Britt Baron didn’t know what to expect when she landed the part of teen goth Justine on GLOW, a Netflix series based on a short-lived 1980s women's professional wrestling program called Gorgeous Ladies of Westling. A relative newcomer to Hollywood, the thought of working with a cast of 14 women sounded terrifying at first. What if no one got along? What if they didn’t like her? But Baron’s fears were quashed almost immediately.
In reality, Baron says, the filming of GLOW mirrored showrunners Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch's fictional narrative. A group of women, from all walks of life, with different levels of experience, come together and support one another for the sake of entertainment. Ultimately, the young actress found a sisterhood on set.
"I would’ve been happy to be on any TV show," she told MTV News over the phone. “But if I was cast as a daughter on a sitcom, there aren’t other people on the set who are my age, or close to my age. It’s just a different dynamic on set. Being with just a ton of women — my god, it’s so awesome.”
Baron chatted with MTV News about her intense training for the series, working opposite Marc Maron, her character’s surprising arc, and how the gorgeous ladies of GLOW became a family.
MTV: Were you all training together like it was portrayed on the show?
Britt Baron: It's actually pretty crazy because what it was like on the show really mirrored what we were going through in real life. They cast a bunch of actors — for most of us, this was our big break — and we knew nothing about wrestling. Outside of Kia Stevens, who is a professional wrestler, we knew nothing. We trained for four weeks together, and then we continued training while we were shooting. So if you weren't in a scene, or if you weren’t shooting that day, you just would have to go to the gym and do training. But it was kinda cool that way because I feel like we went through what our characters go through.
There were times where you all get frustrated, and you're with strangers who are gonna be your co-workers, so you want to put on your best face. But at the same time, you’re doing these incredibly vulnerable, uncomfortable, weird, foreign things with your body. Seeing all of us get frustrated, or vulnerable, when you couldn't get a move down — all of us teared up at a certain point — bonded us because we all supported one another.
MTV: So you trained for about four weeks before you started shooting?
Baron: Yeah. We started training in August. I was cast last, and I missed the first day of training because my paperwork hadn’t gone through, so I started the second day. I didn't know that Kia was a professional wrestler, so they pranked me. Kia did some crazy moves, and my jaw literally dropped. I might’ve asked something like, "Is that what we learned yesterday?" I didn’t know she was a professional!
MTV: Showrunners Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch have talked about how the set was a really warm and open environment. I wanted to get your perspective on that.
Baron: Let me preface this with: I don't have that much TV or film experience. So I probably have a different perspective than people who have been in the business for years and years. But I did know something special was happening. The first day of shooting the pilot we were all encouraged to improv. They were very encouraging of trying different things, going big and bold, and it never felt like artistically and creatively they were trying to tamper the actors down in any way.
It was a show where the women could’ve felt very, very vulnerable because a lot of the girls were in a thong and leotards half the time. It just felt safe, supportive, and so kind. Most of our directors were women, almost all of the writers were women. It just felt — in an industry that often feels like women just exist to be talking, pretty heads — it didn’t feel like that at all. It felt empowering. I don't think that’s the norm in Hollywood.
MTV: It’s interesting that you talk about feeling really safe on set because that's something that I notice watching the show. You can kind of just tell, from a visual standpoint, that GLOW was made by women. The male characters are very male-gazey, but the show is not, because it's made and directed by women.
Baron: That's a really important aspect of the show because it is in the '80s. A lot of that stuff was real — like what Sunita's [Mani] character Arthie goes through when there's a beer bottle thrown at her head, and the way Marc [Maron] talks to all of us girls as if we're just talking heads. That's what the women in GLOW went through. Even in 2017 you see it. It hasn't gone away. There's still men that when you walk down the street, they're like, "Oh, baby yeah. I love that skirt." It's all about moving the needle forward. I love that you see these women take that, and it doesn't deter them. It doesn’t stop them from getting in the ring.
MTV: It's never really about the character they become in the ring, it's always about who they are when they're not in the ring. A lot of people can relate to your character Justine. I've seen a lot of tweets, like, "That is totally me in high school." Did you relate to Justine on a personal level?
Baron: When I got the part, I thought, I cannot believe I was cast as the punk. I was a sorority girl! I was a dancer! I was the first one to choose a leotard to wear. But then I realized, I went through that, too — I painted my nails black, I bought my first pair of Converse, [and] I had the jelly bracelets from Claire's. I went to Bamboozle, I started listening to like Paramore, and all these like kind of fuck-you-mom-and-dad bands. Totally. What I loved about Justine is how, yes, she’s obsessed with these bands and that's her outlet and identifier as a punk, but deep down, she is still just a teenager.
