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Betty season 2: Forgetting about the cameras, keeping it real and filming in a pandemic – Secrets from the Set
Betty stars Nina Moran, Ajani Russell, Rachelle Vinberg, Moonbear Adams and Dede Lovelace reveal what it was like to shoot the show’s second season during a pandemic.
Betty S2 available weekly from June 22 on streaming service NOW and Sky Comedy
Betty is like nothing else on television.
Focusing on the lives of an all-woman skateboarding crew in New York, the actors used are actually friends and skateboarders off-screen, so it’s a mix of real-life chemistry and the group using their platform to explore issues such as feminism, race and equality - with a sharp sense of humour to boot.
The stars of the show spoke to BT.com and other international press about filming the new series and what the show’s success means to them.
Filming in a pandemic
Betty season 2 unashamedly depicts New York in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, which Rachelle Vinberg (who plays Camille) says made the production an anxious time.
“It was pretty interesting because New York had been shut down the whole year, but it got worse right when we started filming,” she reveals.
“When they really shut down again the cases started to go up. It was a fight for time because we were like, ‘oh my God, the cases’. I was looking at the curve every single day because we didn't want to get shut down.
“We were also dealing with skater kids as extras and testing them and it's like, ‘Where have they been?’”
She also revealed that the situation meant that they were unable to film in skate parks and had to find alternative locations instead.
“Skate parks were closed during Covid. They weren't letting people in the skate parks so people started to explore and skate other spots we kind of created,” she says.
“In real life, we created little safe haven spots. There was closed-off streets. Like there's one near McCarren [Park] and kids would bring ramps. Then you'd find other spots and that's what we did.
“That's why I love season 2 because we're not in a skate park at all ever, except for the first episode. Other than that we're out skating the streets and that's more fun.”
Rachelle also acknowledges that the team felt grateful to be working.
She says: “To be working during quarantine was actually crazy. We were lucky because a lot of people didn't have jobs.
Dede Lovelace, who plays Janay, adds that it was important that the pandemic was shown in the new series.
“I think it was important. I think it was also nice to be able to capture what that looks like in our world - and not just in our world but in this world, something that we're all experiencing,” she says.
“This is something real that everybody is going through and we can't ignore it because it's so real. So I thought it was nice to be able to capture that in this second season that we did.”
‘It is our world’
The girls revealed how they try to keep the show as authentic as possibly by offering feedback to the production team, which they believe is the key to the show’s success.
Rachelle says: “I think we're just being real. I can't say why it clicks with people, we're just being ourselves and I think people can relate to that. There's a lot of stuff out there that isn't real.
“Also, [we’re] not trying too hard to force a message. I think that's something that a lot of shows and people do in general: let's try to like force this message so people will think we're woke. But we're just being authentic to whatever happens and if there is no clear message, then that doesn't matter.”
Nina Moran, who plays Kirt, adds that she talks in the same way as her character.
“For me, how my character speaks is how I speak it is how I dictate my words in real life. So for me, that is exactly the same.”
Moonbear Adams, who plays Honeybear, and Dede agree – adding that they work closely with the writers so the show is authentic.
Moonbear explains: “When I went in with the writers, I explain what was happening with me. When we see what they write based on what information we gave them, we'd say, ‘OK, this is how we would talk’, or ‘this is what this would be like’, or ‘this is what that character would say’ if it's an outside character, not one of us.
“We give them a lot of feedback, so it stays real to what we actually experience.”
Dede adds: “We give a lot from from our experiences, and the writers take a lot of notes. But at the end of the day, they pick and choose which stories or which parts they want to incorporate into the show.
“They might add a little bit more to it, to that storyline to make it intertwined with what else is going on in the show. And then we'll give them more feedback: ‘OK, that's accurate. That did happen. But this may be a little off might be a little corny.’
“We'll tell them because it is our world, it is something that we are actually in, so we have to definitely communicate that this may be a little bit too off, or we agree this sounds good, this is cool. So that's how it works.”
‘We forgot they were filming’
The freestyle nature of filming meant that even the show’s stars forgot when they were on camera.
Rachelle laughs: “I have a favourite moment. It was episode two… we were running around and in a dark space. What was really funny about that moment is they just actually let the cameras roll. We forgot that they were filming. We were we were just having fun and we started calling each other by our real names. Crystal [Moselle, the show’s creator] was like: ‘Just keep it going, keep it going'.
“I think in the show, in that scene, you hear us saying ‘Nina, Nina!’
“Because that's [Nina Moran’s] name in real life you know? And we didn't know we were being filmed, we forgot. And then we were talking about SpongeBob [SquarePants]. They didn't put that scene in.”
Ajani Russell, who plays Indigo, says the relaxed way of working helps her.
“For me overthinking is one of my enemies. So I find I perform better when I just do it. It sounds silly like, because sometimes “OK, how am I going to do this?!” And it's all that stuff prevents you from actually doing what you need to do.”
And is there a season 3 in the pipeline? There’s no doubt that this inspirational group of women would love to make it.
“Definitely… there’s room for another season,” smiles Moonbear.
Betty S2 available weekly from June 22 on streaming service NOW and Sky Comedy . S1 is streaming now.
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