fan who is your favorite superhero? Do you have one?
Sharon: That is one of the most challenging questions. (laughs)
Linda: I know it is! I know. (laughs)
Sharon: How do you pick one, first of all? As we grow and change and people and are exposed to more in the world, different things resonate with us, as we change as human beings. Right?
Linda: It’s true.
Sharon: So I mean, God, it’s so hard.
Linda: Did you have one when you were younger that is different from now?
Sharon: Ah, that’s so funny. Because now I’m a big kid, nothing’s really changed as far as that goes. I definitely loved Spider-Man, but then Silver Surfer was always … I just felt like, “Gosh, that just looks like so much fun!” As a kid, because I could not rollerskate or skateboard or do all those. So I was like, “Man, I wish I could do that.” But I also really loved The Hulk. Some of the characters also resonate with me, because growing up I was kind of a nerd. I was a nerd and then later I played music, so I was a band geek too. All those things I wear proudly, but other kids didn’t exactly treat it that way. So I always felt like I had sort of an outsider feeling. But those were my superpowers… that’s what always resonates with me with Marvel.
“It’s those things that are considered deficits or things that you’re sort of made fun of for, are the things that make you powerful and great.”
With The Hulk, it’s sort of like, he’s this regular person. Obviously having to be mad brings out this force. He’s this Hulk but he’s good, inside he’s still this force for good and he’s protecting people. I always felt different things I went through in my life… I started out quiet and reserved but only in certain selective moments. If pushed hard enough, I might say something. Someone would finally ask, “What do you think?” And I would say this thing and it would stop people in their tracks. Like, “Where have you been this entire time?” “Oh, I’ve just been watching, just sitting watching.” You know? That kind of energy resonates with me. I also did have a little crush on Bill Bixby. I did love the TV series. The evolution of The Hulk, I don’t know. Then, exciting things are maybe happening with The Hulk in this movie Marvel storyline. So who knows what’s going to happen with him. I found The Avengers: Infinity War story with The Hulk was kind of hilarious. It’s interesting. Okay, what’s going to happen now with this one?
Linda: I think we’re all eagerly anticipating, that’s for sure.
Sharon: Yes, yes. And Black Panther, I didn’t know much about that whole thing at all. I just loved every little thing about it. All the women, by the way, woohoo!
Linda: Beautiful! Oh my gosh.
Sharon: It was awesome.
Linda: Well like I said, I don’t want to take up too much of your time. Thank you so much for chatting with me. It was wonderful. I wish you continued success. Enjoy the ride. I hope to see much more of you!
Sharon: Thank you.
Be sure to catch Captain Marvel in theaters right now! Follow Sharon Blynn to keep up with all her exciting news and updates… Facebook: Sharon Blynn Instagram: @Bald.Is.Beautiful Twitter: @sharonblynn Learn more about her inspiring mission at Bald is Beautiful!