‘Glow’ Star Britt Baron On Channeling Joan Jett, Embracing Imperfections

‘Glow’ Star Britt Baron On Channeling Joan Jett, Embracing Imperfections

Actress Britt Baron is the polar opposite of her Glow character, Justine Biagi. As the resident punk rocker on the Netflix dramedy about the first-ever women’s wrestling TV show—inspired by the real-life Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling league of the ’80s—Justine rocks ripped tees, Converse sneakers and flaunts a deep knowledge of all things punk rock.

In-person, Baron is more smile-y and wears less eye-liner than her on-screen counterpart. She’ll also be the first to admit that she was taught to be an overly polite and modest woman, whose mom wouldn’t let her pursue acting until she was an adult. For Glow, the Connecticut native also switches up her brunette tresses for a shaggy black coif and took cues from rock god Joan Jett, who scored a Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 with 1982′s “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” alongside her band, The Blackhearts.

When it came time to grapple in the ring, professional wrestler Chavo Guerrero, Jr. (whose uncle, Mando Guerrero, trained the original Glow cast) served as the fight coordinator for the Glow squad, chock full of wrestling newbies including Baron herself. She trained for a month alongside a diverse group of women, whose wrestling personas were mostly based off of stereotypes. In season 1, viewers are introduced to a range of characters including Fortune Cookie, who is played by an Asian woman named Jenny, and the blonde and bodacious Debbie, who assumes the role of All-American diva, Liberty Belle.

Glow also pays homage to the decade with Patty Smyth, Patti LaBelle and Journey songs to soundtrack each episode. To help Baron get into Justine mode, one of the show’s directors and former member of The Lemonheads, Jessie Peretz, gave her a punk rock playlist filled with The Ramones, Motorhead, Germs and more. Scroll through Baron’s personal playlist and it leans more towards Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé.

Baron recently swung by TIDAL HQ and got candid about learning wrestling moves, channeling Joan Jett, embracing imperfections, and women in TV kicking ass. 

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Did you have any personal wrestling ties before you took on Glow?

I had no reference of wrestling prior to the show. We started training for four and a half weeks before we started shooting and I thought training was going to be running through tires and pumping iron. I didn’t realize we were gonna be learning actual wrestling moves so most of us knew nothing, besides Kia Stevens, who’s a professional wrestler. It was beautiful because we were mirroring what our characters are doing and the real Glow girls were all actresses who just auditioned for [the league in the '80s] and knew nothing about wrestling, even when they were performing.

Ultimately, I fell in love. It’s like a bug you catch and prior to wrestling, I didn’t think it was for me. When you learn that’s it’s actually teamwork and you’re both working together to sell these moves, it’s a beautiful thing. It’s a sport and theatrical. It’s right up my alley.

How did you get into acting?

My whole life. I started in a mini-mystery summer camp when I was in first grade. I think I was always theatrical when I was a child. I loved putting on shows. I loved dress-up. I loved playing pretend. I asked my mom if I could audition in New York. I wanted to be a child actress and she worked in [public relations] when she was in her 20′s. She was like, “No, no. You’re gonna be a normal child. You’re gonna learn how to ride a bike and if you still want to be an actor when you’re an adult, we will support you and help you out.” I did mostly high school and community theater then I went and got a BFA [Bachelor of Fine Arts degree]. I was a hardcore theater girl.

Glow is set in the ’80s. What were some of the songs you were listening to on set? 

Justine’s haircut was based off of Joan Jett so I fell in love with her. I went down the YouTube rabbit hole of interviews. Jessie Peretz, who directed our pilot and episode 7, used to be in The Lemonheads, so he made me a whole playlist with the Germs and Black Flag. I went to The Ramones exhibit downtown at the Grammy museum that was happening in the fall when we were shooting. I really loved Joan Jett because I’m on this feminist show and she’s this badass rock ‘n’ roll, didn’t care that she was a woman, didn’t let that stop her so I thought that Justine would emulate her because she had the Joan Jett haircut. I definitely got my taste in the punk rock scene. She had the best t-shirts on the show. A lot of people have been reaching out to me like, “Are you kidding me? How’d you get that?” Poor costume designer. She surprisingly spent the most money on some of the band t-shirts that I wore because they’re so rare.

