What the cast of GLOW looks like in real life

Do you love great acting? A bit of '80s fashion leotard flare? How about weird and wonderful writing paired with badass female wrestling moves? Yes, I bet you probably do. Add in the fact that this based-on-a-true-story Netflix Original is made by some of the same people who brought you Orange is the New Black and Homeland, throw in a few rhinestones and cheating drama, and you have a pretty accurate description of the killer new series GLOW.

The letters of GLOW stand for the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling. And according to Netflix Media, the show, which is set in Los Angeles in the '80s, was "Inspired by the real story of the 1980's female wrestling league." The real triumph of the time and setting of the show is all the opportunity for over-the-top hair, spandex, and blue eyeliner that comes with a period show about women wrestlers. 

It is so much fun to look at the wild-as-can-be hair, makeup, and costume looks that the characters sport, and then to see what these lovely ladies actually look like in their everyday lives ― more proof of the power of hair and makeup.

Alison Brie (Ruth "Zoya the Destroya" Wilder)

You may know the lovely and talented Alison Brie best from her role as prim and proper Trudy Campbell on Madmen, or as the uptight, kind hearted Annie Edison on Community. But Brie really gets to shine as the star of GLOW, where audiences get to see her in a whole new light. Even though Brie's character appears topless twice in the first episode, and in a very skimpy '80s leotard in subsequent episodes, Brie called her character "sexless" in an interview with A.V. Club.

In opposition with many of the other more "bombshell" characters, Brie is shot wearing no makeup at all in almost every scene besides the final wrestling performance, where she is glammed up in blue sparkles and giant hair. This make-under when compared with her normal actress levels of hair and makeup ended up giving Brie a sort of "empowering" experience, she told interviewers, saying, "[it] affected me as a person, not wearing makeup at all every day on set, and carrying myself a little differently and wearing ill-fitting clothes some of time. Not being looked at that way was actually very freeing and empowering."

What's the most notable difference for viewers between Brie's character, Ruth, and her everyday style? Probably the giant '80s hair with Farrah Fawcett waves. It's not to be missed.

Betty Gilpin (Debbie "Liberty Belle" Eagan)

When interviewers at Refinery29 asked Betty Gilpin to describe her character, she answered saying, "I play Debbie Eagan, who is a former soap actress, new mother, and thought she felt powerful before but is learning that she has a deeper, more powerful power." 

And in an interview with A.V. Club, Brie described Gilpin's character as "someone who has been a successful actress and has a bombshell body, and every time you see her she's in full hair and makeup." This description is not too far off from Gilpin's actual life, though most of her roles, like playing Audrey in American Gods, feature a more "no-makeup" makeup look, she always looks well-coiffed, though not so "flashy" as her '80s soap opera actress character in GLOW.

Sydelle Noel (Cherry "Junkchain" Bang)

Sydelle Noel, a former professional track athlete turned model and then actress after an injury, plays Cherry Bang, athletic and stunt trainer, and fellow wrestler to the women in the show. She discussed her dynamic career path in an in-depth profile with Interview Magazine, where she also talks about taking on the challenge of doing her own stunts. So while both Noel and her character, Cherry, are badasses at all-things-athletics, their way of styling their appearance is not so similar.

While Cherry's choice of clothes and attitude in the series tend to be more on the gruff, practical side, Noel can be seen in her press pics, and in her photoshoot for Interview Magazine, laughing and stunting in various states of gorgeous and fashion-forward looks.

Britney Young (Carmen "Machu Picchu" Wade)

Britney Young, who plays a professional wrestler's daughter Carmen (and "Machu Picchu" in the ring), was a cheerleader in high school, but found her way to acting, in part, through a position as a production assistant for shows like The Mentalist and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. 

She told Vulture about this compelling journey in a recent interview where she also discussed her similarities and differences with the character of Carmen. "I just love Carmen. I love that people are relating to her," Young told interviewers. "And I think I related to her a lot, the aspect of, this is someone who was scared to follow her dream and now that she is finally doing it, she wants to put her full force into it, and if you're not gonna support her, then she doesn't need you to be there dragging her down."

