The Not-So-Secret Real-Life of GLOW's Rhonda Richardson

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(Photo: Netflix)

If you didn't watch the entirety of new Netflix series GLOW over the weekend, chances are you were simply too busy doing a plethora of amazing Pride-related stuff. That's okay. You can casually start watching this show about women's wrestling next weekend, only to find that you can't step away from your TV. Truly, this is the most insanely addictive show to hit screens since Stranger Things (the '80s -- and Netflix -- is clearly having a moment right now).

Amidst all of the leotards, compelling drama, and genuinely heart-felt humor, it took me a couple of episodes to really notice Rhonda Richardson, a.k.a. Britannica (the smartest of all of the wrestling personas in the show, she clobbers her opponents with a text book).

Rhonda's character has so far been noticed online for her resemblance to Robyn Lively in 1989's Teen Witch, and not much else. This is a reflection of how many amazing characters there are in this thing, rather than an indictment of her character. Rhonda is a beautiful and outspoken live wire with a sweet nature and unfiltered sexuality.

Photo: Netflix

It was in GLOW's third episode (the hilariously titled "Wrath of Kuntar") that it clicked.
"Hang on, that's Kate Nash!" I said.
"Who the hell is Kate Nash?" my perplexed binge-watching companion asked.


I hit pause and put this on:

Nash has been an indie music darling in the UK for a decade -- something quite evident by the 13 million views the "Foundations" video has wracked up on YouTube thus far. Her first album, Made of Bricks, was full of jaunty piano-based tunes about unrequited crushes, bad relationships, and childhood friendships. Nash unselfconsciously sang the entire thing in her broad London accent. Legend has it, the album was only written to kill boredom, after the singer broke her foot in a panic induced by getting rejected from the theater school of her choice. On her home soil, the twist of fate catapulted her into actual, BRIT-Award-winning stardom (she beat PJ Harvey and Bat For Lashes in the 2008 Best British Female category).

At the start of her music career, the then-20-year-old Nash combined wholesome, traditionally feminine aesthetics with a penchant for cursing and unfiltered opinion-giving. It was an intoxicating combination, but one that didn't really speak to the more punk rock aspects of Nash's character. On the side, away from all the adoration, she played bass part-time in a punk band called the Receeders. She also fully embraced underground, DIY culture with her own fanzine and blog, My Ignorant Youth.

Nash's second album, 2010's My Best Friend is You, had elements of her earlier sweetness -- even incorporating '60s girl group vibes on lead single, "Do-Wah-Doo" -- but her on-stage image got spikier and the album tracks were far dirtier and more caustic than anyone had expected. By the time 2013's Girl Talk came out, it was widely noted that Nash had "gone full riot grrrl." Reviews were a little mixed, but Nash doubled down, creating a YouTube channel called Girl Gang TV, that The Guardian dubbed "a meeting place for a new generation of likeminded feminists."

Suffice it to say, Kate Nash ending up on a show about sexism, female empowerment, community amongst women, and DIY determination shouldn't be in the least bit surprising, especially since, before that pesky broken foot, she had been more interested in a career in acting than in music. (Fun fact: she attended the same London school for performing arts that Amy Winehouse and Adele did.)

Kate Nash's fourth album is due out sometime before February 2018, but it's hard to imagine GLOW not taking over her life for the forseeable future. The cool thing is, this second leap into the limelight comes with its own in-built girl gang -- something she's been trying to cultivate on her own for years.