The cast of the now cancelled wrestling dramedy GLOW, including Nicaraguan-American actress Shakira Barrera, shared a letter they sent to Netflix about feeling “disempowered” because of underwritten storylines for their characters—all women of color. At the time, the cast believed Netflix was bringing the show back for a fourth and final season.
Earlier this month, Netflix changed course and decided to cancel the show citing concerns over COVID-19. On Monday (Oct. 19), the women who penned the original letter—Barrera, Sunita Mani, Sydelle Noel, Kia Stevens, Britney Young, and Ellen Wong—posted the letter on social media, so their fans could see the concerns they brought up back in June.
“Our characters continually remain less fleshed out and less dimensional,” 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.”
In explaining why they chose to release the letter, Mani prefaced it with a new letter to fans about “the show’s reckoning with race” and their own “value as women of color against a system and industry that values whiteness.”
“This is the part of GLOW’s ending that I grapple with as a larger metaphor for our times,” the letter reads. “Our show-within-a-show was an ambitious, female powered underdog that got cancelled. And here we are, life imitating art.”
A few days after Netflix cancelled the show, the cast reunited for a video conference they called “AfterGlow: The Final Bell” to talk about what GLOW meant to them. Barrera, who joined the series during season two, explained how she was able to overcome her fears about coming into a show that already had an incredible first season.
“I said, ‘Oh, they don’t have a Latina; they need a Latina,’” Barrera said. “I hopped in there, and I think there [was] something so beautiful about being in this environment where these women trusted each other so much. It gave me so much courage to be able to portray…this confident woman who is unapologetic. It’s definitely a part of me that I’m going to carry…for the rest of my life.”