Girlboss’ Britt Robertson Gets Real About Playing The Real-Life Nasty Gal


Sophia Marlowe dumpster-dives headfirst into adulthood in Girlboss, Netflix’s new original series based on Sophia Amoruso, the real-life founder of fashion retailer Nasty Gal. [Spoilers ahead for Season 1 of Girlboss, if you haven’t binged yet.] Twenty minutes into the pilot episode, Sophia gets fired, eats bagels out of the trash, and shoplifts a fancy rug for the apartment she’s being evicted from. Growing up is clearly a struggle for her.

“The thing that stood out to me when I first read the script [was Sophia’s] inner rebellion and aggression toward everyone around her,” Britt Robertson, who plays Sophia, told MTV News over the phone this week. “I thought it would be fun to play.”

Her “rogue” character skipped college and grew her small eBay store into a multimillion-dollar, full-fledged business. Sophia’s real-life counterpart’s fortune didn’t last forever, but before we get to that, let’s begin where Girlboss does: San Francisco in 2006, when the 22-year-old flips her very first piece of vintage clothing.

Karen Ballard/Netflix

Britt Robertson as Sophia Marlowe in Netflix’s Girlboss.

Sophia finds a 1970s East West leather jacket (pictured above) in perfect condition at a local vintage shop. She haggles the price down to $9 and, a few stylish photos later, it sells for over $600 online. Hello, rent money!

If Girlboss — created by Pitch Perfect‘s Kay Cannon — were an animated program, a cartoon lightbulb would flicker above Sophia’s head at this moment. After half-assing jobs for years, flipping vintage apparel is the passion she’s finally ready to pour her heart into. To stock up her eBay store, appropriately named Nasty Gal, she digs through dead people’s closets and suitcases lost at baggage claim. Who knows what treasures she’ll unearth?

“I think the show is more of a human story than a fashion story. It really is about this young girl who’s trying to find her way in life and screwing up every step of the way,” Robertson told me. Sophia has zero clue how to run a business, but her headstrong determination and supportive friends guide her whenever she considers giving up. In Episode 4, she wakes up late and sprints across the Golden Gate Bridge “screaming bloody murder” to hand-deliver a wedding dress before the bride walks down the aisle. There’s no way she’s letting Nasty Gal get a bad review.

“It’s nice to see someone fall flat on her face and be dumb and be stupid and be the worst,” Robertson continued, “but also complement it with occasionally being the best and realizing through those experiences how to get what you want and be kind to people.”

Karen Ballard/Netflix

Sophia’s race across the Golden Gate Bridge in Episode 4.

Season 1 finds Sophia dealing with jealous competitors and plotting how to expand her business beyond her tiny apartment. But the true story of Nasty Gal doesn’t stop there, however. The company eventually expanded to over 350 employees and earned $300 million in revenue, leading Amoruso to write a memoir, #GIRLBOSS, about her rags-to-riches journey.

So it came as a shock when Nasty Gal filed for bankruptcy last November. Amid layoffs and a slew of controversial employee lawsuits — many alleging discrimination in the workplace — Amoruso stepped down as CEO. Nasty Gal was later sold to Boohoo.

Karen Ballard / Netflix

Robertson and Amoruso hanging out behind the scenes.

Filming had already wrapped by the time news broke of Nasty Gal’s troubles. Though Amoruso serves as an executive producer, the series remains its “own entity,” Robertson noted.

“I didn’t feel totally compelled to be like, ‘So what’s happening? What’s going on?'” Robertson said about watching Amoruso handle Nasty Gal’s affairs during their Girlboss press tour. “It wasn’t really any of my business at that point. … I don’t know that it has much to do with the show other than it’d be a really cool story to play at some point.”

There’s no word on whether Girlboss will be renewed yet, but Robertson hopes she’ll get to portray “the rise and fall of Nasty Gal” in the future: “I think that would be a really interesting story, [with] both [Amoruso’s] personal life and her professional life. I don’t know that she’d be that lenient with letting us use all of the stuff she’s experienced in life. Maybe, I don’t know.”

Karen Ballard/Netflix

One of Robertson’s final scenes in the Season 1 finale.

But if Season 2 isn’t meant to be, the silver lining comes in polyester, denim, and more fabrics. Robertson wasn’t allowed to keep Sophia’s spectacular outfits, you see, but they’ll likely be up for grabs should Girlboss meet its end.

“I’ll be raiding that storage unit,” she laughed. Rummaging through old clothes is the perfect way to honor her character, after all.



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