A letter signed by multiple women from the cast of GLOW has been published citing concerns and problems with the show’s handling of roles and positions for people of color.
The letter was posted to Instagram by Kia Stevens, who played the role of “Tamme”, who signed the letter along with Britney Young (“Carmen”), Sydelle Noel (“Cherry Bang”), Ellen Wong (“Jenny”), Sunita Mani (“Arthie”), and Shakira Barrera (“Yolanda”).
In the letter, it refers to the hope for revisions in “the upcoming season”, indicating this was sent prior to the news that Netflix would not be bringing the series back for its fourth and final season due to the impact of the pandemic on their production, which halted filming earlier this year.
A portion of the letter reads:
We are writing to you today to share some feelings that have been suppressed in all of us for a long time. As the principal women of color on a show tackling racist and offensive stereotypes, we have felt disempowered throughout our time on GLOW.
We’ve individually come to you to express our concerns over the course of 3 season – whether it be in our character meetings or during specific conflicts within our storyline – and our characters continually remain less fleshed out and less dimensional. 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.
GLOW has been marketed as a diverse ensemble, but for all of us diverse cast members, it has never lived up to those ideas. Since season 1, the show has planted racial stereotyping into our character’s existence, yet our storylines are relegated to the sidelines in dealing with this conflict or have left us feeling like checked-boxes on a list. Unfortunately, we feel that the promise of this show has not been fulfilled. There is incredible support, love and camaraderie amidst the GLOW cast, and it should go without saying that we are not here to take down our white castmates or our show, but to elevate us all in a deeper, more significant way.
With zero persons of color in the writer’s room this season, it is a huge oversight to be writing our narratives without anyone else to represent us besides ourselves. There has been an emotional toll on us to take care of an enact our characters. The meta narrative of our show – actors dealing with the conflict of perpetuating stereotypes in order to have opportunity – is exactly what is happening in our real life. We feel both devalued in our skillset and only valued for the diversity that we bring. It is a cyclical, psychological pain to deal with one’s currency as an actor and a person of color based on a system that values whiteness. Even when our show seeks to comment on this standard, it perpetuates it. We can no longer be quiet about the pain this has caused us and the harm it has done in perpetuating the representation of people of color as sidekicks to elevate white leads.
The letter (which can be read in full below) goes on to recommend that the series hire an Executive Producer or Consulting Producer of color, fully address how portraying stereotypical and racially offensive wrestling personas has impacted our character’s professional live and personal dignity, and “amplify our voices and our importance within the season narrative”.
In looking at the responses to the post on Kia Stevens’ Instagram, it shows messages of support to the letter from GLOW castmates Alison Brie, Kate Nash, Rebekka Johnson, Jackie Tohn, and Britt Baron.