In case you’ve been living under a rock, Glow — the new Netflix original ’80s women’s wrestling comedy from Orange is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan — has taken over televisions across the country with almost universal critical acclaim.
While we’ve talked to several of the show’s stars, from Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin to Marc Maron and even Alex freaking Riley, the heart of the show is in the supporting cast of unique, dynamic actresses who’ve excelled in bringing the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling and the women behind them to life.
One of our very favorites from season one is Britt Baron, the youngest of the Glow girls, who steals nearly every scene she’s in as the goth, B-movie obsessed (and possibly underage) Justine. In real life, Baron has been turning heads as an actress on prestigious stages like Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre and Burban’s Falcon Theatre, as well as popping up in guest roles on shows like Grey’s Anatomy and behind the microphone as a voice actor for games like Halo 5.
We had a chance to talk to Britt about how thoroughly the Netflix take on Glow mirrors the real lives of the actresses involved, being involved in season one’s heaviest spoiler, and what’s under “Scab.”
Note: If you haven’t watched all of season one, be aware that we’re talking about it openly, so watch out for those spoilers!
With Spandex: So how did you get involved with Glow?
Britt Baron: Well, I just auditioned like any other show. You know? I auditioned for the part and then a week later I had my call back. And I think it was a Friday, and I remember my manager calling saying that he got good feedback, and we’ll wait to hear.
Then that Saturday night I was babysitting, and I remember my manager texted me and said, “Hey. Do you have a second to talk? I know it’s Saturday night.” And I was like, “No. I’m putting the kids to sleep. Can I call you back? I’ll call you in like, 20 or 30 minutes.” And he responded with, “K.” Period. And I was like, “Oh my gosh, is he mad at me? Like, what did I do? I must’ve done something. I’m in trouble.” And I called and all my agents were on the phone.
Ha, uh oh.
Then I realized why he was being short with me.
Did you have any idea what Glow was before you auditioned for it?
No. I had never heard of … I mean, I wasn’t alive when it started, but I got the email and they said … They were like, “You know, it’s Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, this was a real thing,” in parentheses. And they had the YouTube clip to one of the raps, you know, the opening credit raps of GLOW, and I remember watching a YouTube clip, and then I got, you know you go down the rabbit hole of YouTube clips of GLOW, and it’s kind of this crazy, campy, show. I had never seen anything like it.
So, that was my only reference point, really. I think I might’ve read the Wikipedia page, and then I just went in. Part of the audition was the scenes, but then also like a mock rap in a character. I think my first one was a cheerleader, and my second one was this punk rock girl, Scab, that’s who I ended up actually playing. I come from a theater background, so I kind of loved it. After watching the YouTube stuff, I was like, “Okay. This totally up my alley.” And I remember I choreographed a whole routine to the rap, basically, and made it as physical as I could, because I knew that it said the actors will be training. They’re actually going to be wrestling, so I wanted to show in my audition, you know, I can do this. I’m down to do this.
Can I tell you how much I love the fact that the first episode of Glow is about a bunch of people showing up, having no idea what Glow is, and auditioning for it? And you got the role on Glow by showing up and auditioning without really knowing what it was about? That’s amazing.
Oh yeah. It’s kind of crazy how much the show parallels what we were going through in real life, actually, because for the most they cast a lot of, a lot of us this is our first real big break, for a lot of the girls. We all kind of showed up.
I remember I got that call Saturday night. I was the last one to be cast. I miss the first day of training because my contract hadn’t gone through, and I remember them saying okay you’re going to start training. I didn’t know what, I thought training meant running through tires and doing 200 push-ups. I didn’t know we were actually going to be learning how to wrestle. I had no expectations, really. I didn’t know what I was getting into. None of the girls knew each other, we were all strangers. And then by the end of the show, by the end of filming we’re like sisters for life. I truly feel that way. We have a group chat that goes off every single day.
But, we didn’t know each other. And by the end of it, now I can do back bumps, and we’re flipping and jumping off the ropes. It’s totally like the show. It’s like the total character arc of what we went through as our characters in a way, which is beautiful, I think, and really cool.
Do you remember your Scab rap?
Oh my God.
I want to hear it if you know it.
“I’m Scab and I’m your worst nightmare. I’ll blast …” [thinking] I know some of the lines are like, “I’ll blast your Beamer …” Something I know in the audition I went, “Rock out your own butthole!” And I remember thinking, I didn’t realize how funny it was. I took it so seriously. I remember in my call back, all of the show runners and Jenji all laughing, and me being like, “Oh. Oh, this is funny.” I took it so seriously that this was the wrestling character. I was trying to really perform. But I guess that’s where the humor comes in. You have to take it seriously as the actor. I remember I was sticking my tongue out a lot, there was a lot of that. Just like, “Yeah. Punk rock.”
