Television fans and fashionistas alike have been eagerly awaiting Netflix’s latest TV show, Girlboss, which debuts on April 21.
The 13-episode series is loosely based on the autobiography of fashion-industry phenomenon Sophia Amoruso. As noted in our preview, she is an unconventional figure in the fashion scene.
After hitchhiking around America, working odd jobs in record and bookstores and resorting to shoplifting when money was tight, in 2006, at the age of 22, she set up an eBay store. She styled, shot, captioned and shipped all the items herself. In 2008, Nasty Gal launched as a stand-alone online retail store, and in 2016, Forbes named her one of the world’s richest self-made women with a US$280 million (Dh1,028m) fortune.
In November last year, Nasty Gal filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and Amoruso stepped down as executive chairwoman.
She serves as an executive producer on the Netflix show, alongside actress Charlize Theron.
The entrepreneur is played in the series by actress Britt Robertson (star of the movie Tomorrowland and TV shows Life, Unexpected and Under the Dome).
She admits it was a little unusual working alongside someone who she was impersonating.
“It was strange, but probably more so for Sophia,” she says. “I’m an actor, so that’s what I do.”
The actor adds that the link between the real-life person and the TV character should not be taken too literally – the show is inspired by Amoruso’s life but is not a literal account. To reinforce this, the producers gave their character a different name.
“Sophia Marlowe is based on Sophia Amoruso, but she’s still a fictional character,” says Robertson. “It’s not a direct adaptation, so I wanted to make her a unique, separate entity, although inspired by Sophia’s life.”
She also admitted that she is not at all like the real-life Amoruso in terms of style and fashion.
“My closet’s not like Sophia’s closet at all,” she says. “I’m a little more practical – I wear tennis shoes, not those crazy high heels
“I do like fashion and I’ve learnt to appreciate it more, specifically through this experience, but I always say it’s a love-hate relationship: I love fashion but fashion hates me. We just don’t get along but we’re learning.”
Robertson’s background is also very different from that of anarchic former drifter Amoruso, and she admits she is nervous about what her conservative North Carolina family might think of the former child star’s latest potty-mouthed role.
“They may not like the show very much,” she says. “Maybe ‘like’ is the wrong word, but they just won’t get it. They might not get the female empowerment side, but they might understand the other stuff, like what it’s like being in your 20s and struggling to survive and find love and things like that.”
She thinks her mother is the member of her family most likely to take something away from the show, not least because of its positive message regarding empowerment and independence.
“I think my mom will relate to that a lot,” says Robertson. “She very much did as she was told and conformed to the life that was expected of her when she was younger. I think when she sees the show, maybe she’ll think, ‘Maybe I didn’t have to live this life that everyone told me I should, maybe from this point forward I should start doing what I want, figure out my likes, my passions, my goals’. I hope she’ll get something out of it, just like all my family and everyone else who watches.”
Robertson shouldn’t be too concerned. There is a lot of buzz around the show and from previews we have seen, you don’t need to be a dedicated follower of fashion or a hardcore proponent of girl power to enjoy it.
“If I’m going to sit and bingewatch, I want a story that’s fun and entertaining, but with a bit of depth – and to me that’s what Girlboss is,” says Robertson.
“You never find yourself having to rewind to work out what just happened and that, for me, is exactly the essence of ‘Netflix and chill.’ Take [fellow Netflix show] The Santa Clarita Diet. I got through all 10 episodes of that in one night because it’s just so easy to watch.
“This show is totally different, but in terms of the experience, it’s a very similar vibe.”