Ginny & Georgia stars Brianne Howey and Antonia Gentry on their 'unpredictable' mother-daughter dramedy
Move over Gilmore Girls, there's a new mother-daughter double act in town.
Okay, so by town, we don't mean Stars Hollow, but there are a couple of new badass women taking up residence in small town New England — and by that, we mostly mean arriving on Netflix.
Ginny & Georgia stars Antonia Gentry as 15-year-old Ginny and Brianne Howey (The Passage) as her 30-year-old, would-be-Southern belle mother, Georgia, who — along with Georgia's young son Austin (Diesel La Torraca) — are determined to make a new life for themselves on arrival in Wellsbury, Mass.
Of course, that plan doesn't exactly go smoothly. As it turns out Georgia has quite the checkered past that is not so easy to outrun. Add a plethora of teenage issues, at least three eligible suitors, and a mayoral scandal or two into the mix, and, cookie-cutter cute Wellsbury doesn't know what's hit it.
Helmed by an all-female creative team, including first-time creator/executive producer Sarah Lampert, first-time showrunner/executive producer Debra J. Fisher, and director Anya Adams (GLOW), all 10 episodes of Ginny & Georgia premiere Wednesday on Netflix. Ahead of its debut, we chatted with Gentry and Howey about their feisty characters, perfecting the Southern drawl, and which of Georgia's potential suitors they'd pick.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you both get involved with Ginny & Georgia originally?
ANTONIA GENTRY: I was graduating the same week that I got the audition, so I was very swamped with all of my finals and exams. I was kind of stressed out, but then I got this really, really cool script and I thought, "Okay, well, I'm just gonna do a tape and think nothing of it" because I had all this other stuff going on. They ended up loving it and calling me back. Then they flew me out to L.A. and put me in this really cool, fancy hotel — it was just super fun. Walking into the chemistry read and just seeing a room filled with women, was just an added bonus. It really felt super special to be a part of it. I read with what, I don't know, 20-plus actresses for Georgia? And Brianne came in and she was it. She was the one. It's been such a pleasure working with her and getting to know her. She's so beautiful and talented. I love her.
BRIANNE HOWEY: I was actually out of town and I wasn't able to come in in-person, like I had hoped. I remember talking to my team saying, "Is there any chance I could just go in, as soon as I land? I'll go straight from landing at the airport to the audition room?" But they were like, "No, honestly this role is so good. It will be cast by then. It will be gone." So I was really disappointed and I got back home and maybe 24 hours later, they were like, can you self-tape ASAP? So I jumped at the opportunity and put myself on tape. I think that was a Friday, by Monday I was in the room with them. Maybe two days later, Toni flew out for the 45th time.
GENTRY: It was literally like a three-day turnaround.
HOWEY: She got put through the ringer, but I'm so grateful because then I got to walk into this room and I see this beautiful, petite young woman. She gives me a hug, immediately. She also had amazing eyebrows. I felt very close to her and then looking around, it's so rare to be in an audition experience with all women, that has never happened. There was one boy — the director's dog, Jack, rooting us on — but we were just able to put the sides down and get to work. It was really empowering and comforting and comfortable.
How would you describe the show to people who haven't seen it?
HOWEY: It's a mother-daughter coming-of-age story and they're both coming of age at the same time, which keeps it really interesting. Ginny isn't the only one with some growing up to do and they definitely butt heads. They fall apart, put themselves back together, but they're navigating all the complexities of life, the complexities of being a woman, and trying to figure it out in this new town, with new love interests and their finances... There's a lot going on.
GENTRY: The show takes such a fun spin on every single expectation that you would have for a typical mother-daughter relationship and a typical female storyline. It just takes all of those things and turns them on their head. It's really, really unpredictable and surprising along the way.
HOWEY: It's so nuanced and it feels very relevant — and it's full of all these fun pop culture references.
Oh my gosh, yes, I can't not ask about the Britney Spears costumes! Antonia, did you get to chose which Britney you were?
GENTRY: I think maybe "MAN" (three members of Ginny's friend group "MANG") got to choose which ones they wanted to be, but "G" (Ginny) was always going to be the very first iteration of Britney Spears. That was super, super cool though. It was very fun. I still daydream about them, still.