She is still going through all of the same insecurities that everyone does at that age, and I love that she's at that age where you walk that delicate balance between "I know everything about the world, fuck you" and at the same time you know nothing and all you want is to be loved by your family and your friends. People are relating to her because she is so awkward. There are some characters who are loving the attention, and Justine is so uncomfortable in her own skin. I love that because I still feel that way.
MTV: I love that awkward scene with the pizza boy.
Baron: There's that line where she closes the door and she's like, "I like the color black, oh my god. I can't believe I said that." That scene, I loved, because I felt like every girl has gone through this before. Where you text a guy and you’re like, "Oh my god, I can't believe I said that, I’m such an idiot, I’m so embarrassed." That scene is so relatable in every aspect. And oh my god, there’s that one line where I say, "He probably has a girlfriend already, who’s in a band and knows how to give a blowjob without choking." It’s so funny, but it's also so real.
MTV: Did you know when you had signed on to play the role that you were essentially playing Marc Maron’s daughter?
Baron: In my meeting with Carly and Liz before we started shooting, they told me. They weren’t telling Marc, and they didn't want me to tell the other girls. I'm awful at keeping secrets, but I actually did keep this secret. I think the only person I told was my mom, and at one point my manager. But even my roommate didn’t know — I actually don’t think she’s gotten to that episode, so she still doesn’t know. But I’m glad that they told me because it gave me such a clear objective from Episode 1. From the pilot, she’s all googly-eyed over him. It helped my performance.
MTV: As a viewer, you knew there was an ulterior objective because she's such a fan of this B-movie director. She clearly was not doing it for the same reasons the other girls are doing it.
Baron: Prior to me knowing her character was his daughter, when I was thinking about my character I was like, "Why the hell would she be here?" It didn't make sense. The whole idea that she’s a fan of Marc Maron’s character does make sense, but she's not the kind of girl that wants the attention, especially at the beginning. You see her grow a little bit, and I hope that if we get a second season, we see her blossom. Maybe she does really like wrestling.
MTV: And you get a lot of screen time with Marc Maron. What was that experience like, working with someone like Marc? Because I know that this was your first steady gig.
Baron: I was intimidated at first because I know his podcast, all my friends listen to his podcast. I go to the comedy store, and he's there all the time. But you just realize very quickly, these are all real people. Everyone's just a human. Marc has his own problems, his own drama. Once you get to know someone on that kind of personal basis, all that intimidation factor goes out of the way. But Marc is really phenomenal on the show. Getting to work with him and having a lot of my scenes with him was such a blessing. I loved it, secretly. I was like, "Oh my god, this is so chill, Marc is very chill." He never sat with all the girls. He was like, "I'll go crazy if I sit with all you guys." So he kept to himself. But it was really a dream.
MTV: For me, the defining moment of the show is when everyone sings the GLOW theme in the ring. It's such a great moment of sisterhood. Did you have that rapport onscreen as well?
Baron: I'm not lying when I say we are extremely close. We have a group text that goes off every single day. We were sisters. They called it GLOW Alley, where our trailers were, because we were running in and out of each other's rooms, and we have all these songs we made up. It was like a big slumber party. I don't have sisters in real life, and I felt like, "Oh, these are my sisters." This is my family. Being with just a ton of women, my god, it's so awesome. Allie [Alison Brie] and Betty [Gilpin] kind of set the tone. It's easy for the stars to be aloof or have an ego, and neither of them did. They were so supportive and part of the group, so it made it fun for all of us.
MTV: The show also hired actors who didn’t have a ton on their resumes. You're seeing a lot of new talent, and I think that's a really exciting part of the show.
Baron: Going into a cast of 14 women in Los Angeles sounds like a very scary nightmare, initially. Because I thought I was gonna be surrounded by a bunch of pretty girls who were all very competitive and catty and mean and judgmental because a lot of times girls can be like that in a big group. I'm just so frickin' lucky to be with girls who wanted to just love each other, and there was none of that competitiveness. That's really, really rare, especially in a city like this. Los Angeles can be pretty brutal. So I am just so lucky and thank Jenny [Euston], our casting director, for bringing such wonderful women onto the show.