How Sheila The She-Wolf From 'GLOW' Found The Freedom To Be Herself, Thanks To An Actual Wolf
Spoilers ahead for GLOW Season 3. Sheila's wrestling persona has always been more than a costume to her, but in GLOW Season 3, she starts to discover more sides of herself. She's got a chance for a fresh start in Vegas and she runs with it, leading to a transformative journey in which she finally lets people see what's beneath her feral wig and raccoon eyes. It's not that her She-wolf identity is no longer a part of her; she just no longer feels the need to express it externally. "I think [Sheila] knew that she wanted a change," GLOW star Gayle Rankin tells Bustle of her character. "Especially being out of L.A., it's almost like being able to try on a whole different life somewhere else. But maybe one that she was aware of in some way."
Sheila's transformation starts to unfold after she meets Bobby, a drag performer at the Fan-Tan Hotel and Casino where GLOW is staging its Las Vegas residency. He seems to see her in a way no else has before, and alone in his dressing room after a show, she tearfully takes off her wig and lets him brush it. They become fast friends.
"There's something familiar and complicated," Rankin says of their relationship. "They have something quite similar that is on top, that they express in a different way and don't necessarily get vulnerable with everyone. But when they do get vulnerable they use it to expose themselves. So they're kindred spirits."
Bobby doesn't encourage Sheila to abandon her She-Wolf persona entirely, but he does peel back some of her layers. Midway through the series, when the wrestlers decide at the last minute to switch around their roles and try new characters, he helps her create a Liza Minelli impression that shocks and delights both the crowd and her teammates.
The real turning point, though, comes in Episode 6, when Sheila makes a pretty drastic decision to not only take off her wolf costume, but burn it entirely. It's triggered by an encounter with a wild wolf in the desert. Finally, she's with her kind — but the wolf turns away and seemingly rejects her. It doesn't "get" Sheila the way Bobby does.
"When I first read it I was devastated," Rankin explains. "I [felt] like the wolf was turning away from [Sheila]; but I think how Sheila found it was that the wolf is not turning away from her, it [was] giving her permission — inviting her to go forth, and be brave, and try. The wolf is letting her go, letting her be free."
By the end of the season, Sheila has really embraced that freedom — which has, in turn, allowed her to come into her own as an actress. She's now able to look beyond the wolf and wholly embody whatever character a script demands. And outside of the ring, she's happy to sport her platinum blonde bob and a simple, black-rimmed eye. If GLOW continues, fingers crossed that this storyline continues with it. Sheila is only just beginning to discover who she is.