So, when you were watching those Glow YouTube clips, did anything stand out to you? Did you have any favorite characters, or jokes, or anything that you saw that kind of stick in your brain?
You know, for some reason The Farmer’s Daughter really stuck out. I thought what a specific, funny, character. But I think what really stuck out to me was how different each character was. I loved that. I kind of felt like watch I started watching the clips, there was something for everyone. That’s what was so cool about Glow. It appealed to everyone. You have Mt. Fiji who you love, and then there’s like MTV which I know was a big deal in the ’80s, even when I was growing up too, but … I mean, after watching the documentary obviously, I loved Mt. Fiji. My boyfriend and I were crying watching it by the end when she shows up.
It’s like, she was so beautiful. And she’s so, I mean I haven’t met her, but she seems so sweet.
But I don’t know. I just liked how different every character was. That’s what I remember sticking out to me, being like, “Oh my God how did they even choose what their alter-ego was going to be?” You know? What a fun kind of project.
So, speaking of pro wrestlers, I know you’ve done a lot of really prestigious stage work, as you mentioned, so what’s it like going from prestigious stage work to training with actual pro wrestlers? Because I know, Kia Stevens is in the cast and she’s a multiple time wrestling champion.
Yeah! First of all, I missed the first day, so I didn’t know who anyone was when we started. Oh my God, I remember that Kia, oh my God, this was so funny … Chavo Guerrero, who trained us, who’s like the most incredible human I’ve ever met in my life. He was such an amazing coach, so positive, just so encouraging to all of us, it made the whole process fun and I loved going to training. He had Kia come up to show him something. I guess they must’ve planned this, and I didn’t know she was a pro wrestler.
So out of nowhere she starts doing all these crazy professional movies, and I remember everyone hysterically laughing because my jaw was on the ground. Because I thought, “Oh my God, did I miss all of this? Or am I just so behind? Does everyone else know what they’re doing and I don’t?” I had a full on panic in my head in that moment, and everyone was laughing. And then they finally told me, “No, no, no. She’s a professional. She’s a professional.”
But it’s funny because Kia, her whole wrestling persona is this scary, like, badass, Awesome Kong, and in real life she’s soft spoken, so sweet, you know, just totally nurturing. It’s kind of opposite of, I think, how she’s recognized in the wrestling community. Kind of what Glow is, too, you know? You have like, an alter-ego, and I guess wrestling in general.
I was really surprised by how funny she is on the show.
Oh, yes, she’s hilarious. She’s so, she is so funny. Even in the trailers, because I haven’t seen what they kept in the show, she cracks me up.
She totally went for it. I remember, she was like … I don’t want to speak for her but I know that she was a little, I don’t know if the word would be intimidated, but she hadn’t really done a lot of the acting side of it, and she totally was, I thought, amazing. Improving all the time, coming up with really funny stuff that wasn’t in the script. So, it was great to work with her. She was our total leader, very encouraging. She was great. She was really wonderful.
Season one starts off very lighthearted, and for most of it I think your biggest story is being in love with a handsome pizza boy, but by the end of it, you’re tackling maybe the most dramatic scenes of the whole season, and you’re one-on-one with Marc Maron. Tell me about shooting those, and the transition to get from one to the other.
Yeah. So the show runners, Liz and Carly, we all had character meetings before we started shooting, and that’s when they told me that I was Marc’s daughter, and that I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone. I shot the whole first season, they didn’t tell Marc either, keeping this big secret, and I am awful at secrets. I actually still haven’t told, I haven’t told my roommate. I haven’t told any of my friends. No one knows except, I think, my mom and my boyfriend right now, and people who have seen it. But it was really good because I had something always in the back of my mind cooking, like from shooting the pilot, ’til the big reveal. I know that it’s kind of I think written in a way where you think Justine’s just in love with him, and a total fan, which she is. But really, the whole time she has blinders on for Sam, because this is her big moment to finally meet her dad in real life.
Shooting that scene, it is totally different than shooting a lot of the other scenes. I remember being on set, and it’s weird when you have scenes that aren’t with 14 other girls because that is just, it’s a totally different vibe, but there’s not a ton of people screaming, and singing. It’s just really me and Marc, and the crew. It’s way more mellow. You know, you just focus.
