In the entertainment industry, representation matters, and not just in front of the camera. During a Variety Actors on Actors conversation with Jessica Biel on June 6, GLOW star Alison Brie shared how having women behind the scenes on the Netflix show made things different from other projects she's worked on. GLOW changed how Alison Brie thought of her body — and it sounds like it's because she was primarily working with women on the show.
Brie told Biel that while she and the other actors do their own wrestling stunts for the show, there was no body-shaming involved. Speaking about GLOW, she said to Biel,
"The first thing that they told everyone is 'We want you to be able to do your own wrestling. It's very important to the show, we want you guys to be able to do your own moves, but we don't want you to change your bodies. We want all different body types represented on this show, we cast you, we like you for who you are. It really was a different way of thinking about my body as a woman in this industry, coming from years of thinking, 'I have to be really skinny to get a part, I have to be really sexually appealing for men to want to cast me.' And this felt much more geared toward strength, and it really changed the way I was working out and I was training."
Brie's comments are refreshingly candid. How great would it be if women never felt like they had to change their bodies to appeal to men for roles? Still, her story about GLOW is a great example of why it's so important to have diversity behind the scenes, in addition to in a show or movie's casting.
In an interview with Vulture last June, Brie shared that she had to fight to be cast as Ruth in the Netflix series. Brie explained to the outlet that her character was "not meant to be conventionally attractive." She also explained to Vulture that seeing the casting crew's doubts about her only made her want the role more. Brie told Vulture,
"To me, the fact that they didn't think I was right for the role made me want to do it even more, because I was really looking to showcase the different sides of myself and prove to the world that I can play a different type of character. It was an amazing clue that they were like, 'We don't think you're capable of this.' And I'm like, 'I'm going to prove you wrong.'"
Brie eventually won the show over, of course, and it sounds like GLOW has been a fulfilling experience for her in a variety of ways. The show (and its real-life source material) may be controversial with some of the wrestling stereotypes that appear in the show. But it sounds like the actual process of making it has been empowering in plenty of ways, too.
In an interview with IndieWire last June, GLOW star Betty Gilpin shared a similar sentiment to Brie's recent statements. Gilpin told the outlet that she'd auditioned for roles that were demeaning to women in the past, but the Netflix series was different.
"To get health insurance, you give up your dignity — that's what I thought being an actor was," Gilpin told IndieWire. "So when GLOW came along, I was shaking reading it because I hadn't really allowed myself to dream of a show like this."
Hopefully, other showrunners will take a cue from Brie and Gilpin's statements, and from GLOW's success. There's plenty of room in the TV landscape for roles that aren't sexist. And having more women behind the scenes is always a good idea.