Alison Brie on the GLOW Cast’s Request for Better Representation

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GLOW is one of my favorite shows of the last few years. Every single season felt fun and fresh, pushed boundaries and highlighted character arcs that transcended the screen. The show racked up 15 Emmy nominations and three wins, and it also scored two nominations for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. It was a special one in many respects, but that didn’t stop Netflix from canceling it in early October due to the pandemic.

GLOW had been renewed for a fourth season and even completed filming one episode, but then the shutdown happened and resuming production while adhering to COVID safety protocols just wasn’t an option for a show with a large ensemble filming in Los Angeles that involved so much close contact. While it is a huge disappointment that we won’t get to see certain storylines through to fruition, one of the most unfortunate things we won’t get to see in Season 4 is how Netflix and the showrunners were addressing a call for better representation. Soon after the cancelation was announced, it was revealed that cast members Sunita Mani, Sydelle Noelle, Britney Young, Kia Stevens, Ellen Wong and Shakira Barrera had penned a letter to Netflix, the producers and show creators about the matter and, as Mani’s Instagram post on the topic states, “Our show creators and producers HEARD US. They were in the process of making Season 4 reflect some of the systemic problems we outlined.”

Image via Netflix

It’s such a shame we won’t get to see the on-screen results of a group of individuals being brave enough to speak up and the higher-ups actually prioritizing making changes based on their stance. But, even though GLOW was cut short, the importance of Mani, Noelle, Young, Stevens, Wong and Barrera taking this initiative could and should inspire others to follow suit, so it felt vital to continue the conversation during our episode of Collider Ladies Night with GLOW’s Alison Brie. Here’s what Brie said when asked what it was like watching her co-stars speak up:

“It was absolutely a beautiful thing. To be fully honest about it, I wasn’t privy to a lot of those conversations that were going on behind the scenes, and rightly so, because that really is not my place and those conversations were for those members of our cast to have directly with our showrunners and directly with Netflix. And I feel so proud of them for making their voices heard. I know that it took a lot of courage. And any actor can tell you, especially if you’re still recurring on a show, if you’re not in the top three on the call sheet, it can feel very precarious. It can feel really dangerous to speak up about anything, and I think that what they did is such a sign of the way things are changing for the better.”

Brie also took a moment to highlight how showrunners Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch value standing by what they say they stand for:

“I think it just took an immense amount of bravery for those women to come together and have a really honest conversation about how they were feeling, a really emotional and vulnerable conversation about how they were feeling, but not just that, but also suggestions of how they thought the show could be changed for the better. And I also think a lot of credit is owed to Liz and Carly. I just admire them so much for always being the type of women who are open to growing and changing and learning and admitting when they’ve made made mistakes and wanting to make the show better and wanting to change perspectives. It made me even more proud to have worked with them and to have worked on a show that has a cast that’s filled out by Britney and Sydelle and Suni and Shakira and Kia and Ellen who had the courage to write that letter, but also showrunners who really stand by what they say they stand for and were willing to make those changes.”

Image via Netflix

On a personal level for Brie, as one might imagine, it’s tough saying goodbye to GLOW, but Brie is holding tight to all of the growth she got to experience over the course of its three-season run:

“It’s so sad in one respect because it’s just my most favorite job I’ve ever done. The way in which it’s not sad is, in just three seasons I’ve gotten so much from the show. When I say the show was life changing for me, [it’s] just on every level! On a personal level in terms of my self confidence, my relationship with my body. On a professional level, getting to be a number one on a show, getting to direct, as a leader. Also to work with all these women. It inspired me to start writing and producing … There’s so much that I already got from it. I feel like I got to hone my acting with incredible actors like Betty Gilpin who is also the love of my life and it’s like it brought me to my soulmate in her, and also Liz and Carly who hopefully I can work with again. It feels so greedy to be like, ‘And I need one more!’ But of course it’s sad. I have such a kinship for my character Ruth, and especially her relationships with Betty Gilpin’s character, Debbie, and Marc Maron’s character, Sam. I was sort of like, how are things gonna end with those two? How is her story gonna end? It’s especially bittersweet because I got to have those conversations with Liz and Carly about what might happen over the course of the season, and we did shoot a couple episodes that no one will ever see.”

Does not officially wrapping up Ruth’s journey make it more difficult for Brie to close the book on this character and move on to the next? While it may be a “bittersweet” situation, Brie is able to put the cancelation into perspective and suspects that recognition of the state of our country will help her make the transition:

“What I will say is, this year has put everything in perspective, hopefully for a lot of people. I think this pandemic, this disease, these things that are happening in our country and things with Black Lives Matter, there are so many things going on, there are so many important things going on that deserve attention. I think that a lot of us are gonna go into next year feeling like totally different people. I feel like I’ve already changed a lot just in the span of the last eight months given everything that we’ve gone through as a country and in quarantine, and on a macro and a micro level within my own home and family and things like that, so in that way, I actually think it makes it easier to move on because it also doesn’t feel personal. A lot of shows are falling by the wayside because of COVID restrictions and expenses and the danger of trying to get back into production, so I feel like I’ll be ready to move on to something else.”

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If you’d like to hear more from Brie, you’re going to want to keep an eye on Collider because we’ll have her full Ladies Night interview for you closer to Happiest Season’s November 25th debut on Hulu.

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