'Stranger Things' Star Shannon Purser Reacts to Emmy Nom and Finally Getting Justice for Barb (Exclusive)
By Jennifer Drysdale
"I'm amazing!" Shannon Purser excitedly told ET over the phone on Thursday, just hours after finding out she was nominated for her first Emmy.
The Stranger Things star was nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her work on the beloved Netflix show, and though her character's time on the series was cut short after just four episodes, Purser said Thursday's news couldn't be bigger "#JusticeForBarb."
"I don't see how it could get much better than this, for sure," Purser confessed. "It's been really sweet to see how many people are excited and you know, encouraging me. So yeah, it's incredible."
The 20-year-old actress actually found out about her nomination from the same Twitter community which demanded justice for her character, as the nomination announcement occurred while she was on a flight to Vancouver to film season two of Riverdale. "I turned on my phone and all these text messages and posts and tweets started flooding my inbox... I found out on a plane, and I was trying to keep my cool, because I'm stuck in this tiny space with like, a couple hundred other people. It's crazy!"
"My brain just kind of shut down. There are no words," she added. "I just didn't expect it in a million years."
Though Purser's career has blown up since Stranger Things premiered on Netflix last summer -- her new movie, Wish Upon, hits theaters on Friday, and Riverdale returns on the CW in the fall -- it's not lost on Purser that her FIRST Emmy nomination was awarded for her first-ever TV show.
"I mean, honestly, it's a little bit scary, but I think it's kind of a good thing," she said of seeing success so early in her career. "It really gives me some faith in myself and my abilities and it's incredible. It really is such an honor, and it's kind of the cliche, but even to be nominated is such an incredible thing. I think it really kind of just helps invalidate some of the insecurities I've had about my abilities. It's really just incredible."
"Not to sound negative, but I'm being compared to these incredibly talented other actresses and actors, and I'm really excited to see what happens," Purser said of her category, which includes actresses like Orange Is the New Black's Laverne Cox, The Leftovers' Ann Down and The Handmaid's Tale's Alexis Bledel. "I just feel very honored."
Purser, who said she's grateful to have Riverdale to distract her from "hyperventilating and then panicking all day," has gotten the chance to "freak out" a little on Twitter, as she congratulated co-stars David Harbour and Millie Bobby Brown, who also nabbed individual nominations for their performances in Stranger Things -- bringing the show's Emmy nod total to 18. "I don't even know where everyone else is. Hopefully we'll get a chance to all hang out soon and freak out together," she shared.
For now, Purser is basking in the moment -- and thinking about what she's going to wear on Emmy day.
"I mean, there are so many options! My stylist just sent me a couple pictures, and now I'm just racing with ideas. So I'm really excited to figure out what I'm going to do," she confessed. "I didn't even think that I would have to worry about it, and now I'm here, and it's amazing!"
"I'm just so grateful, you know? I had this incredible opportunity with Stranger Things, and now all it tells me is that people like my work, so I need to keep working. I need to push forward and put as much of my heart into every character I play as I did into Barb," Purser added. "So, yeah, that's pretty much my game plan."
The 69th Emmy Awards, hosted by Stephen Colbert, will air live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, Sunday, Sept. 17, starting at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBS.