After the massive success of Netflix series Ginny & Georgia, breakout star Antonia Gentry, who plays Ginny, appeared on The Ellen Show to talk about the project, her role, and how her personal experiences with racial microaggressions made their way into the show.
The segment was guest-hosted by tWitch, who was eager to hear about how Gentry wove her own personal stories into the dialogue of Ginny & Georgia — in particular, he said, as the father of children who identify as biracial. Throughout the 10-episode series, Ginny addresses multiple aspects of her identity, like race and the beauty standards that have oppressed people for centuries. Ginny is put in situations where she's pointed out as different, or is subjected to unrealistic and damaging expectations when it comes to her appearance.
"There are moments where Ginny’s friends have microaggressions that they put on her, and some of that comes from my own experiences," Gentry explains. "There was a character named Samantha, for example, and she asks Ginny questions that are pretty insensitive like, ‘What are you? You look so exotic!’ or ‘Which one of your parents is white?’ or ‘I want to have mixed babies, but I don’t want to deal with all that hair.' And I think another character, Brody, when Ginny has straight hair, he tells her she looks a lot better with her hair straight. If only she had a butt, then she would be perfect."
Gentry goes on to explain how these scenes are all too relatable to her own life. "Those were things that were said to me by some of my peers growing up and they didn’t realize how hurtful those comments were," she says. "To include them in the show, I think, was really important to bring up discussions.”
Not only did her character's experiences mirror Gentry’s own in many ways, but being given the opportunity to revisit them proved to be a therapeutic experience for her.
"When I was that age, I was confused," the now-23-year-old star explains. "I didn’t really understand why I felt so much like an outcast sometimes. I feel like a lot of people, they experience things where something is said to them that is hurtful, or something is done to them that is hurtful, but in the moment, you’re kind of just surprised. You don’t really know how to process it. You don’t really know how to address it. And it's not until later on that you realize, ‘Oh, this is what happened. Oh, I wish I had said this.’ And so, definitely, playing Ginny and playing those moments was very cathartic for me. I forgave myself, essentially, for not sticking up for myself. I forgave my friends for not being aware of what they were doing."
The true-to-life nature of Ginny & Georgia is part of what makes it so impactful, and why it's been sitting in Netflix’s Top 10 for weeks. Moreover, it shows that the more natural hair is both celebrated and not shied away from, the more these conversations have an opportunity to exist and be discussed openly.