You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘GLOW’ Star Kia Stevens on Identifying With Welfare Queen’s Season 2 Story

Professional wrestler Kia Stevens turned heads in the first season of Netflix’s 1980s-set comedy “GLOW” as Tammé Dawson, a mother by day and champion in the ring at night. In the second season she got to dive even deeper into Tammé’s challenges to be a role model for her college-age son while adopting the sports persona of Welfare Queen on local access television. The fourth episode of the second season saw her son’s first glimpse at his mother’s new life and gave Stevens the chance to show just how detrimental portraying such negative stereotypes can be.

Stevens: “These are things that black women, and black people in general, had to go through in order to gain employment in the entertainment industry. We wanted to illustrate the profoundness and the extremeness of it — how far people had to go to be in the entertainment industry and how far they would go in exploiting their own people to get their foot in the door.

“She tells her son that everyone’s offensive — ‘If everybody is doing it, why can’t I do it, too?’ — and I could identify with that because in my first opportunity in wrestling I had to take on the name Amazing Kong. As you know, being black and being Kong is kind of problematic! I had to really weigh the consequences of that. As I was thinking, an N.W.A song came on, and I was like, ‘If Ice Cube and Dr. Dre can be N-word Wit Attitudes, I can be Amazing Kong. I’m going to become so successful that people will hear that name and they’ll have to respect it.’ And I also thought about King Kong Bundy, and how as a white man he was free to be a Kong. I want to have every freedom that every white person has. If that means being free to be a Kong, then I’m going to change the vernacular of what that word means.

“I took all of that experience and I applied it to what they wrote for the episode: She’s going to create a character so adored that when they see her they have respect for her. She’s a hardworking woman — she’s the polar opposite of what she’s portraying on screen — so if this is how she’s going to break into the business, she’s going to commit to that and she’s going to take it to the stratosphere.

“A week before we started shooting [director] John Cameron Mitchell brought us in for meetings, and we talked about the relationship between her son and herself. Being that she had her son young, they kind of grew up together; he’s really the only man in her life, and they are best friends, as well as parent and child.

“I loved John’s process of getting together beforehand to talk about the material. I felt my experiences were heard and incorporated into the material, which really put me in a safe space to act all of this out.

“The very first day of the episode we started with the wrestling and then went straight into the emotional part. Her son witnesses what is a low that contradicts the conversation I’m sure they’ve had about minstrel characters and black pride and how to hold yourself with that pride and how to deal with the double consciousness that all black people have in America. I think when she sees his face she feels shame, this real sense of, ‘Oh I did wrong.’

“To go from performing to please people to, ‘Oh my gosh I feel vulnerable and naked right now’ so quickly was my biggest challenge. I rehearsed that scene by myself like 1,000 times — if I wasn’t filming I was rehearsing for it.”

More TV

  • Dead To Me

    Streaming Shows Nearly Doubled in Last Year, Boosting Los Angeles TV Production

    Television production in Los Angeles has received a major boost from streaming shows, according to a new report from the permitting organization FilmLA. The number of new digital projects nearly doubled between the 2017-18 and 2018-19 development cycles, increasing approximately 85.3% in a year. The number of digitally distributed original series in production has increased by [...]

  • Jessica Biel Limetown Premiere

    Why 'Limetown' Star & Producer Jessica Biel Thought the Show Was Based on a True Story

    In a world of increasingly outlandish headlines, the story behind “Limetown” — in which an entire community in rural Tennessee disappears overnight — seems plausible. Even Jessica Biel, who executive produces and stars in the Facebook Watch television adaptation of the hit 2015 podcast, was initially convinced that it was real. “I just thought I [...]

  • Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer, Cory Booker,

    TV Ratings: Fourth Democratic Debate Draws 8.3 Million Viewers

    Last night’s Democratic debate, which saw frontrunner Elizabeth Warren come under attack from all sides, drew around 8.3 million total viewers on CNN. That viewership figure is down 46% on the first NBC debate which was watched by 15.3 million viewers, and also on the two previous CNN debates which garnered 10.7 million (down 22%) [...]

  • All That Nickelodeon logo

    'All That' Revival Scores 13 More Episodes at Nickelodeon

    The “All That” revival at Nickelodeon just got twice as big. Nickelodeon has issued an order for 13 more episodes of the new spin on the ’90s sketch comedy show, taking the total episode count for season 1 of the revival to 26. Variety reported exclusively back in February that an “All That” revival was in [...]

  • Brian Koppelman and David Levien Billions

    'Billions' Creators to Develop 'Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber' Series at Showtime

    Brian Koppelman and David Levien are developing a limited series about ridesharing company Uber for Showtime. The “Billions” creators and showrunners will serve as writers and executive producers on the series, which will be based on Mike Isaac’s book “Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber.” Isaac will serve as co-executive producer on the project, which [...]

  • All Rise Prodigal Son Network TV

    Networks Tout Delayed Viewing Amid Dismal Early-Season Numbers

    The 2019-20 broadcast premiere season has begun, and the ratings are … underwhelming. More specifically, the Nielsen live-plus-same day ratings are underwhelming. Of the 13 new shows that debuted across the Big 4 during premiere week (Sept. 23-29), the highest-rated was Fox’s “Prodigal Son,” which notched a 0.96 rating in adults 18-49. In terms of [...]

  • RAVEN'S HOME - Disney Channel's "Raven's

    'Raven's Home' Renewed for Season 4 at Disney Channel (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Raven’s Home” has been renewed for a fourth season at Disney Channel, Variety has learned exclusively. In addition, Alison Taylor is joining the fourth season as an executive producer alongside series lead Raven-Symoné and showrunner Warren Hutcherson. Production on the new season will begin later this year. “Raven is a huge part of the Disney Channel [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content