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Before 'GLOW' got canceled, its actresses of color felt 'disempowered' by their roles

By Laura Zornosa, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

"GLOW" had a reputation.

The hit Netflix series was known for its ensemble cast, fighting the patriarchy (literally) and being "diverse without being about diversity."

Yet behind the scenes, cast members of color had called on showrunners and producers to implement specific guidelines to better represent their characters, whom they felt were "less dimensional" and perpetuating racist stereotypes.

"GLOW," a fictionalized account of the 1980s show "The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling," was officially canceled by Netflix two weeks ago, even though filming of the fourth and final season was already underway.

On Monday, Sunita Mani, who plays Arthie "Beirut the Mad Bomber" Premkumar, posted on Instagram a letter that she and five other actresses of color on the show had written to "GLOW" creators and executive producers earlier this year.

"As the principal women of color on a show tackling racist and offensive stereotypes, we have felt disempowered throughout our time on GLOW," the letter reads. "It has been problematic to use our faces, oftentimes solely in the context of a racist storyline, and to be brief with our story development to serve the in-depth white storylines."

 

The letter was co-signed by Mani, Sydelle Noel (Cherry "Black Magic" Bang), Britney Young (Carmen "Machu Picchu" Wade), Shakira Barrera (Yolanda "Junkchain" Rivas), Kia Stevens (Tamme "The Welfare Queen" Dawson) and Ellen Wong (Jenny "Fortune Cookie" Chey) - all women of color who play recurring characters.

When contacted for further comment, reps for Noel and Mani referred The Times to the actresses' Instagram statements.

"GLOW has been marketed as a diverse ensemble, but for all of us diverse cast members, it has never lived up to these ideals," their letter continues. "Unfortunately, we feel that the promise of this show has not been fulfilled."

Although media reports initially picked up on Mani's post, the six actresses made a concerted effort to publicize the letter, each sharing it (and thoughts on their own experiences on the show) and tagging one another Monday.

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