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Betty Gilpin Shares How Playing a Female Wrestler In "GLOW" Gave Her an Attitude Makeover

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Photo: Desiree Navarro / Getty Images

On GLOW, Betty Gilpin's character Debbie stands up for herself, and that confidence has spilled over into Gilpin's real life. Before you get to binging season 2 of the show (streaming now), read about out how playing a wrestler on TV taught this once-shy actor how to stand up and fight for what she believes in. (Related: The Exercises Alison Brie Is Doing to Train for GLOW Season 2)

I found my voice when…

"I joined GLOW playing a woman who was more courageous and confident than I am. As we filmed, I realized that standing up for yourself is a lot less scary than I thought it would be. Portraying an empowered woman really inspired me to be braver in my own life, including standing up for myself in business negotiations—something I never would have done before. This show kind of shook me by the shoulders and said, 'It's time to speak up.'" (Here's how you can boost your confidence in five steps.)

I have a new appreciation for what my body can do.

"This was the first role that required me to be an athlete, and it's really made me feel strong. It also made me realize how much of my exercise before GLOW was geared toward trying to be smaller. I would take these exercise classes that were focused on how you look in jeans. And then I would go on a hike and be totally winded even though I was working out six times a week. Now I try to take a bunch of different classes that work different parts of my body and brain. Anytime an instructor in a class says, 'Okay, we're going to work off that pie!' I leave because that is not what I want to do. I mean, there aren't groups of men in classes pumping weights trying to look good for women. They're doing workouts based on function. Women should do the same."

Exercise gives me inner strength.

"I enjoy working out so much more now than ever before. I use it to feel energetic and present and to give my day structure. I always stand straighter and feel more confident when I've thrown a tire across the room that day." (Related: The Essential Weekly Gym Workout Plan for Women Who Want to Start Strength Training)

Working with 14 other women is the best thing ever.

"I went to boarding school and being on GLOW reminds me of that. When your call is 4:45 a.m. and there's a group of 14 women all talking at once, it can be a little much. But it's also the greatest gift. It's constant happiness and support all day, every day. I love it."

Fight for what you believe in.

"Health care is something I've always taken for granted. I just had the flu and all I had to do was call my doctor and get a prescription and it was covered by insurance. But so many other people don't have that option. That's why I'm such a big supporter of Volunteers in Medicine (VIM), a national network of clinics that offer free medical care to the uninsured or underinsured. Most of the doctors and nurses volunteer their time, and I really love the fact that they recognize that treating patients with respect and dignity is as important as giving them quality health care. I help by raising funds and awareness, which is such an honor."

Every person has the power to effect change.

"When it comes to volunteering, a lot of people think, What do I have to offer? There are so many other people better suited for the job. That's what I used to think. But it's not true. There's a place for everyone. Just find a cause that speaks to you, and immerse yourself in it, and you can truly make a difference. Any one of us can be a warrior."

Betty Gilpin, 31, stars on GLOW, the award-winning series about the 1980s women's professional wrestling circuit, which is streaming on Netflix now.

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