“I had never booked anything, gotten close calls, and then one day I got an email about this new show called Stranger Things, asking for a tape.” – Shannon Purser
Gilligan. Spock. Fonz. Kramer. There are many great television characters known by only one name. Adding to the ranks is Barb, the breakthrough supporting character on Netflix’s Stranger Things played by newcomer Shannon Purser. Purser was even nominated for an Emmy Award for playing the intriguing character. Speaking with Deadline, Purser spoke about being cast in the career-making role on the Duffer Brothers-created series and how she adapted to working on her first television series.
Purser reveals that Stranger Things was the first time casting directors took her seriously — and it has obviously changed her life. She explains, “I was about 15 when I decided that acting was what I wanted to pursue professionally. I’d been doing theater since I was a kid and signed with an agency, and I’d gotten familiar with doing auditions. I had never booked anything, gotten close calls, and then one day I got an email about this new show called Stranger Things, asking for a tape. I taped my audition, had a really fun time doing it and sent it in, but didn’t really think anything would come of it until they said they wanted me to come in and read for the Duffer Brothers. That’s when I really auditioned for the first time. They emailed me that night and said I’d gotten the part, which was the craziest day of my life.”
While playing Barb on Stranger Things was Purser’s first television role, her previous work and acting education prepared her for the shoot. She says, “I think it was an advantage that I had taken some on-camera classes and done theater, so I kind of knew what was expected of me, but I definitely remember my first day on set, seeing the cameras and all the equipment and feeling so out of my league. I’m really lucky, though, because the Duffers and everybody on set were really gracious and patient. It was also really encouraging to me that I did feel like I was able to pick it up pretty quickly. It made me feel good about my decision to try and pursue this. It just fell together so perfectly.”