But Young doesn't see herself and her character as being totally comparable. "I don't experience the anxieties that she has," explained the breakout star. "I have anxieties but it's not about the same thing she has, you know? She's got stage fright. Mostly she's not used to being the center of attention. I'm more outgoing." I think we can expect to see more and more from this new and compelling actress.

Kate Nash (Rhonda "Britannica" Richardson)

If you've seen the show and thought you might have recognized the striking, red-headed beauty who plays Rhonda, you're probably right. Kate Nash, who plays Rhonda "Britannica" Richardson in GLOW, is probably best known for her career as a successful English indie-pop singer and musician.

Nash may be a better musician in real life than she is a wrestler, but her fun, flirty, colorful persona seems to share a lot with her character, Rhonda, even beyond their shared love of bright red lipstick. Nash even told interviewers at PopCrush that wearing so little and being vulnerable on the show "became very liberating… to be honest."

Nash's character may seem provocative in her crop-tops, shortie-shorts, and giant Aqua Net bangs, but the singer's appearance may be even more whimsical and idiosyncratic in real life. She loves to change up her hair color from the red she shares with Rhonda, to blonde, to black, to streaked and neon, as you can see on her lively Instagram page, along with some seriously whimsical and colorful outfit choices.

Britt Baron (Justine "Scab" Biagi)

Britt Baron, who plays Justine on the show, may not be exactly like her runaway teen character, but she seems to have adopted her music tastes. In a 2017 interview with Arcadia Magazine, the young actress said she was "… embarrassed to say I really knew nothing about punk rock. I grew up listening to Britney Spears and NSYNC, so I had a lot of work to do to understand Justine," who presents herself as a squarely punk rock, black eyeliner-wearing pseudo-rebel.

Baron, who prior to her breakout casting in GLOW did things like babysit on a Saturday night, studied to play her character by making sure she got the right musical education to match the 1980s Los Angeles setting of the show. In addition to studying The Ramones, she told Arcadia that she also "… went down a rabbit hole of YouTube videos on Joan Jett (who I now idolise)." This is a trait she now shares with Justine, as her "hair was also cut and dyed jet black to look like Joan Jett." 

While Baron is not normally seen in the same black eyeliner and Joan Jett hair as her character (she appears in much more soft, traditionally feminine styling in her interview photoshoot) she did admit, "I loved wearing black converse… I think I even have a photo of my costume converse next to my real ones in my trailer, and you can't tell the difference between the two." Is anyone else jealous she gets to wear converse to work?

Kia Stevens (Tammé "The Welfare Queen" Dawson)

Kia Stevens may not wear the same bright blue eyeliner, giant teased hair, and extra large hoop earrings as her character Tammé, but this star has the distinction of being the only female member of the GLOW cast to be an actual professional wrestler. In an interview with Ring Rust Radio, the former WWE star talked about her great experience acting for GLOW. "I absolutely want an acting career," she said. "I appreciate what I've done in wrestling, but telling the story that we've told in GLOW and having the experience I've had with the people I've had it with leaves me wanting more."

Her in-show wrestling persona, "Welfare Queen," highlights an unflattering and unfounded stereotype about black women that gave both Stevens and Tammé pause. Slate reported that in the show Tammé expresses concern to her boss that her son might not respect her decision to play a "welfare queen." 

Stevens told TV Guide that she once experienced a similar dilemma, having been given the name "Amazing Kong" when she worked for All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling and "Awesome Kong" when she worked for TNA Wrestling, which could be taken to express another negative stereotype about African Americans. "I decided, and I believe [Tammé] would identify with what I did, [to] take that name and own it and make it mean something of respect. So when you heard the name Amazing Kong, you respected that name." And if you watch the awesome performance of her character on GLOW, there's no way you'll come away without giving this talented performer the respect she deserves.

