Long before she would star in the hit Netflix series GLOW as Dawn Rivecca, Rebekka Johnson was a kid watching the original Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling at her piano teacher's home.
Ahead of the GLOW Season 2 premiere on Friday, June 29, the actress, writer and director talked with PopCulture.com exclusively about what's to come for the Beatdown Biddies and how she and writing partner Kimmy Gatewood developed their characters.
GLOW hits home for Johnson, who started watching the original series after childhood piano lessons each week. "I remember watching it and feeling like it was salacious," she told PopCulture. "I was like five or six years old, and I remember feeling like it was dirty ... It was just like a weird feeling I had, but I loved it. I totally loved it."
So when she and Gatewood got the initial audition, and found out it was a Jenji Kohan production, Johnson got "chills."
"I was like, this is going to be amazing," she said, adding, "It just felt like a weird thing that fell into my life that was also actually perfect."
Coming up with the hilarious and raw characters of Dawn and her counterpart Stacey Beswick, played by Gatewood, drew on the duo's history as real life best friends and comedy partners, but also had some guidance from the stars.
In a scene that was cut from one of the show's first episodes, Johnson added that each of the characters went around saying their Zodiac signs, and that Dawn was revealed to be a Leo.
"I literally went home and wrote," she said. "I looked up what the attributes are of a Leo, and I wrote a character bio for myself. I mean, I just needed something to go off of, because of course, Kimmy and I have our energy, and that's so fun, but what am I besides just energetic?"
She added, "I knew that the writers must have chosen all of our horoscopes for a reason."
The bold, brash and unbelievably '80s character that emerged from the bio would soon go on to be a fan favorite.
Johnson totally gets the hype for GLOW, calling the filming of Season 1 "one of those magical experiences," but added that she kept herself guarded for it to flop.
"I also have a cynical nature, I suppose, just from being in the business for so long, and kind of having faced a lot of rejection," she said. "I was like, 'This is probably going to be amazing, but it might not be. Who knows?' I had a feeling, but I was prepared to put my armor up if it didn't work out."
There's a lot to come in Season 2 for both Dawn and Stacey, Johnson told PopCulture, as they enter the realm of minor celebrity following the success of their GLOW showcase in Season 1. And as you might expect, the two get a bit of a "big head," Johnson teases.
"They're excited that they can potentially get recognized, or people from their old life might be able to know they're on TV," she joked. "I think the girls are always hoping that they can just get backstage, and sleep with a rockstar. They've really only gotten the opportunity to hook up with bouncers, or bouncers' brothers, so maybe they'll get famous enough to hook up with Bret Michaels and Vince Neil."0comments
GLOW Season 2 premieres Friday, June 29 on Netflix.
Photo credit: Mandee Johnson, Netflix