British Actress Bethany Antonia Talks Bullying, Black Lives Matter & Her Breakout Role In Netflix’s “Get Even”

Bethany Antonia | Image: Michael Shelford

For many of us, COVID-19 has meant more time spent on Netflix, which in turn has enabled a number of shows on the international streaming platform to suddenly become viral sensations that perhaps wouldn’t have happened as quickly had a global pandemic not stopped the world in 2020. One of the great aspects of more shows, like “Unorthodox” for example, become global sensations upon its debut, is seeing new actors emerge and become popular with a larger audience.

A show that just debuted on the platform July 31 is “Get Even”, which first debuted in the UK on BBC’s iPlayer back in February. But now with a global reach, this show and its stars are making viewers take note of emerging talent.

Adapted from the popular book series “Don’t Get Mad” by Gretchen McNeil, the show follows a group of four high school girls who form DGM (Don’t Get Mad), a group determined to expose bullies at their school. When one of their targets is suddenly murdered, the girls realize someone is trying to frame them and set out to uncover the truth. Actress Bethany Antonia is a scene stealer as Margot, a shy new student and brains behind the DGM operation. 

Born and raised in Birmingham, England, Bethany spent her formative years in rural France surrounded by art and culture. When she returned to England as a teen, she began attending an acting workshop and landed her first legitimate role in a short film re-imagining of “The Tempest” for The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust at just fourteen years old. Bethany went on to appear in BBC’s “Doctors” and Channel 4’s “Stath Lets Flats.”  

Bethany is an advocate for social justice issues, and is particularly passionate about the Black Lives Matter movement, LGBTQI+ rights, veganism, wildlife conservation, and sustainable living practices. We had an opportunity to speak one-on-one with this rising star about her career in acting, being raised in two different cultures, the issue of bullying, and Black Lives Matter in the UK.

Bethany Antonia | Image: Michael Shelford

How did you first fall in love with acting and performing? 

I fell in love with acting at a really young age. As a child I’d always had a buzz for it that I’d never really thought much about or considered. I just knew that I really loved pretending. I was fourteen when I decided that I wanted to pursue it seriously. I’d been watching a television program, and realized that there were children my age acting in it, and I just wanted to be everything that they were.

I joined an acting group called the First Act Television Workshop that was this amazing training group for young actors, and we would sometimes get the opportunity to audition for things that were casting. I’d been there a couple of months when I got my first audition for a short film, a screen adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, and I got the role. I don’t think I’d ever been more excited for anything in my life up until that point, and from that moment onwards I was hooked on a career in acting. 

You’ve worked in theatre as well as TV, can you tell us how different the two mediums are in terms of your approach as an actor? 

When it comes to preparation, my approach is very similar for the two. I like to gather as much background information as I can about the character and work though their life events as though I’m on a date with someone for the first time and they’re telling me their life story. Then I can start making decisions about how what they’ve experienced or been through will have shaped them, and apply that to the text. 

In the theatre, you have to rely on dynamics, full body immersion, and tone a lot more to convey the emotions of a scene, as unlike in television or film the audiences might not be able to see any subtle character quirks or choices.  

You were born in the UK and raised in France, before returning to the UK. What was it like being immersed in the two different cultures growing up?

It was such a beautiful way to grow up. We lived in France for 5 years and I feel very lucky to have experienced it so early on in my lifetime. It definitely brought some personal challenges- the language barrier was quite tricky to begin with, and I was the first brown girl a lot of the children in my class had ever seen before, but it’s an experience I look back on with the happiest of memories. I also think spending some of my youngest years there was a huge influence on my desire to act. 

In France, or at least the village that we lived in, there was such focus on the creative arts. They really push for children to enjoy expressing themselves through arts and drama before even starting to think about academics. My first ever role was when I was 7 and I played sleeping beauty in “Into The Woods”, only we did it in the actual woods! I definitely feel like growing up with both cultures, I was given all of the freedom to explore everything I wanted to right from the very beginning. 

Bethany Antonia in a scene from the “Get Even” trailer | Youtube

International viewers have just starting tuning into the Netflix’s “Get Even”, where you play Margot Rivers. Can you talk to us about playing her and what you loved about this show? 

Margot Rivers is one of the four members of DGM,  and her alias within the group is “The Genius”. Each of the girls has one – we have the Boss, The Princess and The Rebel. Margot is The Genius because she is the brains behind all of DGM’s operations. She is in charge of all the tech needed to complete their missions. Playing her was so much fun. She’s the sweetest, most loveable teenager and has some really amazing storylines throughout the series that were so rewarding as an actor to explore. 

What I love most about the show is how empowering it feels for young women. We get to see these four girls take issues that are far bigger than them, into their own hands and stand up for what they believe in despite living in a world that has conditioned them to do otherwise. I also love that alongside all of the chaos and murder, we get to see regular coming of age stories happening. Each of the girls are navigating their way through their most difficult teenage years, and we get to see some of those moments unfold all the way through the series. 

The theme of bullying is much more exposed these days given the effects of social media use and correlation with teen suicide. What do you hope audiences will learn from the series and this issue? 

It’s definitely more exposed, and I also think we’re starting to see more accurate depictions of bullying. The one thing I really hope audiences take away from the show is that you’re never too small to make a difference. Whether that be small in size, age, or social status. I really hope people take away that just one small moment of kindness for one person can really change a whole outlook on life for another.  

Did you read the book before starting work on the series?  

I did! I read both ‘Get Even’ and ‘Get Dirty’ after my first callback for the series and absolutely loved them. The books are so beautifully written and it’s been so nice getting to see how the original fans of the books have reacted to the show, and Gretchen herself! We’re now on the TV-tie edition covers of the books, and that was the coolest bucket-list moment ever. 

Bethany Antonia | Image: Michael Shelford

Outside of your acting work you are passionate about social justice. Can you tell us what has been happening in the UK with the Black Lives Matter movement? 

The death of George Floyd sparked one of the biggest Black Lives Matter uprisings we’ve ever seen across the world – and that was definitely reflected in the streets of UK towns and cities. Protesters walked day and night, and it’s been the most powerful response to the movement I’ve seen in my lifetime. The general conversation about race in the UK has also felt very different than it was previously. It feels as though people are more willing to listen, learn and educate themselves than ever before. 

Why is social justice important to you personally?

I believe that everyone should have access to equal opportunities irrespective of their race, background, religion, sexuality or gender, size or ability. And as someone who lives a life of privilege with access to a lot of the tools required to fight for fairer treatment, it is my responsibly to use them. I would be doing myself and my peers a disservice if I weren’t doing something every single to fight for a safer planet for everyone. 

What is the next big project for you? 

I was supposed to be filming something right now that has sadly been postponed due to COVID-19. It’s been pushed back until next year, but that’s something I’m looking forward to. I’m itching to be back in a character. Post pandemic – I’m hoping to have a really varied career. On screen, I’d like to jump into some sci-fi projects or a period drama, and I would love to do a play or a musical sometime soon. Quarantine made me realize how much I took the theatre for granted, and how much I miss it.

You can watch Bethany in action in “Get Even” on Netflix now.

“Get Even” poster | Netflix