We caught up with actress, writer, and filmmaker Rebekka Johnson to chat GLOW and her new short film discussing consent and gender parity. Rebekka recently reprised her fan-favorite role as Dawn in Season 3 of Netflix’s critically acclaimed, award-nominated series, GLOW. The show centers around the lives of a struggling, out of work actress in Los Angeles in the 1980s, who helps to create the first women’s wrestling TV show. Rebekka shines as Dawn, one part of the hilarious “Beatdown Biddies” wrestling duo: Edna and Ethel Rosenblatt, and lover of all things glitter and spandex.
For Johnson–Dawn’s personality comes from her humor and her style. “Beth Morgan who designs our costumes is a genius …she thinks of our characters in a really holistic way,” she explained. “She’s always thinking about how to make them as funny as possible. She is really the one responsible for the styling and our transformation into the toxic twins. I just made sure that I was able to wrestle in whatever I was wearing. Comedically for the Biddies, we based a lot of our outfits on ’80s inspired housecoats. They put us in compression socks that were so uncomfortable, but hilarious. Personally, I usually gravitate towards patterns and prints. For one of my comedy groups–the Apple Sisters we have a retro aesthetic, I love vintage fashion. I love the stuff that my grandma wore. In high school, I was obsessed with polyester, and I’ve worn one of my grandmother’s polyester gowns to a few events!”
Though she loves being one-half of the Toxic Twins and the Beatdown Biddies–one act does have a special place in her heart. “The Biddies are more fun (for me) to play because we have so much fun with improvising,” the Staten Island native explained. “Playing these old ladies that remind us of Carol Burnett or The Golden Girls. I have a soft place in my heart for the Biddies!”
Since Dawn is a professional hair/make-up artist–Johnson has also had to up her glam game. “I’ve gotten better at doing my own hair and make-up,” she revealed. “But it definitely looks about fifty times better when someone else does it, especially when they cut my hair into a side mullet when we were shooting. So between seasons, I’ve cut my hair into a French bob and that keeps things easy. But there’s nothing like a good contour from a professional MUA to make you look ten years younger.”
In addition to GLOW— Johnson’s latest venture, Consent, a Short Comedy About a Serious Subject is also near and dear to her heart. “I wanted to make something that talked about the issue of consent, and the gray area between sexual assault and a bad date,” she explained. “I think it’s important that we continue the dialogue that #MeToo started. I thought, ‘How can I help people, mainly men–understand why it’s so difficult when you’re put in a position where someone ignores your consent?’ The short is an allegory, and I decided to flip the gender narrative here. I play the aggressor, the person who won’t take no for an answer. Instead of sexual assault, I won’t stop singing to one particular man, and because he likes my music I assume he wants to hear it all the time, and he doesn’t know how to say no. When he does say no, I lash out at him. I’ve had a lot of positive responses, and actually, a lot men have come up to me to say, wow I really see the issue in a different way. I’m a comedian, so I’m using this issue I really care about as the subject for a comedy short, but making sure I respect the issue and making sure people laugh.”
Though women are making strides in front of the camera in the comedy world–we wanted to know if it was translating to writer’s rooms and director’s chairs. “There are definitely more women working behind the camera,” Johnson revealed. “We still have a long way to go when it comes to gender parity, but the great thing is I’m able to get into the room now and pitch shows. I’m using my feminist comedic lens and getting a good response. So it’s nice that I’m able to be myself and not have hide or fit into a box. Ellen Pompeo is always talking about having a diverse room, advocating for and using her platform for diversity and inclusion. I work with Kate Nash on GLOW who is a feminist icon who uses her platform, so I look up to feminists from all aspects of the industry.”
You can catch Season 3 of GLOW now streaming on Netflix.