Underscoring the theme that “the future is female,” this year’s breakout film “Captain Marvel” demonstrates how women are conquering superhero stories and blowing up the box office in the process. Better yet, women are showcased as heroes and villains, making history across the screens. Bringing her passion and humanity to the role of Soren in “Captain Marvel,” Sharon Blynn was powerful to watch. She made Soren’s story rich and persuasive. Better yet, she brought out a feeling of unexpected empathy for Soren. In an exclusive interview, Sharon talks about what made this role so special to be a part of and how she is working to bring attention to women conquering ovarian cancer and to empower women as survivors.
What was the initial appeal for you about the role of Soren and working on the film “Captain Marvel”?
SHARON: As a lifelong Marvel and Stan Lee fan, this entire experience starting from the audition, to booking the gig, to my experience at Legacy Effects, to shooting with the core cast such as Ben [Mendelsohn], Brie [Larson], Sam [Jackson], and Lashana [Lynch], to being Ben Mendelsohn’s Skrull-wife, to seeing it all come to life on the big screen many months later has been a complete dream come true…on a personal and professional level. The initial appeal of playing Soren in particular, a strong supporting role as the wife of one of the lead characters in the first standalone superhero movie with its first female director in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, was out-of-this-world exciting! The significance of being part of this particular Marvel movie is profound and exciting on so many levels.
How would you describe who your character Soren is in the film?
SHARON: Soren is an intelligent, perceptive, strong, and courageous being who can also be vulnerable and tender. She loves her family deeply and in spite of hardships she has faced, she is able to be compassionate and hopeful for all of the possibilities the future holds. As Talos’s wife, she is also a leader and takes her position and responsibilities seriously.
What do you most admire about her?
SHARON: Soren balances being a tough cookie with also being soft and sensitive. Her sensitivity is rooted in empathy and care. Integrity and trust are very important to her and she demands accountability while also holding space for forgiveness and growth. What is it like working alongside such a talented ensemble on “Captain Marvel”? SHARON: Most of my direct interactions were with Ben Mendelsohn and Brie Larson, and that was amazing. They are both extremely warm and generous actors. There was an immediate ease in working together from the first time we met on set. Interestingly, Ben and I were both in full prosthetics from that first moment, so our initial connection was mainly through our energy and eyes sans dialogue. I didn’t have any scene dialogue with Brie, so it was all in the eyes, and the physicality and emotion of those moments can be more challenging than having pages of lines! Generally, the chemistry and synergy amongst all of us felt grounded and real, even from behind all of those prosthetics and lenses.
How would you describe the dynamic between your character Soren and Talos?
SHARON: Intense and unbreakable.
What do you think you have learned from working on this film?
SHARON: I always stay for all the credits at the end of Marvel movies because the post-credits Easter eggs are particular to MCU movies and a true Marvel fan never leaves before or during the credits. What I learned from working on this film is how every single name in those massive lists of credits is absolutely integral to the successful creation, production, and completion of the film. Every name represents countless hours, total dedication, and phenomenal teamwork. Without it, these movies would not be as incredible and inspiring as they are.
Has there been anything that has really blown your mind working on “Captain Marvel”?
SHARON: As a lifelong Marvel and Stan Lee fan, getting to observe, and be part of, the inner workings of what goes into creating the non-human creatures in the MCU was fascinating! Meeting some of the artists who create the incredible prosthetics and makeup for so many movies that I love and seeing the extraordinarily detailed mechanics behind it all was mind-blowing and perhaps one of the coolest parts of the process for me. Knowing that there is so much love and care in the artistry underpinning some of the most incredible cinematic imagery that has been created over the years makes it that much more special to know some of the names and faces behind all that magic!
What challenges have you had to work with (such as extreme weather, big stunts, or something that seemed impossible) but the film still pulled it off?
SHARON: In the scenes I shot, there weren’t types of challenges listed above. However, wearing the prosthetics and the multi-layered wardrobe all day when we shot in Baton Rouge was a bit challenging because of the heat and humidity. Then, to top it off, it was also muddy because of heavy rains on my shoot day. Other than that, we were on sound stages in L.A., and my shoot days were thankfully pretty smooth but long.
