GLOW returns for Season 2 this Friday night and features a crack ensemble cast with a standout player — gentle giant Carmen “Machu Picchu” Wade, played by Britney Young.
A quiet force of nature, Carmen hails from wrestling royalty and brings actual knowledge to the ring while the other ladies play catch up learning the ropes, literally.
An Alaskan who traveled south for school, Young told us in our exclusive interview below how she has the enviable edge of being part of the University of Southern California “Trojan mafia”.
This USC film school grad comes with way more than on-screen charisma — she has real behind-the-scenes talent too, and it won’t be surprising to see her producing in years to come.
In real-life preparation for the series, Young gave major training props to Chavo Guerrero Jr. and even Lucha Underground senior ref Marty Elias who appeared as a ref in Season 1.
Not only has Young stood out in GLOW, but her one episode in FX’s excellent comedy Better Things has earned her some major notice.
One of the perks of GLOW is that the popular cast was invited to participate on reality series Drop the Mic with Method Man, and the ladies got to go up against real WWE heavyweights like Nikki and Brie Bella.
As we interviewed Britney we learned one thing for sure — that GLOW season 2 will peel away the cast’s personal relationships and focus on their reaction to newfound fame.
Monsters and Critics: We love Carmen! You probably hear that all the time and when we covered the tapings of El Rey’s Lucha Underground, ref Marty Elias mentioned working with you all…
Britney Young: I love Marty!
M&C: Just watching those Luchadors wrestle…it’s such hard work. Tell me what you go through for training, and about the physical aspect of this job.
Britney: Basically, for the past two seasons, about a month before shooting, us girls get together and go through wrestling boot camp, as we like to call it. Our sub coordinator, Shauna Duggins, and then our wrestling coordinator, Chavo Guerrero Jr., basically just put us through the ringer.
The first season, it really was step by step learning the different aspects of wrestling — and I mean step by step. The first day, we showed up, all of us girls being a little bit cocky, we were like, “Yes. We’re down for this. We got it!” Chavo looks at us and is like, “Alright, get in the ring.”
We all walked up. It took maybe about 10 minutes for us to get in because we literally did not know how to open the ropes. Some of us were just rolling in. It was quite an eye-opening experience just to get us ready for everything we were going to learn.
We really did go through the basics: back bumps, forward rolls, headlocks, hammerlocks…with each week, we started learning new moves and then turning that into choreography and then, essentially, that set us up for the first season, which we then continued training for throughout shooting.
And then, the second season, when we came back, we all kind of expected that we would do the same exact thing. We’d trained for a month, every day, five days a week for four to five hours each day. We thought we would go baby steps, but we really hit the ground running, season two.
We had no ring rust. We were quite surprised how easy it all came back to us, so we just started building from there and eventually got to the matches you see on the show.
M&C: Other than the ring training, is there an athlete’s exercise regimen?
Britney: No. Not at all. That’s kind of the great thing about our [show] creators, Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch, they made it very, very clear and upfront with us. They wanted nobody to gain weight, lose weight. They wanted us to be our natural bodies. However we wanted to present our bodies was exactly how they wanted us.
I do know that some girls kind of picked up their weightlifting training, just because you have to be strong to do some of these things. Some people did that.
I know, for myself, I found that I picked up. I do work out three to four days a week, but what I really needed to work on more was the cardio. I wasn’t quite prepared for running around the ring for three minutes lifting bodies. So, I think that it was just kind of whatever you found that you needed to do, that’s what you worked on.
But the show never told us to do any kind of training or anything like that, other than the wrestling training they provided.
M&C: Carmen had a really interesting connection with Bash in Season 1…where do they go?
Britney: Yes. I also love Carmen and Bash and, as a person, Chris Lowell is amazing. He’s such a talented actor and so much fun to work off of.
But it is interesting because each time he and I would have a scene together, before, we would kind of chat about what we thought Carmen and Bash’s relationship was. I kid you not, with each episode, our conclusion changed.
It kind of started out as, oh, maybe she has a crush on him, perhaps he has a crush on her. Then it was like, no, they’re strictly platonic. And now going into Season 2 I think it’s even more confusion of kind of what they actually really mean to each other. And I think that’s what we explore during Season 2.
They kind of become each other’s confidence. They realize that they have so much in common, especially with the way their family treats them, how they kind of both are scared to really be 100 per cent themselves and they kind of help each other in Season 2 to find out what it means to be Bash and what it means to be Carmen.
They have a lot of great stuff for Season 2. I haven’t seen the full season yet, so I don’t know if it all made it in there, but there is some really great Bash and Carmen stuff.
M&C: Do we learn more about the Wade family, or is that kind of shelved?
Britney: We do learn more about the Wade family. Season 1 was mostly the dynamics between Papa Goliath and Carmen and Season 2 is more about the dynamics between Carmen and her brothers.
So, the family is definitely still in the picture, it’s just now that their father has accepted that his daughter is going to go into wrestling, now it’s the brother’s turn to really realize what that means for their family dynamic.
M&C: Is your character close to your brothers? Is that a spoiler?
Britney: No, no. It’s not a spoiler. I believe that Carmen and her brothers are very close but I think her branching out on her own has put a little bit of a tension in their relationship and I think Season 2 is kind of exploring that tension and trying to figure out if it’s going to be there or is it something that they can work on to fix. It’s my vague answer for you without giving too much away.
M&C: Do you think they’re jealous?
Britney: Yes. I definitely think that they are jealous. I think it’s that weird moment of, ‘am I going to be proud of this person because I love them, but how can I be proud when they have exactly what I’ve been striving for myself.’ You know? That weird, supportive, jealousy kind of thin line.
