Suddenly, I'm a lot more inclined to randomly announce that I went to cheerleading camp once in sixth grade, and it's all because of Netflix's Cheer. The show, which came to the platform by way of Last Chance U director Greg Whiteley, took over the screens of cheerleading fanatics and total strangers alike as we became embedded in the Navarro Cheer team. The series focuses on Coach Monica Aldama and her team of 40 cheerleaders (and at times, pseudo-children) at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas as they prepare for the national championship at Daytona Beach, Florida.
The show is so addicting \because of the genuine affection audiences developed for the members of the team, including standouts like Jerry Harris, La'Darius Marshall, Gabi Butler, Lexi Brumback, and Morgan Simianer. In a matter of days, these college students from the middle of nowhere, Texas, went from local cheer legends to having celebrities on Instagram begging to join the team. It's a lot, Morgan and Lexi recently told Refinery29 over the phone, but there's still so much we didn't see in the six-hour show.
Luckily Morgan and Lexi were down to answer all the lingering questions I had after binge-watching Cheer straight through. But, they teased, there are some things about the magic of Navarro Cheer that will always be a mystery.
Refinery29: When this show was filming, did you expect it would become this popular?
Morgan Simianer: “I can't even, like, process anything. I thought it would be popular in the cheerleading world, but then after the first few days, seeing how it was getting a lot of attention in different countries and on social media that didn't know anything about cheerleading, I was very shocked about how many people this reached out to.”
Lexi Brumback: “It was crazy when I was seeing celebrities tweet about us and follow us on Instagram. Like Ellen [DeGeneres] watched our show. That's crazy!”
Did you see Simone Biles said she wants to join the team?
L: “We were all shook when we saw that. We were like, get her over here now.”
netflix series CHEER had me convinced after 2020 I’m trying out for Navarro Cheer— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) January 23, 2020
Are you as busy as the show makes it look?
M: “I never have much downtime cause I love being busy. I love going in and working outside of practices and doing schoolwork and all that stuff. But I practice basically every single day, Monday through Friday, and then twice on Tuesday, Thursday. And I think they were filming like an average of like 10 or 12 hours a day.”
"People have been posting on social media about it and I'm like, Y'all are never going to find out.”
Where does the music come from?
M: “We actually have Patrick [Avard] who does our music. He will put together a mix with sound effects and everything for each section of our team and he'll edit it according to what we're doing. So it's very customized just to us.”
Did you learn anything new about Monica or your teammates while watching?
M: “Since we are such a close-knit family, we knew a lot that had gone on between most of us, and obviously we're always there to support one another. But it's different. The way that everything was edited, it brought [up] so much emotion. Like I knew Jerry's story, but just when he said it and seeing him get emotional about it, it hit me like a brick wall.”
L: “I didn't know in full detail everything until I watched the show. It was really emotional watching what some of my closest friends have been through and it made me really appreciate being friends with them because they're such strong people and such good athletes.”
What does FIOFMU stand for?
M: “It is just a meaning behind Navarro. So, once you go through the program, you learn what it is. People have been posting on social media about it and I'm like, Y'all are never going to find out.”
Lexi, you left the team at the end of the series but posted on Instagram earlier this month that you’re back. What is that like?
L: “After the show aired I basically got to relive the last year over again and it just made me want to come back and experience everything again. It made me realize how much I truly miss this place and how amazing this program is. And then we found out we were going to The Ellen DeGeneres Show and I was like, Jesus, what a time to be in Navarro cheerleader.”
What was going through your head when you opened up to Monica about the harassment you had been receiving on Twitter?
L: “At first I just wanted to keep it to myself because I was really just embarrassed of letting anyone know what I was really going through. It's not something that you want to talk about cause it is a touchy subject. I was talking to Gabi and she was saying that I should talk to Monica about it along with a few other people on the team. They were like, 'You have to talk to Monica.' I'm really glad I did because I stopped stressing out so much. Instead of being mad, she just comforted me and made me feel better about the situation.”
Do you see yourself becoming a coach like Monica?
M: “I don't think I could ever be half the person that that woman is.”
L: “Anything she ever does for anyone is for the better good of them. She wants everyone here to succeed. I feel like I'm a better me whenever I'm around her.”
What would you suggest to someone who wants to become a Navarro cheerleader?
M: “I would say to never give up, keep working hard, and trust in everything because you never know what could happen.”
L: “What Monica looks for is hard drive, hard workers, and a lot of potential. Even if your skills aren't where you want them to be, as long as you show her that you have good work ethic.”
Cheer is streaming now on Netflix.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.