Gabrielle Byndloss is an actress to look out for.
Disney+ audiences were excited to see the latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “The Falcon & the Winter Soldier” when it premiered in March exclusively on Disney+. Gabrielle Byndloss shone as John Walker’s wife, Olivia Walker.
Upon getting the role, the previous “Ozark” and “Dynasty” actress cried tears of excitement. But after the initial reaction came the big question — who would she be playing?
“I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m in the series. But what am I doing?’” Byndloss said. “Because with Marvel, they don’t want you to know that kind of information. You just are told you booked it. That’s all you know.”
Going into the audition process, Byndloss wasn’t told anything about the characters or even the name of the show. She only knew that she was auditioning for the role of a wife. Even once the role was accepted, much of the information about the show was kept a secret, in typical Marvel fashion.
Byndloss says that the secrecy of the show throughout shooting allowed her the time and space to fully process and appreciate the opportunity.
“It felt like I just got to enjoy it for myself,” Byndloss said thoughtfully. “I’ve got this secret information and I get to celebrate it for myself. So then when the rest of the world found out about it, I had already decided how I felt about it.”
“The Falcon & the Winter Soldier” shot in Atlanta, Georgia, where Byndloss resides. Though she grew up in Georgia and currently resides in Atlanta, the actress said that the Marvel set was so impressive that it felt like she was in a different city entirely.
Once on set, Byndloss quickly fell in love with her character.
“I love that Olivia represents the strength of a woman,” Byndloss said. “She comes in and, from the jump, you feel grounded and safe with her. She has this strength that doesn’t have to be stated. You just know that she is John Walker’s strength… There’s this loving heart to her. And I admire that about her because she teaches me how to have that a little bit more in my life.”
As a multi-racial actress, Byndloss recognizes the importance of the role she plays on screen — not only in the storyline, but in terms of representation.
“There is a pressure on any woman of color that steps into a role,” Byndloss explained. “There’s a higher standard that we’ve set ourselves up to personally. And also one that America sets you up to as well when they’re watching you.”
Byndloss has experienced many challenges as a woman of color in the acting industry. The actress said that even five years ago, casting directors were choosing her because she was considered “ethnically ambiguous.” Marvel allowed Byndloss to come into the role exactly as she is — a strong, unambiguous interracial woman.
“The reason I got into the industry is because when I was a kid, it was very limited for women of color,” Byndloss said. “I made a commitment to myself that I was going to be a part of that change, I was going to be in the industry, and I was going to clear a path for more women who looked like me to step into it, and be able to sign their life in the way like the way that they can.”
When she’s not acting, Byndloss stays sane by practicing yoga and meditation as a certified yoga instructor. This outlet helps her to remain motivated throughout the notorious rejections that every actor faces throughout their career. Through her platform as an actress and a yoga teacher, Byndloss hopes to inspire her audience, especially young black women, to stay true to themselves.
In a tearful piece of advice to a younger girl, Byndloss would say, “Don’t, for a second, forget how much you’re worth. This industry is going to try to push you in different ways and tell you that you need to be more of something. But who you are is what’s going to make you in this industry. There’s literally nobody else who can do you better than you.”
Up next, Byndloss is in a suspenseful drama series called “Long Slow Exhale” created by Pam Veasey for Spectrum Originals & BET.
“The Falcon & the Winter Soldier” is available for streaming now on Disney+.