Kate Nash Finds Her Power on Netflix’s ‘GLOW': Interview
Netflix's GLOW exploded onto streaming June 23, leaving in its wake a trail of glitter, Aqua Net and critical acclaim. (The show currently holds a whopping 96% on Rotten Tomatoes.) Set in the 1980s, the neon hued series follows a group of down-and-out actress-turned-rookie women wrestlers who join an up and coming wrestling show called the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, based on the real-life show of the same name.
With her tiny spandex crop tops and suspenders, Rhonda, played by indie punk-pop darling Kate Nash, is GLOW's resident flirt who possesses more complex emotional layers and maturity than her silly, sexy smart girl wrestling gimmick lets on. While her in-ring persona, Britannica, is a bombshell Brit with brains and brawn, Nash plays Rhonda with a sense of effervescent joy and compassion, the kind that is multifaceted and fun to watch.
Nash, a music industry veteran, has dabbled in acting over the years, appearing in a string of minor indie movies and docu-films. None of her previous on-screen projects have been as instantly culturally-charged or contagious as GLOW, which coincidentally showcases girl power as fiercely as the singer-songwriter's personal mission and music.
As GLOW continues to shine and as Nash gears up to celebrate her ten year debut album anniversary, the musician-turned-actress talks her acting aspirations, gushes about working with Alison Brie and explains why her new show is so empowering.
How did you first get involved with GLOW?
I had filmed a pilot for a different project. It was Jenji Kohan’s show The Devil You Know, a show about witches in Salem that didn’t get picked up. And Jenji just really liked my work enough that when she was doing auditions for GLOW, she asked to see me read for Rhonda’s part. That was in August… It was all very late in the game actually, like a lot of us were getting in quite last minute. I think I found out on Wednesday that I’d gotten the part and had to get there [to film] by Monday.
I know all of the characters on the show are fictionalized, but was Rhonda based off of any specific wrestler?
Well, I really liked Godiva in the original show. Like, Rhonda asks for a horse and then in the original GLOW, Godiva ends up entering on a horse. Godiva is American but she plays a British girl with a dodgy accent. [Laughs] She’ll be like, “I just got back from holiday!” In one skit she comes in riding a horse with her suitcase, and another wrestler, Daisy, tries to steal it from her.. I guess there's elements of that within my character a little bit, but none of us were playing the actual girls. We were not actually performing their individual personal stories, but we did obviously get so inspired by the original GLOW because it's just so incredible and wild.
It was interesting, too, figuring out how to play Britannica, Rhonda’s wrestling persona, because it’s not me playing Britannica but Rhonda doing it. That was a really interesting acting thing. It's so weird, the through-line is strange, but once you figure it out it’s really fun to be playing two different people at the same time.
Would you say that was the biggest challenge that you faced during filming? Or was it the physical aspect?
The physical stuff was pretty hard but it was so inspiring and so exciting. We were definitely scared of training for that because it’s quite hard on the body. You’re learning how to do things safely. You are actually learning how to fall and take the hits the right way, like throwing yourself to the ground… I remember when I was first learning the front bump and the back bump. I was kind of waiting for the trick, you know! Then I realized there wasn't a secret to it. You just do it.
The physical sessions really opened my mind to what the possibilities are because I think I've written off being able to do certain things in my life. I can never thought I could do certain things like somersaults and jumping off the ropes and flips. When you actually learn to do it, you're really amazed with what your body can do.
The thing I really love about this show, too, is the ‘80s treatment. I’m a huge fan of the ‘80s, from the fashion to the music. Did you have so much fun just playing with that decade?
Oh my God, it was so fun! Every day one of us was like, waiting for the girls to come out of their trailers and it would be a fashion show every day. We would freak out over the outfits, and the coolest thing about the ‘80s is that was normal back then. It’s just what people wore. It seems insane but it wasn't crazy fashion then. Your mom would dress like that, or your neighbor. It wasn't just crazy fashion people that wore crazy fashion. And Rhonda doesn’t wear a lot. It became very liberating to be wearing minimal clothing, to be honest. [Laughs]
Between that and doing all the physical movements and training, it must have been empowering.
Yeah, it was super empowering. I think there’s something really empowering about being vulnerable in any way and everybody on that show is vulnerable so it's nice to find your power that way.
What was it like working with Alison Brie? I adored her on Mad Men, so this role was a bit unexpected.
She’s so strong, she’s such a good wrestler. She’s such an amazing actress and she's so kind. I love Alison so much. She's such an amazing person!
Since GLOW is so binge-worthy, what other Netflix shows would you recommend?
I love Grace and Frankie! Oh my God, it’s the best show.
You’re primarily known for your music career, but is acting something that you want to keep doing as you move forward? If so, how do you hope to navigate that with the music side?
My music manager and I are going to decide when to begin rolling out my album, because it depends on whether or not the show gets a second season and when that might start shooting. It’s just an issue of scheduling things out and making things work. I definitely want to be acting and I'm really happy that I found the opportunity to do it. I attempted to act for so long and I feel like this is so special. Like, I didn’t get the other jobs because this is the best one in the whole world! [Laughs]
When I found out GLOW was about women wrestlers, I was like, “This is so perfect for Kate!” It’s super feminist.
Yeah! I was just kind of like, “Holy s---, this is somehow my dream job that I didn’t know was my dream job!” It’s about an outsider and these powerful women finding their way with their bodies and being empowered. It’s something so different that I’d never seen before. It’s such a special show. The women I have met on this show have become my solid closest friends and it's a real sisterhood that we have. We're all on group text! We all see each other all time if we’re in town. We are all emotional and share personal s--- with each other. We can talk openly about the show and share our feelings… I think that's the greatest thing that's come out of it, because we all can support each other.
It sounds like you have created a really safe, supportive space.
I think that's so important especially when you're doing things that are dangerous. It's tough, you know. Some of the s--- we’re doing is scary and then you just have like a dozen girls cheering you on. They’re like, “You can do it! Don’t quit!” It’s like you have your own cheerleaders. We’re a team.
Aside from the success of the show, you also ran a very successful Kickstarter campaign to fund your next album. What was that experience like?
It was so cool. I mean, it’s a stressful experience all the way through until you finish. It’s really nerve wracking because you just want to raise as much as you can. It was amazing. I had 200% funded. It’s great to be able to find a way to release your music and do what you want to do artistically and not have to just worry about being accepted by the major label industry. It’s so cool I found a way to do that.
What do you have planned now that your campaign is over?
I’m going to release the album before February. I also have a tour in August! It’s the anniversary of my first album, Made of Bricks. Tickets are on sale now!
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