EXCLUSIVE: 'GLOW' Breakout Britney Young Talks Cast's Sisterhood and 'Intimate' Stunts

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GLOW may stand for Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, but for Britney Young, the Netflix series represents something different. 

Born in Tokyo and raised in Alaska, the actress walked an untraditional path to Hollywood success (assuming there's such a thing as a traditional one). Though at the time she lived there there was only one English-speaking television program airing in Japan, Young says she was a natural-born performer, forcing her parents to put her in plays in Tokyo (her mom, a preschool teacher, put on many of her shows as a toddler), and gravitating toward her father's ‘80s movie collection for "research." 

"I kind of just became really interested with not just the acting side, but kind of the production side of movies," Young tells ET, adding that her interest paid off financially after graduating from the University of Southern California. "When I got out of college, I was like, 'Oh no, I have student debt, I need to go into a steady job.' I did production for seven years and it finally just hit me where I was like, 'I don't want to do this, I want to act. I’ve gotta transition over.' And here we are!" 

Of course, it wasn't exactly that easy. In fact, Young, who had just a few acting credits to her name, thought she "bombed" her first audition for GLOW's Carmen "Machu Picchu" Wade, a 25-year-old "gentle giant" with hopes of following her professional wrestling family into the ring. 

"I'm very honored to play all the roles I have, but a lot of the times, those roles are based in the physicality, based in being a plus-size woman, based in being a bigger woman, and when I saw [the casting breakdown for GLOW], they wanted a bigger stature [for Carmen], but it wasn't going to be about her size. She was going to be this kind and sweet person, and that's what I was really drawn to," Young says. 

"A lot of the time in film and television, bigger girls are [portrayed as], like, the girl that's in the corner that has no friends and is quiet and doesn't love herself, or they're the mean girls," she adds. "I was really excited to play this girl who comes into her own, and you just see her grow into a much more confident person than when you originally saw her." 

While her audition didn't go as expected, Young was called back for the role. She soon met with GLOW's executive producers, Jenji Kohan and Tara Herrmann, and co-creators Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch, and performed a stunt audition with Chavo Guerrero Jr. "I found out that next Monday that I had gotten the part, and we started training the next week," she recalls. 

Training proved to be more than just preparation for the physical parts of Young's role. "[Bonding] is almost forced when you meet someone on the first day, and then 20 minutes later your head is in their vagina," she laughs about how she connected with the show's 13 other gorgeous ladies, led by Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin. "You kind of have to be like, 'Hey, we're about to do this really intimate act. You know, we need to cooperate, we need to communicate.' But then we all just started falling in love with each other." 

Photo: Netflix

Calling each other “Sister,” the cast started a texting chain on WhatsApp “where we would talk about everything every day,” Young says. “We had parties; we hung out on the weekend."

True to the variety of characters they portray onscreen, the cast is composed of women with very different backgrounds and acting experience. "There's no reason why we all should be friends, because we're all very different people, but we loved coming to work every day. And we still want to see each other every day."

The collaborative nature of GLOW also extended into the writers' room, where Young helped craft Carmen. In meetings with Flahive, Mensch and the pilot’s director, Jesse Peretz, the cast got to discuss their characters’ arcs and “how we really wanted to bring out all these different points that we wanted to hit,” she says, explaining how one scene called for Carmen to be drinking a beer during an event. "I was like, 'You know what? I don't think Carmen would drink.' And we sat there and we discussed it. It's just little things like that that make it more authentic. The collaboration between all of us just really brings out these real personalities." 

Young also has a few ideas for season two, starting with her character's relationship with the women’s wrestling leagueproducer Bash Howard (Chris Lowell). "I would love to see their relationship continue to grow, whether that's going into a romantic place or still staying as a platonic friendship," she said, adding that she and Lowell worked closely throughout filming to determine the nature of their characters' relationship. "I want to see more Carmen and Bash, but if they go romantic, I want it to make sense for them, and make sense for their relationship to go that way." 

The actress also hopes to "delve deeper" into Carmen and her insecurities about being a star and thrust into the center of attention. "She's naive in the way of the ’80s, you know, like drugs and alcohol, boys, relationships, all that stuff, so I really want to see how she starts to change and develop when she's introduced to all of those things." 

Though Young's charisma and humor suggests she's certainly not uncomfortable being the center of attention, her increased exposure since GLOW mirrors that of her character. "This is kind of what people like to say is my big break. It's my biggest project yet," she confesses, adding that she was "blown away" by the show and its reception. "At the premiere, during the fantasy sequence of the first episode, I literally started crying and reached forward and grabbed Carly Mensch's hand, and we just held hands for like two minutes.

"I'm so happy that we finally get to share it with the world, because it was an experience that has changed all of our lives," Young says. "I'm just very appreciative that we could tell this story that is something very specific to these women, but then at the same time, it's very universal to all women... I'm obsessed with it."