What would you consider your independent woman anthem?

Maybe “Feeling Myself” by Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj. It’s just all about embracing yourself. I feel like as a woman, at least in my experience, I was raised to be overly polite, always modest, always [say] “Yes ma’am,” never outspoken, and so I struggled sometimes with owning my own accomplishments with confidence. I watched interviews of Nicki Minaj and she’s really incredible in the sense that she tells young women to not be afraid to speak up just because you’re afraid of being called a bitch. That’s what happens a lot of times for women.

I feel like a lot of Nicki Minaj’s songs and even when she speaks to the public, it’s about not caring what the haters are going to say. You can’t live your life afraid of what backlash you’ll get. If anything, just let that fuel your fire. So as a timid girl from Connecticut, I am someone who tries to take that and embrace that as much as I can.

What songs would you listen to while training?

We didn’t really listen to music when we were training for Glow. It was more like class. Chavo Guerrero Jr. trained us. He’s famous. His family is like a wrestling dynasty. He’s also the greatest person I’ve ever met in my life. And his uncle [Mando Guerrero] trained the original Glow girls so it came full-circle. We didn’t have music because he was really training us, talking to us, making sure we were doing everything safe like a get in the zone kind of thing.

Describe the moment you felt like you got along with the cast on a personal level.

I don’t know if there was a definitive moment. It was during training I would say because we met each other a month before we started filming. None of us knew anything about wrestling and learning how to wrestle is hard in the beginning because you have no basics. We would start with back bumps, which is falling onto your back, and hurts the first 15 times. We would learn early in the morning. It’s just you’re with all these new coworkers, you have your dream job, the last thing you want to do is look vulnerable and frustrated. I think each one of us on a different day, on different move couldn’t do something and were frustrated or embarrassed ‘cause you don’t want to be vulnerable in front of your new friends. I’ve never had to be in someone else’s crotch or armpit before I knew their last name.

If you could pick a song to soundtrack that friendship, what would it be and why?

Spice Girls “Wannabe” is such a great anthem about female friendship. It’s about standing up for yourself and each other, having one another’s back, and holding each other accountable. That’s what it means to be a Gorgeous Lady of Wrestling.

What’s one lesson you learned from Jenji Kohan?

Man, I mean respecting women. She gives a platform to women that has never been given to them before and I think it’s stories that have not been told. It’s women of all different sizes, races and ages with different experiences coming together in situations they would never be before and she just brings out the beauty of the female race. I mean that in a sense that, there’s no shying away from imperfections. I think that what’s beautiful about the characters in Glow or Orange [Is The New Black], you fall in love with them because they’re not perfect, they’re learning, and they work through their imperfections. That’s real. You see that in Glow and a lot of her work, and I love that she gives that opportunity. It’s not just walking models who you’re supposed to watch and idolize. It’s real women that you can relate to. It’s not putting women on this unrealistic pedestal. It’s just revealing real characters and embracing imperfections. There’s not enough of that in this industry.

What makes now such a great time to be an actress in this space where it feels like women are finally being embraced and represented diversity-wise? 

There’s so much content being made which is exciting as an actor. But the fact that there are now roles of women who aren’t just crying pretty or talking softly or they’re pining after a man, waiting to come save her. Even with 13 Reasons Why, I was thinking about growing up and I didn’t have that. I watched Gossip Girl and The OC, which are great shows but it’s like I don’t look like that. I’m not a walking model that talks. These are real dynamic women and with Glow specifically, what’s amazing about wrestling is that it’s not about being pretty, it’s not about is this a good angle for my face? It’s about being fierce and primal and animalistic in a way, fighting and being strong in a way that women are never allowed to be in the media. I mean there’s still a long way to go but I’m happy to be a part of a show that’s pushing that needle forward. I think the warm reception to all of these shows shows there’s not enough of this. We’re starving for it.

Listen to Britt Baron’s trailer tunes and life anthems on TIDAL below and catch Glow on Netflix.

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