Britney Young on "GLOW": I was scared of crushing my co-stars

Britney Young (left) plays Carmen on "GLOW."

Erica Parise/Netflix

Actress Britney Young plays Carmen on Netflix's new series, "GLOW," which follows a ragtag women's wrestling league in the 1980s. The show is based on the real-life wrestling promotion "Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling." Unlike the other characters, Carmen comes from a famous wrestling family.

Young talked to CBS News about how she trained for the series and what she enjoyed about working on a women-centric show.

You play Carmen, also known as Machu Picchu, who is perhaps the kindest character on "GLOW" -- she's sweet and friendly and happy. How do you like playing someone who is just so likable?

OK, thank you for saying that. A lot of people have asked me that and to be honest, it is a bit of an acting stretch for me. I see a lot of similarities between Carmen and me -- we are both good-natured -- and I'm grateful for roles I've had, but usually I've played bullies or mean girls, not the nicest people. So to come up in a show where she's so sweet and kind -- I'd be like, "Am I smiling too much? Is this too much niceness?" and people would say, "No, this is the perfect amount."

Our producers and writers do so much, and I'm grateful she has so many layers to her and I'm glad she's such a great person who feels very real.

You were just talking about getting roles as bullies and mean girls. Do you feel like you get typecast?

Yeah, I do. I'm a very confident person and interestingly enough, my confidence comes from growing up on these 1980s movies because of my dad's collection of '80s movies and I thought to myself, in movies the plus-size girls are the mean girls, bullies or they're the shy quiet girls who sit in the corner.

I made a conscious decision to be neither of those categories growing up, but coming into Hollywood, unfortunately, we still are classifying plus-size girls in either one of those characters. I don't mean to blast the industry, but I notice that I go out for characters where they're looking for a physicality and that's the butt of the joke, or evilness or meanness, so I was very grateful for Carmen, because it's more about her personality and who she is as her character. I'm starting to get more auditions that are character-based than physicality-based.

You just said you're very confident, but does the typecasting ever get to you?

Yeah. I was bullied when I was younger quite badly and to come into this industry where you want to still be who you are and get these opportunities -- I try not to take it personally but it does get disheartening sometimes to get cast as another mean girl

But I'm so grateful for actresses like Rebel Wilson or Melissa McCarthy who show that physicality is not the only thing. That's part of it, but it's not all of it -- they're funny and smart. We still have a ways to go until we're up to that point to have a plus-size woman be a lead in a rom-com and she doesn't have to lose weight. We're getting there, though.

This show is almost all women in front of the camera and behind the camera. How has that experience been for you?

It's fantastic. Working with this cast and crew has really changed me in a lot of ways and I'm forever grateful for them because it's so inspiring to see that behind the camera our head person, our director, creator, producers are women and they're the ones making decisions and molding the stories. I'm so grateful to them for bringing in an authentic voice.

I find even these women-centered stories, when they're written by men, you kind of cringe, like, "That's not really how it happens!" I'm glad they're bringing personal experiences into it, and our cast is so phenomenal. I've learned so much from them.

What do you want viewers to take away from "GLOW"?

I've learned two things: We need to stop letting other people define us. Having someone come out and say, "You're plus-size -- you have to be a bully." No, I'm Britney. I'm Carmen. This is who I am. I  think we need to stop being afraid that we won't fit into these boxes, so we don't show our true colors. We need to embrace exactly who we are.

I also hope people take away something I took away. We like to pit people against each other, and we don't really encourage supportive environments -- who's the best at this, who wore it best and all these awards. We need to help each other grow while nurturing our own goals and accomplishments. Carmen is a mentor, but these girls are mentoring her and she's finding parts of herself she didn't know she had. I think that's something very strong that I took away from this project.

Did you have reservations about working on a wrestling show?

I think what I was nervous about was I still have my insecurities and bad days and when I was meeting all these women, I thought I was going to crush them. I was scared to do these moves because I was like, "No, I'm going to break you. I'll hurt you." I really have to give it to everyone, but especially Kia Stevens. They all helped me so much. Kia took me under her wing to show me that wrestling isn't about size. Just because you're larger doesn't mean you're more aggressive or stronger. Once I understood that and understood wrestling is all about communication and teamwork and skill -- that's what makes your matches strong. It's not going up and throwing someone into the ropes or splashing them on the ground. It really is about communication, and once I got that in my head that I wasn't going to hurt other people, I got excited about wrestling and enjoyed it.

What was training like?

It was very, very tiring and my body was never as sore as it was. But I definitely got to experience feeling strong on both a physical and mental level. We girls have our mantra: I'm a wrestler. We can go out there and put whatever we put our mind to, we can be strong and powerful. I think there's a mixture of being on that mental level and physical level, and that was enthralling to me and an addictive high. It's so inspiring to feel that way. Training was so fun. We trained for one month, three or four hours a day, and I continued while we were shooting. It was so fun to be a novice and be with other people who were novices as well. We have videos from the beginning of training where we thought we were so bada** and so great, and now we watch them and we don't want anyone to see them. To see that skill actually grow and develop was so amazing.

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