What has surprised you about working on the film?
SHARON: I don’t know if I’d say “surprised,” but maybe it was something noteworthy and interesting. Anna Boden is one of the two directors (she’s the first female director in the MCU), and there was a palpable energy on set and around the making of the film in general that felt distinctly egalitarian and holistic, more than the other projects I have worked on before this. I felt a balance and warmth in all facets of the production from start to finish. I should also say that the dynamic in particular between both directors, Anna and Ryan, was the community of the trust and care that permeated the set.
What has been the best part about the experience of working on “Captain Marvel”?
SHARON: Being a huge Marvel and Stan Lee fan, all of it was absolutely amazing. It is truly difficult to isolate one part of this experience as the “best” part. Being in “Captain Marvel” is the best part!
You have made guest appearances in shows like SHAMELESS, THE DETOUR, BODY OF PROOF, and LIE TO ME. What do you most appreciate about the opportunity to guest appear in these types of shows?
SHARON: The opportunity itself to appear on these well-written, high-quality shows is what I appreciate most! Even though those appearances thus far have been smaller roles, it’s cool to see how those kinds of scenes bring dimension and special richness to the storylines. It was also an incredible feeling to perform, even briefly, with artists like William H. Macy and Tim Roth in particular, whose works I’ve admired for years. I was constantly taking mental notes and absorbing those experiences, which set the bar for how I want things to feel on a set.
At this stage of your career, what do you think you have learned from the roles and projects you have worked on?
SHARON: At this stage of my career, I’ve learned that there are no small roles! Every time I’m on set or on a stage, I am part of a larger story being told. I am part of the conversations being had between storytellers and audiences, and the ways these stories impact society at large is unquantifiable. We rarely, if ever, come to know how something we’ve put out there has affected someone. I’ve also learned the importance of staying focused, being prepared in terms of maintaining and expanding my acting/performing muscles and believing in myself in what is statistically most often an uphill landscape filled with potholes, setbacks and the word or attitude of “no”. It’s essential to remain steadfast in knowing why I am doing what I do, and that helps me to keep on keeping on!
What has surprised you most about your career so far?
SHARON: What has surprised me most so far is that I continue to connect with people in the industry who can see all of the possibilities, rather than the supposed “limitations”, of me being a bald gal in Hollywood. In the face of what is already a very difficult path to navigate as an actor, I am still finding allies and teammates who not only dig my Bald Is Beautiful mission, but they also see the totality of me and are down for the ride. I’m also sometimes surprised at myself that I am able to move through the sea of obstacles and negativity that can feel overwhelming in this industry (all of which are beyond anyone’s control), and maintain the tenacity to keep living my truth and periodically experience successes that reinvigorate my passion and integrity for what I’m doing, why and how I’m doing it, and to keep trusting the process.
Then what are the perks of where you are in your career right now?
SHARON: The main perk of this particular moment in my career is feeling that everything I have done until this point has led me to here and now, and things aligned perfectly. Regardless of what else may happen in terms of career accomplishments, I am grateful to experience this very rare and special acting milestone, which is an unimaginable gift for any actor. Another perk is the unfettered joy and enthusiasm from people around me who have unconditionally encouraged and supported what I’m doing. The future isn’t promised, and I don’t take anything for granted. I do hope to build on this experience, and I am excited about all the possibilities of what’s to come.
What has been your proudest achievement as a working actor at this point in your career?
