against the ropes
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Marissy Rose Brightman And Shane Alden Share Inspirations, Goals For New LGBTQ Wrestling Series ‘Against The Ropes’

Marissy Rose Brightman and Shane Alden recently spoke with WrestleZone about Against The Ropes, the new television series inspired by the life and career of pro wrestler Kayla Sparks.

Available now on SVTV Network, Roku & Amazon Fire streaming platforms, Against The Ropes is described by Alden as a coming-of-age and love story. He added that it was inspired by Sparks’ life, but it’s still a dramatic series and wrestling just happens to be the theme.

“This project was right for me because I’m a wrestling guy first and I work in television now, so it was like, ‘hey, this is about wrestling so we can pull this off authentically’ because I’m connected to the people that do it and the equipment and the wrestling school. That’s why it was a perfect story, wrestling just happens to be the thing that they do,” Alden explained, “the real story is about love and finding it and finding out who you are.”

Brightman plays Sparks, and Alden is a producer and actor in the series, and both spoke about their respective knowledge of pro wrestling going into the show. Alden and Sparks knew each other for several years prior to the series, but Brightman says although she knew Alden as well, she had no real knowledge of pro wrestling.

“I actually worked with Shane previously on another project and he reached out to me and explained what role this was and what project they were thinking about. I thought it was great, I was so excited and ready to go and wanted to learn the sport. I knew zero about wrestling,” Brightman stated. “I watched maybe one match prior and I really had to learn a lot about the sport before going into this. I Googled women’s wrestling, I started from scratch, I think I started with Sasha Banks, I don’t remember who she was wrestling but I was like ‘oh, I’m in for a rude awakening.’”

“I showed up to the set of filming and I jumped into the ring for the first time and we did the moves probably a few times I think and we just got it,” Brightman added. “I’m a retired athlete and I was really interested in the footwork and the hand placement and the technical stuff but I didn’t have any prior training and my only training was on-set.”

“I can probably add to that a little bit,” Alden said. “When we first pitched this project to the director, we sat down and thought about who could pull this off because it was really important to me, as a former wrestler, that the wrestling was authentic and well-done. This role really was made for Marissy, she’s an LGBTQ actress and she’s an athlete and she’s fit and we cast her in it because we knew that she could pull it off.

“Even though the show is about wrestling, per se, it’s more deeply an LGBTQ series and a coming-of-age drama, so she did do a lot of training at a wrestling school and the students were real helpful and all of that but there really isn’t a lot of wrestling in the series until the final episode, it kind of builds up all of the challenges that she had to go through, being a girl in pro wrestling and learning about herself and her sexuality before she even has her first match. It kind of works that she didn’t know too much about what she was doing because the show’s a slow build of training until she actually has her first match. We actually talked about casting a female wrestler but we didn’t want to,” Alden added, “we wanted to cast an actress that really had the acting chops to pull this off.”

Alden cited a 2016 Australian web series called Starting From Now as one of the shows that inspired Against The Ropes, and said that the latter feels made for streaming television. 

Starting From Now made me intrigued that it was short episodes and it gets straight to the point and it really helps people with coming out or that are struggling with who they are and that was always kind of the goal with Against The Ropes,” he said. “The show was intended for streaming, for teens to watch on their phones, look at the platforms it’s on, we’re on Roku, we’re on Amazon Fire and it was made to stream and binge-watch. In 2022 attention spans are short so it was important to get right to the point and not have a lot of the extra stuff and get right to the point. Marissy can tell you more because she really kind of helped us navigate this to an LGBTQ story. Being the director, we were new to all this, so we wanted an authentic lead.”

Brightman also said that she also pulled from her own life experiences as an athlete that came out at a young age. 

“It was a different perspective because I remember the challenges, I remember the locker room talk, I remember confronting my parents… it was all so familiar,” Brightman said, “so it was very important for me to make sure that Kayla and I worked together and we were able to really put out there something that she was able to feel good about, anyone that watched was able to feel good about, even if they weren’t part of the LGBTQ community. If they were into wrestling or if they were into crocheting, whatever, it’s really about them finding their place in the world, finding something that makes them happy and going for it no matter what, even if nobody accepts it.”

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