Good morning, Angels. If there’s anything we’re looking forward to waking up to this week, it’s the premiere of the latest Charlie’s Angels starring Ella Balinska, Kristen Stewart, and Naomi Scott. Hitting theaters this Friday, the Charlie’s Angels reboot doesn’t stray too far from its predecessors in terms of its powerful, female-fronted cast. While we may be seeing new faces in the franchise, the Angels are still set up for some serious ass-kicking when it comes to outmaneuvering technology’s worst criminals. However, there are a few necessary updates in store for the 2019 Charlie’s Angels—as 23-year-old actress Ella Balinska dished to STYLECASTER.
Whereas past iterations of Charlie’s Angels were directed by a man, “this version was directed by Elizabeth Banks,” Balinska says. When Sony Pictures decided to bring back the Angels, Banks signed on as a director, producer, writer—and yes—actress in the film (she will play a minor role as one of Charlie Townsend’s three assistants in the film; looks like John Bosley needed a hand!) For Banks to join Charlie’s Angels, it resulted in what Balinska calls an “empowering” new approach to the Angels’ story.
“Elizabeth Banks — she’s a powerhouse,” she says. “I think what she brings to it is something super new, super fun, really exciting. It could only have been done by her. The franchise has definitely moved into 2019.”
Part of this contemporary shift was brought on by Balinska’s casting in the film, of course. While the original Charlie’s Angels film and its sequel, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, featured only one woman of color in its main cast (Lucy Liu), 2019’s edition features two: Ella and her castmate, Naomi Scott. It’s promising progress from a franchise that started off with Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith, and Kate Jackson in the ’70s television series.
As the film franchise’s first Black woman to join the ranks as an Angel, Balinska understands the significance of her role—both for the industry and young viewers alike. “It means a lot to me because when you tell these stories, you want to tell something that you can find pieces of yourself in,” Balinska explains, “And the fact that you know, even I’m in this film, [that] Naomi is in this film as well, it reflects the world that you see today.”
Balinska particularly recalls seeing other actresses of color and resonating with them on screen. “I remember when I was younger looking at people like Halle Berry and Zoe Saldana and seeing like, ‘Wow, look what they’re doing. Isn’t this so cool?'” she says. “And the fact that I can potentially inspire someone the way that they inspired me when I was that age is incredible.”
Jane Kano, the savvy ex-M16 agent who Balinska will be portraying in the film, will no doubt inspire audiences at the theater in such a way, too. Kano is the ultimate boss, who we can expect to whip out gadgets and weapons at any opportunity. As for how she nabbed the breakout role, Balinska reveals to STYLECASTER that it was a whirlwind process. She was offered to audition for Charlie’s Angels and took the opportunity with gumption. “I just went for it,” she says. “Next thing you know, I’m Skyping with Elizabeth and then I’m flying out to LA to screen test.”
She received a call from director Banks shortly after. Only, she nearly flubbed her offer, she explained. “[Elizabeth Banks] was like, ‘Hey, Ella, the role of Jade is yours if you want it,’ but the phone cut out just as she said that! So there’s me thinking, ‘I just hung up on Elizabeth Banks offering me the role of Jane Kano!’
Thankfully, things worked out for the British actress—otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to see her “dance” with Kristen Stewart in Charlie’s Angels this Friday.
Watch STYLECASTER’s complete interview with Ella Balinska for more on that scene and everything else you can expect from the film—like what weapons Balinska’s a pro at wielding, and the bloopers she can’t wait to see.
Charlie’s Angels premieres Nov. 15, 2019.