Jackie Tohn is basking in the after-“GLOW.”
“There’s a big, huge, monstrous ‘GLOW’ billboard in Times Square right now and that had me tearing up this morning,” marvels Oceanside born-and-raised Tohn, who stars as Melanie “Melrose” Rosen in the Netflix seriocomedy about 1980s women wrestlers, loosely based on the real-life Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. After an acclaimed first season last summer, it returns Friday with pre-release reviews that are just as slammin’.
And Tohn couldn’t be more gratified and amazed that she and the series — starring Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin as former friends sundered by betrayal, who now must work together in the ring — are at The Crossroads of the World. “That was a dream I really never let myself dream, being on a billboard in Times Square,” says the comedian-actress-singer, 37. “That was, like, too big a dream to feel attainable, that maybe this career wouldn’t ever happen for me. I’ve been at this since I was 9 and now I’m on a billboard in Times Square and I was like, ‘Hey! It happened!’ ”
At the end of the 10-episode first season, the GLOW gals had just shot their first televised match and seemed poised for at least local-market success. But the upcoming season sees the (fictional) “GLOW” series within the (real-life) “GLOW” series in danger of cancellation, usurped in its time slot by a men’s wrestling show. What to do? As director and impresario Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron) puts it, “Set the weirdos free and see what happens.”
“Melrose in season 2 is still a wiseass who definitely always wants to be the center of attention,” Tohn says of her character. “In season 1 she was really out for herself. There was nothing she wouldn’t do to further her own gain within the team and her own, like, kind of ‘cool’ factor. I think in season 2 she still has a mouth, but she’s much more of a team player. And she uses her full overzealousness, her ideas and her sort of producer brain [for her hopefully helpful schemes]. Like, you look at a criminal sometimes and you’re like, ‘God, if you could just use your brains for good!”
Since production wrapped last season, the 1998 Oceanside High grad, whose retired parents, Bella and Alan, still live in Oceanside, has performed in numerous Southern California comedy-club shows, preferring it to solo gigs on the road. “It was my bread and butter,” she says of stand-up comics’ hard-grind touring life. “And now it’s, like, to go back to the rental cars and the snow and Upper Peninsula Michigan — no, boy!”
She’s also completed roles in two upcoming independent features. In “Spell,” she appears in flashback as the dead girlfriend of a man (Barak Hardley) with mental issues who makes a journey of discovery in Iceland. Then there's “Elsewhere,” in which she plays the sensible potential love interest of a widower (Aden Young) in a rural Pacific Northwest town who is drawn to a free-spirited newcomer (Parker Posey). Tohn also co-starred with Heather Pasternak in a roughly 4-minute “Broad City”-like Web comedy short, “Are We Okay?,” which she dismisses as something “I made with some friends in, like, 2015, that I guess they’re putting out now.”
Tohn, who was one of 36 semifinalists in the eighth season of “American Idol” in 2009 and appeared in Bravo’s singer-songwriter competition “Platinum Hit” two years later, also has a five-track EP due out July 27.
But wait! There’s more! “I’m hoping to get my one-woman show up and running in New York and L.A.,” she says. “I did one in New York in 2014 and then came out to L.A. in 2015 and started working a lot more, so I definitely want to get back to my live-stage, crazy-lady, solo-show roots.”
And even though it’s a phone interview, you can just sense that Tohn is positively glowing.