But everyone was really wonderful. We have such an amazing crew. They were so supportive. So shooting the scene was like, I had been looking forward to it all season. It was like, scary, but also really exciting for me, because finally we get to do this big reveal. I thought Marc was really wonderful. So, yeah, it was really intimate. We shot it in a small bedroom, and wasn’t on the normal set. Everything kind of felt a little bit foreign, but I think that helped motivate the scene.
Again, I love the fact that very much like the audition process, your character has a secret, and you actually have a secret you’re keeping from the others.
Yeah. It’s so crazy. Everything that was happening on the show was kind of happening in real life. It felt so real. The fact that you’re getting … It’s weird. You do feel a little bit dirty. I didn’t like having the secret because I felt like, I almost felt like you’re being dishonest in a way to your friend, you know?
But it totally is what Justine’s doing. You know? They have no idea. These characters have no idea that Justine is Sam’s daughter, and that’s why she’s there. So, I think it helped bring some authenticity to the character, and to the performance.
Yeah. I know you’ve done a lot of voice work, and you’ve done a lot of stage work. So, is there a big difference in your process of when it comes to acting on screen, versus on stage, versus behind a microphone?
Well, they’re just all so different. Voiceover is really nice because you don’t have to memorize lines, you don’t have to hit a mark. There’s no weird hairdo that’s hurting you, or makeup all over your face that’s distracting. It’s really just you and the character, and that’s why I love voiceover work, because you can just kind of disappear. All the rest of the world goes away. There’s no sound guy right off, like, in your peripheral. So that’s the really fun part of voiceover work.
Theater’s so different because you’re doing eight shows a week, and it’s the same show over and over and over again. So, you have to kind of … I feel like it’s like a marathon. You have to have endurance. It’s like an athlete, I felt like, when I’ve done professional theater. You have to rest during the day. It’s a total marathon.
Film is so different because you do these little snap shot scenes and they’re out of order, and you only shoot a few pages in a day, but it takes 14 hours. So, you need endurance, but in a different way because there’s a lot of hurry up and wait doing Film and TV. And when you’re on, it’s hard because you might’ve been there since 5:00 in the morning, but you’re not shooting that scene until 2:00 in the afternoon, and by that point you’re tired and you have to figure out how to, okay, how do I get into this moment, what happened before this … because you’re shooting out of order a lot of times.
It’s a total different skill, but being in Glow really helped me. It was intimidating to me to just be on a TV set before Glow. There’s so many people, and moving parts, and I never really knew where, should I be here, should I be in the makeup trailer, where should I be right now … So, I’m a total newbie, and so were a lot of the girls on Glow, which was great because I didn’t feel, like, that out of place. But now, I feel much more at home. Now I feel like I kinda know what I’m doing.
But it’s different. It’s totally different because you have to find your mark. I had never done that, and sometimes it feels super unnatural the way they’re shooting a scene, but on camera it looks great. And sometimes you’re not even able to look at your scene partner. You have to look at a piece of tape for eye line. So, it’s just a different skill. They’re all different skill sets. Sorry, that was a really elaborate answer, too.
No, that was a beautiful answer, and I’m super happy that you gave it to me. I love learning about it, especially from someone who’s achieving so much so quickly like you are. I know you’ve been doing it for a long, but you’ve also got a hip resume going.
I’m still green. Still a newbie for sure.
So when we set up the interview, I got your bio, and two things stood that I wanted to ask you about. I’ll ask you the serious one first. It mentions that you supported the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and I, especially just last six months, have been really focused on mental health, and sort of getting the word out about not being ashamed of what you feel or what you’re going through. What have you done to support them, and what sort of personal message do you have about that? Because I’d love to hear that, honestly.
Sure, yeah. My cousin, I grew very, very close to my mom’s side of the family. Three girls, my cousin Kelly, who was a year and a half I was closest in age to her, this past March, committed suicide.
Oh my gosh, I’m sorry.
No, thank you. So it just could come from a family with relatively little drama. It was obviously just heartbreaking.
That just inspired me. I got home and I didn’t know what to do. It’s like, almost this thing where I felt, like, at a crossroads. Do I cover this up and pretend like it didn’t happen, or you know, you just say, “Oh she passed.” But I got to the point where I thought, “My God, part of that’s just perpetuating the problem that so many people are suffering from.”
