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If there’s one takeaway for Betty Gilpin about GLOW nabbing 10 Emmy nominations on Thursday, it’s that female-dominated shows are on the rise.
“I think we’ve learned this is not a phase or a trend,” Gilpin, who was nominated for her supporting role as Debbie Egan, tells The Hollywood Reporter of the recognition for GLOW, which has a 15-woman ensemble. “We’re going to be loud in tribute to the generations of women before us who may have been either too afraid to be loud, or were loud in a time when it wasn’t as in vogue as it is now.”
In addition to a nomination in the coveted best comedy series category, GLOW earned nods for hairstyling, makeup and stunt coordination, as well as giving first-time nominee Gilpin her nod. “The thing that was so meaningful to us — aside from the nomination for the show and the nomination for Betty — was the fact that we had so many of our crew nominated,” co-creator Carly Mensch tells THR. “There are so many people who work their asses off on this show who come in every day with so much passion, dedication and who do so much work. I was so thrilled for the number of nominations and the level of recognition.”
Though GLOW recently dropped its second season in June, the 2018 Emmy Awards are the first eligible year for the series. The newcomer walked away with 10 noms for its first season, putting the comedy in the top 15 ranking of shows with multiple honors and helping Netflix to topple HBO in total nominations for the first time in 18 years. For Flahive and Mensch, who created the series that is exec produced by Orange Is the New Black‘s Jenji Kohan, it was easier to go into nominations day assuming they would be shut out. “We’re just such an underdog show,” Mensch explains. “GLOW is a show about underdogs, we’re just starting to get some attention now. So we’re kind of getting used to it.”
The pair does, however, recognize the shift in the best-comedy category, where they are also joined by female-led shows Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Tina Fey’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
“If you have more female showrunners and more female creators, you’re going to have more female stories,” says Flahive. “Many of them are going to be very good, and hopefully that will result in moments like this where it feels like there is a diversity in the types of stories that are being recognized.” Mensch adds of other showrunners like Kohan and Fey, “We’re standing on the shoulders of a lot of other women and a lot of other shows. I think there’s a change happening, but I also think there are some women who have been paving the way for a while and we’re benefitting from that work. They’re helping us to be a part of that movement.”
Gilpin has been open about how her role — which requires her to do her own wrestling stunts — has both changed her relationship with her body and empowered her overall. But the Thursday honor also took her by surprise, as it’s something she too is getting used to.
“Low self-confidence has its benefits because you set your bar really low,” she says of the nomination possibility “not entering” her brain. “GLOW never entered my brain. I tried really hard for 10 years; I did not ever think that the 9-year-old part of me who fell in love with theater and being a ham — and the darker part of me journaling in my parents’ treehouse — would ever get to come out and play in a public way. I never thought that was possible and I know that it’s so rare as actors for us to get to be able to do that. I feel so overwhelmed that I did get that opportunity.”
With women making up the majority of the cast and lining the roles off camera, Gilpin says that the show not only allows but requires the actresses to be their “weirdest, loudest, bravest” selves. The fact that GLOW is being recognized and celebrated for that, she hopes, will be inspiring.
“There’s so much room for everybody and a need for different voices,” Gilpin says of the TV landscape. “I hope it inspires everyone who may not have that outside bravery or spear-carrying self always ready — I hope it inspires maybe the quieter, more fearful-souled ladies to press bioprint on the thing they’ve been to afraid to share on their computer.”
And Gilpin credits the women in her working environment — including star Alison Brie, who “sobbed” with Gilpin on the phone over the nomination on Thursday morning — for giving her a new voice.
“This job has changed my self-worth because I have the privilege of working with a group of women who have high self-worth, and I saw how that trait enabled them to be as creatively free as possible,” she says. “Working alongside women like Alison Brie, who doesn’t apologize for her presence in a room and asks smart questions and is sort of the social worker on behalf of her creative self. Watching her do that and being near her when she does that makes me do it too. It wouldn’t be possible without Alison.”
Now, Gilpin and her co-stars are awaiting news on whether or not GLOW will be renewed for a third season. While Mensch and Flahive had no update to share on Thursday, the pair does have a long-term plan.
“Making a show is hard and exciting and a total tightrope and hopefully we’ll get to do it again,” Flahive says, referencing how Netflix doesn’t release ratings information. “We’re never going to know the numbers, so we’re just always hoping to get more viewers and are excited to share it with as many people as we can.”
Mensch then adds, “We do have an ideal number of seasons, between the two of us, but we’re not going to say it out loud.”
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