Kimmy Gatewood (Stacey "Ethel Rosenblatt" Beswick)

Kimmy Gatewood, who auditioned and was cast together with her real-life comedic team partner, Rebekka Johnson, actually grew up watching the original Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling show that the Netflix series is based on, so she says she already "understood the theatrics of it," according to an interview with Yahoo! TV. Gatewood explains that the kind of physical sketch comedy and wild costumes the original wrestlers partook in is just the kind of thing she and Johnson have spent their careers on.

And while both Gatewood and her character Stacey share short, platinum blonde locks, and aren't afraid of fun patterns in their choice of outfits, Stacey's look is decidedly more "edgy" with mercilessly teased hair and a side-shave on her scalp, along with daring '80s makeup and evocatively bold accessories.

Rebekka Johnson (Dawn "Edna Rosenblatt" Rivecca)

Gatewood's professional partner Rebekka Johnson, who plays Dawn, may generally be seen in classic, feminine looks, she is definitely not afraid of camp. According to their co-interview about GLOW in Yahoo! TV, for their audition the pair "put on the most unflattering '80s jeans, and did our hair in the ugliest '80s way. I would say our gorgeousness shone through in our performance, but our outward appearance looked absolutely ridiculous!"

Her final styling and wardrobe that appeared in the show could also definitely be described as "campy," with tons of leopard print, chunky accessories, and a hairstyle that can only be described as an asymmetrical side mullet.

Sunita Mani (Arthie "Beirut the Mad Bomber" Premkumar)

Sunita Mani, an actress with a comedic background, was formerly best known for her role on Mr. Robot, as well as guest-starring roles on shows like Person of Interest and The Good Place. Now she plays the cash-strapped medical student, Indian-American Arthie Premkumar, who takes on the role of the wrestler "Beirut the Mad Bomber" in order to pay her school bills. 

As Slate reported, her character, who isn't even Arab, is "is dismayed at being heckled as a 'towelhead' by audience members during her performance as 'Arab Bomber.'" Similarly to Stevens, Mani had to grapple with the experience of playing an offensive stereotype, and not being sure how it would be viewed.

Mani, who in real life is seen without the fake, racist turban, blacked-out eye makeup, and enhanced bushy eyebrows, told interviewers at NYLON, "For me, I'm playing a new-to-acting Indian-American woman who is stereotyped and cast as an Arab, and thusly a terrorist, but I am also, as an Indian-American, playing a stereotype to make a comment on it," she said, adding that she was excited to get to know the role "even though I can't always pinpoint how I feel about it. I went from being nervous to play a loaded stereotype to being very ready, like, 'Let's do this.'"

Gayle Rankin (Sheila the She-Wolf)

Gayle Rankin's physical transformation to play Sheila the She-Wolf is probably one of the most striking on the show. This talented Juilliard graduate was described in a W Magazine profile as having a "porcelain face, [cropper] white-blonde hair, and delicate, expressive eyebrows," which made the actress look "rather like a silent movie star." 

This description, along with the article's accompanying glamour shots, is a stark contrast to the matted, frizzy mass of black hair, sharp animalistic expression, and heavily-smudged, wild looking black smokey eye makeup the She-Wolf wears in every scene of the show.

As opposed to her fellow characters, her wrestling persona is not exactly an act for the idiosyncratic Sheila. Instead, it's revealed in the show that character has been living "as a wolf" for years. As Rankin told W Magazine, her character is "… suffering from 'species dysmorphia—she believes she is a wolf,'" and had been dressing and acting the part long before her character attended the casting call.

Getting your GLOW on

Fans of the show can rejoice, as Netflix has just recently announced via the show's official Twitter page that the show has been successful enough to earn a second season. Though the release date isn't out yet, supporters of empowering stories about women will be happy that GLOW is one of many female-centric shows and movies that have been recently finding success, even with mainstream audiences. 

GLOW does, however, hold the distinction of being called a "smartly-plotted… funky female-ensemble action-comedy" with "glitzy verve," by The New Yorker, which also said it was "a carbonated blast, ten episodes of pure Silly String joy," and I couldn't agree more. If you haven't yet, watch GLOW on Netflix and join the conversation.