Welcome to ACTING UP, the place where we celebrate standout performances in TV, streaming and film. Other than spotlighting exceptional work from recent projects, this feature also shines a light on how certain actors got where they are today. Have a peek and then check out these notable performances to help hone your craft.
Netflix’s recommendation engine begged me to watch Ginny & Georgia for weeks before I actually caved. It may have had something to do with my wife’s recent fascination with Bridgerton — or simply because it saw that I spell my name with “gg’s” and decided it was a good fit.
Regardless, I dove in and have to say, was pleasantly surprised considering it’s not my typical watch. Similar to the teen-fueled Never Have I Ever, this one was engaging from the get-go.
The series is about a young mother/daughter who move around a lot, as they arrive at their latest stop in a cozy New England town. The 30-year-old mom, Georgia (Brianne Howey), is immediately established as a wildcard of sorts, oozing in southern charm, maybe not hospitality. As likable as she is, she’s a bit of a con artist actually — the main reason her survival instincts are razor sharp after escaping home at a young age to get away from an abusive father.
But oddly, as the show plays out, you find yourself forgiving Georgia’s misgivings because she’s trying to be a good mom to her 15-year-old daughter, Ginny (Antonia Gentry), as Ginny adapts to a new school, the attention of boys and an anticlimactic sex life. Also, family volatility — as it turns out her latest stepdad, Georgia’s ex, died mysteriously of a heart attack. Based on Georgia’s crocodile tears at the funeral, we know there’s more there than meets the eye here.
Given Georgia’s hard past, and having had two kids with two different men, she has become fiercely protective of her kids — and it’s in those moments when Howey shines in the role as a mom who cares. When her 9-year-old Austin gets targeted at school by a bully who breaks his glasses, Georgia approaches the bully Zach — with Austin — to teach a philosophy she was taught as a young woman: “You win more flies with honey, but if you get yourself a bee, sting first.”
That’s when she encourages her innocent son to punch Zach in the nose, causing quite the nosebleed. In another moment, she writes letters to Austin as his dad (who’s in jail), so he feels loved — a sweet act of devotion but mildly questionable act of parenting. But that’s Georgia.
Whether she’s negotiating her sordid past or pulling batteries out of her vibrator for her daughter’s electric toothbrush, Howey lights up the screen with her charisma if not her fashionable array of outfits. Frankly, it’s hard to look at much else when Howey is doing her thing, making this quite the breakout for her. Whether Georgia is talking someone into getting what she wants or talking Ginny off the ledge, her resourcefulness is impressive. She may still act like a teenager in the way she shops and scores weed from the kid next door, but the character is adulting in other ways — and it’s all relatively fun to watch thanks to Howey’s take on the role.
Georgia’s making crazy good lemonade out of a pretty f’d up batch of lemons. Or as she puts it, “You give me a basket of lemons and you’ll have lemonade, lemon pie and lemon merengue.”
We like her even as she makes us squirm at times — we just hope her house of cards doesn’t crumble to the ground.
The 31-year-old Howey was born in the La Cañada Flintridge part of Los Angeles, light years away from the Alabama accent she puts on for Ginny & Georgia. After attending an all-girls Catholic high school, Howey reportedly wanted to be a flight attendant early on. But she eventually changed course, going on to graduate with a BFA in Theater from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, starring in a few short films along the way.
Right about the time she was finishing up at Tisch, Howey booked her first major TV role, appearing on 90210 (2010). Howey went on to do guest stars for years, then recurring roles on television shows such as Criminal Minds (2013) and Red Scare (2013). She eventually landed in some bigger projects like Horrible Bosses 2 (2014) as a painfully unqualified candidate who gets hired immediately by the Jason Sudeikis character to work on their horrible Shower Buddy.
Howey then went on to appear in the Fox horror series, The Exorcist (2016) before taking it up a notch, logging three major projects that debuted in 2019 including Fox’s The Passage (2019), Hulu’s Dollface (2019) and CW’s Batwoman (2019). But then the horror show of 2020 hit – but not before Netflix’s Ginny and Georgia (shot in Canada) wrapped for release in early 2021.
With a lead role in a viral hit under her belt in Ginny & Georgia, it seems that Howey’s star will only get brighter as they await a second season order from the ‘Flix. Where Howey goes from here will be fun to watch.
Gregg Rosenzweig has been a writer, creative director and managing editor for various entertainment clients, ad agencies and digital media companies over the past 20 years. He is also a partner in the talent management/production company, The Rosenzweig Group.