In general, both Ginny and Georgia's wardrobes are incredible. Were there any classic looks or favorites for you guys?
HOWEY: Oh, Georgia's Julia Robert's moment, her Pretty Women moment, leaning up against the car in the beginning. They both have such fun hair, makeup and wardrobe arcs throughout the season. It's fascinating.
GENTRY: I loved [Georgia's] hot pink dress, right off the bat.
HOWEY: She wears that to pick Austin up from school!
GENTRY: It's just so funny. It's so good.
Brianne, I have to ask about the accent too. Did you have coaching? How did you perfect that? Because it truly never waivers the whole time, but, in real life, you're not from the South.
HOWEY: I love the opportunity to get to have an accent. I think it's so expressive. Georgia is able to weaponize it in a way that really works for her when she needs it to work for her, and then she can kind of pull it back when she's in her more grounded moments with Ginny. It's really fun and the Southern accent in particular is so musical. We had a coach at the beginning to help get us on track and set up.
I also love how consistently Georgia has a glass of wine in her hand over the course of the 10 episode. I feel like the glasses get bigger as it goes on too—
HOWEY: They did! Mommy's gotta relax.
I'd be watching and all of sudden have an overwhelming need to drink wine too.
GENTRY: I think that's the only correct way to see the show.
Let's talk about your costars. Obviously Ginny is an integral part of MANG, the horribly-named, but really cute girl bestie group. How quickly did you and all the other girls bond on set, Antonia?
GENTRY: It was awesome. We actually, all of the cast members who play in the high school —so not just MANG, but also Felix [Mallard] who played Marcus and Mason [Temple] who played Hunter, and even Press [Damian Romeo] and Jordan [Colton Gobbo] and all those guys — all went to a karaoke night shortly after we started filming. I'm obsessed with karaoke. I love it. It's an unhealthy relationship I have with karaoke. So we went to a karaoke bar and to break the ice, I just started singing "Chandelier" by Sia from the top of my lungs and then everyone joined it. It was just so, so fun. Right off the bat, we all got very comfortable with each other.
Scott Porter is also part of the main cast. Are you guys fans of Friday Night Lights?
HOWEY: A hundred percent. I love Friday Night Lights. I love Kyle Chandler so much. I actually had worked with Scott before, so it felt like fate. I was so excited. I was a guest star on an episode of Heart of Dixie many years ago. Our characters have a fling and by the end of the episode, we end up in a lingerie, ice cream food fight in the restaurant. So I already felt very close with him and connected and it was such a pleasant surprise to be reunited.
Speaking of feeling connected, Antonia, did you have a chemistry read with Felix before you started shooting?
GENTRY: Felix was one of the chemistry reads I had for the role of Marcus and he was just absolutely incredible. He was very, very kind. He greeted me in the room and we just had a normal conversation. Then we went in and did it and he was just so focused and grounded. There's just a presence about him when he enters a room that you really want to work with him. I felt that immediately. I even got lost in his eyes — so I may have forgotten my lines or two in the audition room. And then after that, he has an Australian accent! The whole time he had an American accent, but then suddenly he drops it and I was just blown away! He's fantastic. My heart may have been beating a little too fast...
On that topic...How do you think this show's approach to the subject of teenage sex, or just sex in general, differs from what we've seen before on television?
HOWEY: I think first and foremost, it's from the female perspective. That's what's so beautiful about Ginny & Georgia, it highlights the female perspective and it's a show by women about women for everyone. I love that Ginny and Georgia get to celebrate their sexuality and have uncomfortable conversations. We hope that these are conversations that people then feel comfortable having in their home, with their own kids or with their friends. It's exciting.
Is that part of what you hope will be the overall takeaway from this first season?
GENTRY: I think we just really want audiences to be able to relate to literally any one of the characters. They're all so multifaceted and complex. It's a very fun show and it has a lot of heart and I would love it if audiences could take something away that they can relate to, and feel seen.
Very quickly, if you had to pick one of Georgia's love interests are you: Team Paul (Porter), Team Zion (Nathan Mitchell) or Team Joe (Raymond Ablack)?
HOWEY: Yeah, it's Joe.
GENTRY: And they're couple name is Joe-rgia.
Ginny & Georgia arrives Wednesday on Netflix.