Even though she plays fiery slugger Greta Gill on the empowering Prime Video series A League of Their Own, actor D’Arcy Carden is currently making a lot of money. Since its debut on August 12, this fictional episodic reimagining of the hit 1992 film A League of Their Own has been the number one show on the video streaming service in the United States. It is about a group of female baseball players who bravely stepped up to the plate during World War II, defying gender norms at a time when tradition was not only encouraged but expected.
When asked about the feedback she has received regarding the series thus far, Carden, 42, tells me, “It feels so good, not just because I love this show and it was so special to make it.” We got there long ago. Before the pandemic, we shot the pilot, and then we shot the show last summer, so we’ve been holding on to it with a lot of excitement. It has just been such a nice relief and so lovely that people seem to be into it that I started to get anxious about it.
Carden goes on to tell me that the reaction she has received from viewers in the LGBTQ community to her performance as “Greta” has been a little surreal. She says that this is not something you can ever expect, but it is a responsibility that she does not take lightly.
Carden says the scripts were amazing, but she was often encouraged to use her improv skills when filming her many scenes because she came from a background in improv comedy during her early acting years at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York with her longtime friend and A League of Their Own co-star and series co-creator/co-showrunner Abbi Jacobson.
Carden continues, “Some sets are like that, some are not, and this one was definitely like that.” They would simply tell us to make it your own after we did it as scripted and received one like that. They allowed us to give it such life. I believe that because Abbi and I both have improv backgrounds, going off-script was especially fun and easy for us. Also as “Greta,” a part of what made our dynamic exciting and interesting was Abbi’s surprise as “Carson.” I really tried to push it whenever I could because throwing her off, making her blush, or surprising her were all part of our relationship. It was nice that Abbi, Will Graham, her co-creator and co-showrunner, and the directors allowed us to do that.
Carden’s role as “Janet,” the hilariously non-human source of endless information and knowledge in the afterlife, earned her an Emmy nomination for her performance on the popular NBC fantasy-comedy series The Good Place. In addition to her work on A League of Their Own, Carden may be most well-known to viewers. She has appeared in the critically acclaimed HBO dark comedy series Barry as “Natalie Greer” even more recently. I inquired of Carden regarding her professional journey thus far and the most memorable and defining moments that have aided her perseverance and refusal to give up on her passions and acting craft over the years.
Carden replies, “I’m so beyond lucky with Barry, The Good Place, A League of Their Own, and Broad City – these are four shows that I just feel like, I can’t even wrap my head around it.” Being a part of these shows that I adore and would adore if I were just watching them makes me feel so fortunate. I actually think of the low points, like “bombing” the stage or not getting a role, when I consider the reasons I kept going. I know that’s a little dark, but those are the kind of things where you can only go up from, and when I think back on some of the times when I was at my lowest, the “high” was right around the corner.
I wondered if Carden’s mentality or approach to projects has changed as she continues to get more and more leading roles as she continues to make a name for herself in Hollywood.
“It’s funny that all you have been doing as a struggling actor for so long is going to auditions and hoping to get any role. Anything you get, you say yes to. For me, having more options is a completely new experience. Moreover, I continue to audition continuously without success. That’s just the life of an actor, don’t get me wrong; however, the fact that I now have more options is fantastic. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to collaborate with outstanding writers, and I hope to continue doing so. I really only want to collaborate with good artists and do good work.
Carden goes on to tell me that she found the role of “Greta Gill” on A League of Their Own to be a little scary and out of her comfort zone. However, she claims that the reward has been worth it and that “Greta” has taught her to take on scarier roles rather than relying on the “comfortable stuff.” She adds, “She’s just so cool and so confident” when describing how she portrays “Greta” on screen. I like being wrapped in her skin.
I asked Carden if she thinks that Hollywood is on the right path toward telling stronger, more diverse female stories on screen that reflect our real-life society and culture today in light of the future and female-led stories like A League of Their Own.
“I think it’s a little bit of both because we are definitely on the right path, but we have such a long way to go because it’s still not equal at all,” says the author. Even though there are occasional instances of female-led films, shows, or ensembles, it is still overwhelmingly male-dominated. I think we are on the right path because it is new, but I want equality in every sense of the word.”
I wondered what Carden would say to her character after transforming into “Greta” for all eight episodes of this A League of Their Own series and experiencing all of the ups and downs that come with “Greta” trying to accept her sexuality. According to Carden, “I think I would tell ‘Greta’ to trust her gut.” I would probably tell her that she is adequate in her current state. I mean, the 1940s and 2022 are different. I could tell her a lot of things that wouldn’t make sense at the time, but she really means it and has such a kind heart. I wish she could accept that as sufficient.
I spoke briefly with Will Graham, co-creator and co-showrunner of A League of Their Own, about the show’s hopes for a second season, and he stated, “We’re in the early stages of developing the story, but we know where we want to take the show and we think it’s a journey that the fans are going to be very excited about.”
Carden quickly responded, “Totally!,” when I asked her if she would be interested in bringing “Greta Gill” back for more information. I adore Greta and the other girls with whom I play baseball. I adore my group. I long to see those people again on that set. That’s what I hope will occur next.
Knowing the impact her character and performance have had on people all over social media, I ended my conversation with Carden with one final question: Despite the fact that the story of A League of Their Own takes place around 1943, nearly 80 years later in 2022, the LGBTQ community is still not accepted and does not receive the same level of human rights as everyone else. What message do you have for those of us in the LGBTQ community who identify with “Greta” and value your compassionate performance after seeing the outpouring of admiration and enthusiasm for your performance on screen and the figure she has come to represent for so many in our real world?
Jeffrey, you’re going to make me cry! I’m truly humbled by it. I feel that way about this. I’ve seen the love and the tweets, and I really appreciate it. Having equality does not make sense to me. I have never been able to comprehend it. I know that statement is obvious because so many of us feel that way, but I just don’t get it. It is something that just doesn’t make sense to me, so it is an honor for each of us to do anything we can to make people feel more at ease, welcome, and seen in any space. I can’t help but see it. It means a lot to me.”
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