M&C: Let’s talk about your episode on Better Things, Pamela Adlon’s show. Would you want to go back and do some cameos on that show and was that a good experience for you?
Britney: Oh my gosh! I’m so obsessed with her. I actually, interestingly enough, saw her at a party a few weeks ago and she and I just gabbed for so long and she’s just the sweetest person. She watches GLOW, which is just amazing.
But, I’d love to go back. I’d love to go back to any of the projects I’ve ever worked on, just because I’ve had such good experiences on them. But with Pamela, it was one of the first times that I got to really work closely with a director on an acting project, and that’s because she directed the episode and I happened to have my scene with her.
So that was really great to get into her mind a little bit and see the scene through her eyes. I learned a lot, literally, from that one day I was on set. I’d love to go back if they’d have me, and if they don’t it’s a hell of a good show, so people should watch it! It’s so funny.
M&C: I agree. Do you feel like, when there are more women behind the camera and in the writing room that it makes for a better experience for female actors, overall? Is that something that you’ve noticed or no?
Britney: For myself, I really respond well to it and I think that the reason why is because we’ve all had to struggle and we all want each other to succeed. So, I think the ego is thrown out of it when you have women in these leadership and decision making roles.
I think that’s the one thing that’s great about GLOW is that we have so many women as department heads. We have so many female directors. Our writer’s room is essentially all females. Our creator’s a female. So, we really care about the products that we’re making. It’s not to advance ourselves or to get ourselves somewhere else.
It really is to put out a great show and I think that’s the feeling that I feel differently on a female lead set. I feel, essentially, like it’s a huge family and we’re all here to have fun with each other and support each other and do good work without thinking about ourselves first. So, I think that’s what I’ve noticed is the difference on being on a female-led set.
M&C: Marc Maron as Sam Sylvia. How does your relationship with Sam evolve in Season 2?
Britney: Now, I’m like, “Wait. Britney and Marc are great!” But, Sam and Carmen? I think it’s him kind of realizing that Sam is not necessarily in this to make a good wrestling show.
He’s not in this to advance the wrestling culture or stay true to the wrestling culture and I think that is something that is very important to Carmen.
It’s very important that she presents these wrestlers because she does step into the trainer, coach role this season and I think it’s very important to her that she presents real wrestlers.
Whereas Sam is kind of just like, “I’m directing. I’m making a show. I’m getting all these things in there.” So, I think that she does take a lot of the care about the show from Sam and she’s just like, “Okay. Just let me do it.”
But, it is very interesting.
What I love about the show so much is that there are so many little moments where people may be having a tough time with each other, character-wise, but then there’s a moment when they’ll just share a look.
Sam and Carmen have that a lot, where they might butt heads but sometimes they’ll just share a look where it’s like, “Alright, I have your back and you have mine.”
I think Sam actually has that with a lot of the girls in the show and I think that’s just the greatest part about it where you kind of see his weird, almost sexist ways get a little calmed down this season if that makes sense.
M&C: You don’t have a lot going on as far as the crazy backstories like Debbie and Ruth. You’re just a more centered character. But do you have any conflict with anyone in Season 2 within the group?
Britney: Yes, there is some tension that comes up between her and Bash that, unfortunately, trickles into her relationship with Rhonda. This season, Rhonda and Carmen aren’t as close as they were Season 1 and it’s a little bit of a frustration between them because of things that Bash is doing.
Because she’s the trainer, again, she does get sucked into the Ruth and Debbie of it all a little bit and I think that’s very interesting. Reading a couple scripts, I was very proud of Carmen where she does kind of call them out a couple times where it’s like, “Hey, you guys, usually you do a better job of keeping your friendship stuff out of our workspace. Can we get back to that?”
I think it’s kind of those handful of characters that she has a little bit of a conflict with this year.
M&C: I noticed, too, that you are a Trojan. You went to USC.
Britney: Yes! I did! I’ve been a film and TV nerd forever. I don’t even know when I got into it. That’s how long I’ve loved film and TV and USC was always my dream school.
Coming out of high school, I applied and got crushed because I didn’t get in so I went to another school in Washington for two years and then reapplied and got in and transferred. I wish I could have been there all four years because it was such a great experience. I love that program there.
I was in the film school in the critical studies program which…I think that concentration, within the school, is so great because you can take so many classes throughout the entire division.
I graduated in 2010. Trojan mafia is real. I can definitely say that, after working in this business for eight years, Trojan mafia is real. I just learned so much.
Going into my first project after graduation, I felt like I already had a pretty good baseline. I wasn’t learning on the job as much as I thought I would be out the gate, and I owe that all to USC. They really did prepare me to get into this business.
M&C: Do you have plans to direct, produce, screenplays? Are you strictly acting?
Britney: No. I want to do it all. I’ve always wanted to produce. That’s always been a goal of mine. When I worked in production for six years, I learned so much. With an assistant, there are so many different producers that taught me a lot about how to run a show and how to run a film. So I’d love to produce.
I’m trying to develop a few different projects right now, with some writers that I have met along the way just being in this business. So hopefully, we can get those off the ground. I would love to direct but I will confidently say I think I need to shadow a few more directors and be on a few more sets before I officially throw my hat into that ring.
I don’t think people realize there’s a lot more to directing than just telling actors what to do. It’s a bigger hat that they wear than we all think. So I definitely would love to direct one day, produce one day…having my own company would just be great.
Because, like I said, I just really love the medium. I love the craft of filmmaking from concepts to final products. So, as long as I can be in this business doing whatever, I will do it.
GLOW Season 2 hits this Friday, June 29, on Netflix.
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