The Boys season 2 has given viewers a front row seat to the horrors of Cash’s new character, Stormfront (who is, as she mentioned, a man in the original The Boys comics by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson). At first, Stormfront seems like an internet savvy Portland cool girl. Then you realize that carefully managed persona was made to hide Stormfront’s white supremacist agenda in plain sight. Stormfront kills various people of color with abandon — often with a slur on her lips as she does it — and is eventually revealed to be an actual, 1940s-era, rubbing-elbows-with-Hilter Nazi. Stormfront only looks as young as she does because of her powers.
Cash recognizes the abject darkness of the role. She also points out just how much the world needs to witness the terrifying fascist machinations of someone like Stormfront laid bare in a smash-hit show.
“I think it’s fair to ask what I think and why I took this role. I don’t think that I am absolved of all responsibility simply because I didn’t write the role,” Cash explained during a real-life version of the in-show Girls Get It Done press junket. “I have a choice in the characters that I portray, and if this was a character that we were portraying in celebration of her racism and her bigotry, then I would not be taking [the role].”
While The Boys does a lot with Stormfront, it certainly doesn’t celebrate her. Her execution of an entire apartment building filled with Black residents is one of the most upsetting scenes in the series. In this Friday’s “Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker,” Stormfront capitalizes on the white supremacist shooting of an innocent convenience store owner — which she manipulated into happening via the news — and steals Ryan (Big Little Lies son Cameron Crovetti) from his mom in an effort to raise the next generation of Nazi superheroes.
“The point of the season is to show something that exists in our world. It’s a satire, so, obviously, Stormfront flies — these people don’t fly in our world. But they do a lot of the other things that she does,” Cash said of her character, who employs a facist meme farm to steer the conversation wherever she wants it to go. “It was important to show that and to show the newer dangers of white supremacy: the way that they have been using the internet and using narratives. I thought, I can do that.”
Still, Cash has weathered a barrage of social media hate for portraying someone as vile as Stormfront (for proof take a look at her Instagram comments section). “I guess I wasn’t expecting people to confuse me with my character,” she admitted. “But that’s because I know me, and people don’t know me.”
Cash's outlook on social media has therefore evolved over the past few weeks since The Boys’ season 2 premiere. While she initially looked at the space as an outlet to converse with her metaphorical “conservative uncle,” she has started putting up barriers for her own well-being. “I’m not going to respond to someone who is saying slurs. I’m not going to respond to somebody who is threatening my life. And I’m not going to be looking at DMs because it’s not helpful,” she explained, noting she prefers the expanded room of an interview. “Because the social media space doesn’t allow you to have those longer conversations.”
Cash’s The Boys co-star Colby Minifie, who plays chipper PR exec Ashley Barrett, has learned to take a page out of Cash’s book. “I don’t really get a lot of negative stuff from [my role as] Ashley, but I’m on Fear the Walking Dead and I play a pretty intense character on that,” Minifie told R29, referring to her FTWD antagonist, Virginia. “People confuse you as an actor with the character. It’s a fine line to engage and to protect yourself [on social media] … and then also have it be a space for people to just say whatever they want to you. It’s a tricky thing and Aya’s actually helped me a lot in that sense.”
Despite the trolls, Cash is optimistic that fans will accept her ultimate goal with Stormfront as The Boys airs its season 2 finale next week. As she said, “Hopefully the message gets through and she is not held up as a symbol of someone that we should be proud of in our world.”