Transferring from BBC to Netflix, Get Even is a new teen high school drama series.
The premise – In a secret act of skillful revenge, four private school classmates team up and work together to expose a string of schoolwide injustices. What stands out about this series is that the four leads are more representative of the UK’s racial make up.
TBB Talks spoke to one of Get Even’s leads, Bethany Antonia to find out more about the series and her character...
Please introduce yourself
Hi, my name is Bethany Antonia and I’m an actress from Birmingham.
What’s Get Even all about?
Get Even is a 10-part drama series based on the novel written by Gretchen McNeil. It follows 4 teenage girls, each from completely different walks of life, and social circles, who join forces to form a secret society to challenge the injustices of the school. They call themselves DGM, because they Don’t Get Mad, they “Get Even”. But things start to fall apart for the girls when they find themselves smack bang in the middle of a murder investigation.
Tell us about your character?
I play ‘Margot Rivers‘, and her alias within the group is “The Genius” – each of the girls has one. Margot is the brains behind all of DGM’s operations. She is a super-smart, quick thinking, reserved but loving teenager who has recently moved to England from America. She’s had a really hard time making friends at the school and DGM become a welcoming safe space for her. She has a few really amazing storylines throughout the series. What’s brilliant about the show is that alongside all of the craziness and murder there are also just regular coming of age stories happening. Each of the girls is navigating the high’s and lows of their teenage years and trying to figure out the kind of people they want to be, so we get to see some really lovely storylines unfold.
Your character has natural afro hair, which is rare in a show of this style – how was this decision made, and was it important to you?
This was so so important to me. As soon as I read the first audition scene for the show I vowed to myself that if I got the role she would have an afro. I made a point of wearing it out for every single audition round and meeting after that so that they wouldn’t see her any other way.
Getting a lead role in a series like this has been something I’ve really dreamt of for years. Shows like this were so important to me when I was younger and I’ve always just wanted to be a part of that for someone else. But I despised my hair when I was growing up, and relaxed it continuously throughout my childhood and teenage years. I didn’t wear it out in its natural afro until I was 17, and I look back on those lost years that were filled with so much self-hatred and can’t help but wonder if 12 year old me would still have been so keen to reach for the relaxer if she’d seen a few more girls that looked like her, with her hair texture in her favourite TV shows.
One of the producers actually reached out at the beginning of filming to talk about Margot’s hair journey throughout the show, he wanted to show her playing around with different styles and her having her own little hair journey, which I really appreciated because I know how rare that is. In terms of maintenance, it is common knowledge that black actors don’t always have the best time in the hair and makeup truck. And it can be quite tough when you’re faced with an all-white hair and makeup team who haven’t had personal experience with your hair type. But on Get Even the whole team was invested and willing to do anything they could and buy any products that were needed to ensure my hair was maintained.
Another unusual aspect is that the four leads are multi-ethnic – how does this play into the storyline at all, and if it doesn’t how is the show authenticated as a result?
This is something that we’re all really proud of, and I’d like to think that the release of this show, puts us further down the road to it no longer being unusual. Their ethnicities don’t play into the storyline at all, it’s never the trigger or a talking point for any of the decisions that happen in the show. They’re just a group of girls doing something cool, and some of them happen to be brown, which I love.
We don’t get to see much of the girls’ individual cultures, and it would have been lovely to have gotten a wider look into their home lives and family dynamics. But I think across the board that often gets forgotten amongst all the drama of the actual storylines. It’s something that as an industry we need to be better at and a conversation we need to keep having with our fellow creatives. How can we tweak teeny chunks of this series, or film, to carve out the room needed to showcase these characters’ individual backgrounds and cultures? I’d like to think if we were lucky enough to get a second season of Get Even that it’s something that could be worked into the episodes because there is so much to explore.
Get Even has the glossy shine of typical teen American shows, and of course the brilliant Sex Education – what were some of your favourite shows of this style and was it always an aspiration of yours to be in a show like this? – Did it live up to your expectation?
Honestly, yes I’ve always wanted to be in a show like this. Partly because the school based shows I loved so much growing up were what fuelled my love for acting. Sex Education is incredible. I was a huge fan of the Sarah Jane Adventures when I was younger, another school-based mystery show, and Gossip Girl.
Working on Get Even lived up to every expectation. Put a bunch of twenty-somethings in a school uniform and tell them they’re making a TV show and all hell breaks loose. It was so much fun. The whole experience of it too, all living together in a big hotel, spending evenings and weekends together and there were so many of us it really did just feel like we were back at school.
The dream of filmmakers and actors now is to get a show or film on Netflix – what was it like for you being a part of a Netflix project?
I was over the moon the be a part of it. You’re right, there’s something about being involved with Netflix that makes everyone go a little giddy. It felt very surreal all the way through. This was quite an unusual situation in that the show is a co-production between the BBC and Netflix, and all the way through filming we had input from both, so from behind the scenes, that was quite interesting to watch. It actually came out in February on BBC iPlayer in the UK, and now it’s about to have its Netflix launch. So luckily we got to do all the exciting in-person stuff for the Beeb before lockdown happened, and now we get to enjoy a launch all over again, just virtually this time.
Lockdown has proved to be a moment of realisation for everyone. What did you learn about yourself personally and as a creative?
Honestly, Lockdown has been invaluable for me. I don’t think any of us realise how easy it is for bits of yourself to disappear over the years when you’re working so hard on your craft. When everything stopped I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was so restless, because what do you do when the thing that usually takes up 90% of your time has vanished? There were no scripts to read or tapes to film.
I was forced to go back to basics and fall in love with myself and my own company. I starting reading books without time restraints, doing yoga, going for super long walks, enjoying cooking, watching all the films and shows that had been sitting waiting on the watchlist. I was lucky to be in lockdown with my mom, so we got to do loads of fun stuff together, and I found us having conversations that we would never have had before, in-depth switched on conversations, that when the world was running at usual pace we didn’t ever make time for.
Creatively it has been tough. I was supposed to start filming something in July but by May we’d had the news that it wouldn’t be going ahead this year, and that was devastating. Actors wait so long for jobs to come around and it was hard to stay positive, but knowing that everyone else was in the same boat was comforting for sure. Everything moved online and I found Zoom meetings/auditions really strange at first but I’ve gotten used to them now and actually kind of like them.
Share your favourite line from Get Even
My favourite line that Margot says is “I’m the shy girl, the geeky one, the one who works hard and is a sucker but … I don’t want to be her anymore” Because we love us some self-reinvention and I’m so here for showing girls openly that they can always change their mind about who they want to be in the world.
What’s next for you?
I wish I knew. I’m really hoping that now the industry is starting to get back on track something fun comes up for the end of the year. I’m itching to get back on set. There are a few things in the pipeline, and the project that I was supposed to be filming right now has been postponed to next year so if all goes to plan that’s something to look
Finally, post-pandemic what are you looking forward to?
I’m really just looking to have a varied and exciting career. I’m really hoping to do a play or a musical sometime soon. Lockdown made me realise how much we took theatre for granted. And on screen, I’d love to do a sci-fi project or a period drama.
Get Even is available to watch on Netflix.