I know so many people, and then once I shared it, I shared what happened to her. I was walking … In October, I think there’s a walk … They have their main walks, that’s their whole thing, the Out of the Darkness Walk., I’m doing a smaller one in Santa Monica, because I just didn’t think emotionally I was ready in May to do the overnight walk. But, I’m doing the walk in Santa Monica in October. I know it’s like a few days after my birthday, and so I started raising money, and I felt like I needed to share her story to help get the word out. My God, like, even if it just reached one person that felt this way.
Because I think part of the problem with mental health, especially, is we are not talking about. It’s just perpetuating this isolating, I’m alone, feeling, especially now with social media, where it looks like everyone’s life is just perfect, and everyone else has their shit together. Well, that’s not the reality. Nobody talks about on social media, I felt really depressed, and really alone, and I don’t know what I’m doing and I don’t have a job and I can’t find a job and I’m still … I’m living alone in this apartment, and everyone else is out hanging out with friends.
It’s such a … I just want to start talking about it, I guess, and that was the first step, sharing what happened, and not lying about what happened to Kelly, because she was sick. She suffered from Bipolar Disorder, and there’s still just no research. My other cousin, my youngest cousin Kara, she’s studying it now, and she’ll be the first to tell you that there’s still so much research that needs to be done, and that starts with awareness and donations.
I’m not going to like, not talk about it, I guess, because I think that’s part of the problem.
I wanted to tell you how much I appreciated you doing that. My best friend actually killed himself in 2001. And it wasn’t until this year that I started dealing with it. So, I really do appreciate that, and thank you for the work that you do.
Oh my God. I’m sorry. Like isn’t that crazy? That’s the craziest part. When you do start talking about it, it’s crazy how many people reach out and say, oh my God, you know my best friend, or my brother-in-law, or my uncle. It’s just, it’s this epidemic. This silent epidemic that nobody … That you just have to suffer and deal with in silence. No. No more. I’m so sorry about your best friend. It’s just, it’s heartbreaking. I don’t know what else to do other than just start talking about it.
Let me change the subject to something a little lighter, now that we discussed the very serious matters. The other thing in your bio that stood out is Disneyland. I’m in Austin, Texas at the moment, and I’m relocating to L.A. this Summer. I’ve only been to Disneyland once. So what’s your expert guide to the best things to do at Disney? I want to hear it.
Oh my Gosh. I think Disney’s got to be really strategic about the Fast Passes. But right now they have the new Tower of Terror ride which is open in Disneyland, I just went on it on Monday.
How was it?
They changed it to Guardians of the Galaxy, so you gotta get a Fast Pass for that because the line is too long. Space Mountain is one of my favorites. Indiana Jones I love. You gotta do like all the big rides. I don’t know, it’s just like the best place ever. I have a whole strategy when it comes to Fast Passes. love it. I think it’s just nostalgic because I grew up going. I got my annual pass. I go probably once a month.
Who’s your favorite character that you run into in the park?
If you ever run into a Mickey that’s dressed classic. You know, in the tux? That’s a rare sighting, and that is a gem. Also, sometimes you’ll see in the park, you’ll see a random Cruella Da Ville, or something that you don’t normally, like a character you don’t normally see. And that’s always just exciting. Because you’re like, oh that’s something other than Cinderella, or Snow White. Or Mulan, I just saw Mulan. I had never seen her in the park before, so that was cool.
Yeah. I went during Halloween, so I ran into a lot of the villains. I ran into like, the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Oh! I love the villains. That’s so cool. I went the day after Halloween this year and it was empty. So, I don’t know if I should give that tip out. But the day after Halloween, nobody’s in the park and they’re changing over to Christmas, but it’s still half Halloween decorations.
I’ll put a spoiler alert on that so no one reads it. It’s early to say, but I’m sure that Glow is gonna be a really big hit. So where do you think the show’s going to take Justine in season 2 and beyond? Where do you hope?
I hope … first of all, it stunk that I was the only one that didn’t get to wrestle.
I see Scab show up a couple of times, but that’s it.
I know. I know and I trained, and I thought I was pretty good, not to toot my own horn, but I could do a lot of those moves. I hope in season 2, if there is one, I would love to see Justine, maybe that outer protective punk rock shell, I would like to see that shattered a bit more, or maybe we get to see a little bit softer side because she is putting on a front. She’s still just a kid. So I would love to get to see her wrestle, see where her relationship with Sam develops, and maybe soften up with the girls a little bit. That would be, you know you get to see that a little bit with Arthie (Sunita Mani) and their roommate situation. Yeah. I’d just like to see her maybe soften up with the other girls.
And I would love to get to wrestle. That would be awesome. So fingers crossed.