SHARON: When I first began acting in NYC around 2002, I did some background work on SEX AND THE CITY. I actually got my first two SAG waivers from them! I told the SATC showrunner about Bald Is Beautiful when I met him on set the first time as, “pretentious artsy woman”, in the last episode of the second-to-last season. He told me to stay in touch with a “wink”. Some months later, I got a call from the SATC casting office that they were shooting a scene with Kim Catrall’s character, Samantha, who is going through treatment for breast cancer. They wanted current cancer patients and survivors to be part of a pivotal scene in her story to make it more powerful and meaningful, and they invited me to not only be in the scene but also asked if I could help recruit other bald women to be in it as well! Many of the women who joined me that day had never gone out in public without their wigs, nor had they acted or been on a TV show set. Now they were going to show their bald heads to the whole world while appearing on the most popular show of its time! The whole day was extremely emotional and beautiful, and I am honored to have been a part of it. To this day I still get emails from time to time from someone who sees this episode and was moved or inspired by that scene. It stands the test of time! On a side note: In gathering the women for the scene, I had reached out to my friends at the wonderful support organization/community, Gilda’s Club New York. At the end of that shoot, I again approached Michael Patrick King with a request for some visibility/awareness for Gilda’s Club, and they surpassed my hopes and expectations by placing an entire paragraph that I had written about Gilda’s Club on the official HBO Sex and the City website on that episode’s page! As a result, millions of people are still able to get more information about Gilda’s Club! Click HERE to check out the mention at the end of the episode synopsis!
Has there been any great advice you have gotten about working as an actor?
SHARON: During my second year in Los Angeles, one of my acting teachers at Anthony Meindl’s Actor Workshop (the studio that has been my acting “gym” and home away from home here in L.A.), encouraged us to live full lives as part of our acting work. Just as with any career pursuit, it is essential to explore and engage in the broadest possible range of experiences available to us in order to be well-rounded and fulfilled human beings. Therefore, well-rounded and generous and emotionally available as actors as well.
What advice would you offer to other upcoming and aspiring actors?
SHARON: In addition to the advice I noted above, I would stress the importance of study, discipline, and practice, practice, practice! Aside from some kind of consistent class situation, even if only once a week, I would also encourage aspiring actors to do radically honest self-inquiry and introspection to open up all of their emotional channels and deepen the well of emotional availability, in life and in acting. Acting is all about relationship and telling story. In order to be actively engaged and present in whatever scenario we’re in, we need to be able to listen and receive another person(s) in order to respond or react in a truthful, authentic way.
At a time when women’s voices are rising to be heard and respected around the country and world, what do you recommend your fans do to lend support in that endeavor?
SHARON: The most important tools we can employ in empowering women is to open our eyes, open our ears, and open our hearts and minds. Watch. We must be more mindful of what’s happening around us and in the world. Listen. We must listen to people when they share about their experiences which may be vastly different from our own, and build some empathy and understanding. It’s incumbent upon us to learn and grow and be an active advocate. Let’s support other women in our circle in their pursuits. Team up, build up. Even if we may be “competing” for the same gig, we can still cheer each other on!
Do you have any other upcoming projects that you can share that fans should keep an eye out for?
SHARON: I don’t have an upcoming project on the books as of this writing, but fans can follow me on Instagram (@bald.is.beautiful), my Bald Is Beautiful Facebook page, or my Bald Is Beautiful website for news and updates.
What can you share about your current work as an advocate in the fight against cancer?
SHARON: Bald Is Beautiful is my way of using the visual media (TV, Film, Print) to redefine social notions of beauty, femininity, and wholeness for women. Encouraging and empowering women to define those things for ourselves on our own terms in sickness and in health. In simplified terms, there is power in representation, power in seeing ourselves in movies, TV shows, or printed/online media. That power and access can be used in a positive way so that we can see an expansive palette of what beauty looks like, what femininity looks like, what the vast array of women look like. Through Bald Is Beautiful, I work from inside an industry that has the power to change our perception of ourselves, each other, the world around us and live a whole mind-body-spirit life. Bald Is Beautiful is also specifically about generating awareness for Ovarian Cancer, which gets little to no “air time” in the media. September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month (our color is teal, by the way), and this “silent killer” is met with virtual silence in the mainstream airwaves. It has the highest mortality rate of women’s gynecologic cancers mainly because we do not have the advantage of early detection or mass media awareness campaigns to generate research dollars that other cancers have, and I hope to change that!
“Captain Marvel” is currently out in movie theaters everywhere. To keep up with Sharon’s career and her endeavors, you can follow her on social media: @sharonblynn (Twitter) and @bald.is.beautiful (Instagram)
“Captain Marvel” trailer: