Much like the other cast members of GLOW, training to wrestle was an eye-opening experience for Kimmy Gatewood. The actress who plays Stacey on the popular Netflix series developed a respect for the athleticism and performing elements required for this unique form of entertainment.
"I have an appreciation for what wrestlers do," she said. "I'm not actively following the drama like my co-star Rebekka Johnson. She is fully into it because she will give me tidbits here and there. She'll keep me up to date. She is like my wrestling sports news reporter. I absolutely adore wrestling fans. I think they are awesome. Every wrestler we've come across has been so nice. It has been mutual admiration, which is pretty cool."
She recalls initially going through four weeks of wrestling training ahead of the first and second seasons with another three for the third. Through the process, Gatewood remembered meeting Kia Stevens, not knowing her wrestling background and imposing character Awesome Kong.
"I looked her up, and she looked so intimidating. The first day I met her it was, 'Hi, nice to meet you. My name is Kia.' So sweet and kind," she said. "They played a prank on the girl who went five days into training. None of us had ever wrestled. I think it was Britt Baron. Our trainer Chavo Guerrero told Kia, 'Really go at me.'...They just went at it throwing each other around. The look on Britt's face was like, 'What have we got into ourselves into?' Her and her husband come to my house for Thanksgiving, and it feels like she is a superhero in my home."
Gatewood may be a relative novice grappler, Guerrero spoke highly of her ability to pick up his teachings. She even surprised herself how she was able to look at a move and perform it right away.
"I attribute a lot of it to being a physical comedian. I think any kind of joke, physical humor is what helped me. I also took dance and music. I'm not a professional dancer or anything, but I do have a lot of body awareness. I didn't realize wrestling was this mix of slam-dance with physical comedy and also be a ham when you fall it's like a good soccer player where you're like, 'My knee! My knee!'"
"We did a bit with two of the wrestlers. They were so funny and fun. I think the most amazing part was watching them. You get one take backstage. It's like, 'I'm going to kick your ass,' and, 'I'm going to kick your ass.' Then it's like cut. 'It was a pleasure. See you in the ring.' I believe it was Naomi. She was pretty awesome. Then there was [Lana] she was beefing with. They were so awesome. Then we got to meet the real GLOW girls from the 1980s series. They're been so supportive Dawn, who plays Godiva, Little Egypt, they've shared their stories and been a pretty trippy experience."
This season of GLOW sees the ladies venture to Las Vegas for a marquee spot at the Fan-Tan Hotel and Casino. With the new surroundings come a different set of challenges and life-altering changes. All that plus the addition of Academy Award winner Geena Davis For Gatewood, the feel is completely different for the third round of episodes.
"Geena Davis on set brought an exciting energy because she is a legend," Gatewood said. "The show is all about a lot of female empowerment, women's issues, she had stood for that her entire career. For her to be there was very special for all of us. I think every single cast member said at a different point, 'I admire you so much. You are my hero.' It was really amazing to see the ensemble shine this season.
"We've always really supported each other no matter where we are on screen. It's always felt like an ensemble show. This season in particular it was nice. For example episode six, Melrose and Jenny, played by Jackie Tohn and Ellen Wong, they shared their real stories to show-runners and incorporated a lot of their real life stories into that episode. It was really emotional and is personally my favorite episode. For me, I'm playing a clown most of the first two seasons, and then suddenly I'm ending season three as a villain. It was an interesting transformation for me."
Gatewood is grateful to have the wrestling community behind their show. She hopes they put their passion into spreading the good word and helping secure GLOW a season four. And if there is one thing this group of fans hate, it's a false finish. So Netflix don't leave us hanging and make it happen.
"I would love to see my character continue to explore that villainous side to her for a little bit, but I would love for her and Dawn (Rebekka Johnson) to come back together to come up with some new comedy duos from their tag team bits, which is my absolute favorite place to be is doing."
Audiences can see more collaborations outside the ring between the two thanks to Johnson's short film Consent, a Short Comedy About a Serious Subject. The project, which Gatewood directs, explores the gray line between sexual assault and a bad date. She hopes beyond by turning the topic on its head the film sparks dialogue and constructive conversation.
Those who can't get enough of Gatewood's humor will be able to find it as she hosts a new podcast in the fall called "Mother of All Shows" via Earios. Of course, all three current seasons of GLOW are also available now on Netflix.
Gatewood's full interview with Wrestling Inc. aired as part of Thursday's episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard via the embedded audio player at the bottom of this post.