Features | Written by Hayden Mears 18/09/2022

Joy Osmanski | STARGIRL

DC's Stargirl is now three episodes into its third season and it's only getting better. The show's commitment to positivity is a rarity in today's cultural landscape, but that is part of why it's so special. The writing, character arcs, and cast all lend themselves to Stargirl's feel-good themes, which only deepen in this excellent third season.

One of the standouts of the new season is Joy Osmanski, who portrays the reformed supervillain Paula Brooks/Tigress. After her release from prison, Paula, her husband Crusher, and their daughter Artemis move next door to the Whitmores, creating some fertile comedic ground that takes the story in an unexpected direction. Among the surprising developments is Paula's budding friendship with Amy Smart's Barbara Whitmore, which has quickly become one of the show's best dynamics.

We had the opportunity to chat with Osmanski about all things Stargirl, including (but certainly not limited to) Paula's transformation from ruthless criminal to awkward suburban mom.

STARBURST: Let's start by catching people up on what Paula Brooks is up to this season.

The newest shift for them is that they've moved right next door to Barbara, Pat, Stargirl, and Mike. They have inserted themselves into their lives whether they want it or not and they're fairly relentless about making their presence known. They're kind of nightmare neighbours, I think. [Laughs]

One of the coolest aspects of where Season 3 is heading is that Paula and Barbara are no longer enemies, really. They're more like friends now. What do you feel makes that dynamic so fun and interesting?

I loved it, if only for a chance to work with Amy! She and I are good friends and we have so much fun together. Creating this blooming friendship between our characters...we've just had such a good time doing it! The writing for us has been so fun and really supports the nurturing, generous part of Barbara's character and this awkward, fish-out-of-water aspect of Paula, who is so confident in all these other situations. But she just has no idea how to behave as a human being. I certainly have been in plenty of social situations where I'm like, “How to act right now?” I think a lot of people relate to that. It has been really fun to portray that on the show and I feel a lot of empathy for Paula in that regard.

One of the things we talked about with Amy Smart was how different Paula and Barbara are but also how similar they are in how much they love their children.

Totally! As a parent, I meet plenty of other parents who I might not necessarily be friends with if not for the fact that we both have children. You very quickly realise there's a shared vocabulary and a common desire for the health and safety and well-being of your kids. That kind of trumps everything else. I love that these two women have found each other. I think for Barbara too, I mean, you don't see her hanging out with a lot of friends. Maybe these two were oddly supposed to be together as friends.

Your role is cool to watch because you get those comedic lines but you also get to do action set-pieces and intense stunt work. we know there's a scene in an episode where there's a fight in a grocery store. In a previous interview, you talked about how stunt work used to be a self-imposed limitation for you. Now that you've done this for three seasons now, what kinds of stunts can you do now that you couldn't do before? How have you levelled up, so to speak?

I think what has always saved me is that I have a background in dance. What stunt work really is is a series of movements and it's all choreographed so it demands this mind-body connection. Dance does as well. It has allowed me to adapt to movement hopefully in a more efficient way than if I didn't have the dance training. I kind of have a sense of where I am in space. Geoff [Johns] is so great because once he finds people that he loves he works with them over and over again. When I saw that Walter [Carlos Garcia] was directing the episode as well as serving as stunt coordinator, I was like, “Well, that's perfect. Fantastic!” Because we all trust and love Walt already. So when you have to do these very demanding things physically, you already have a high level of trust involved. That helps immensely in being able to do these really intense, involved sequences. And the stunt team...they're the best!

It all lends itself well to those action scenes. The scene in this week's episode where you have the Crocks shopping for food and it turns into this intense action scene with some stunning choreography.

The way Walt's mind works is just...I love it so much! I love that they're in a completely mundane setting and you can tell they're just slowly going insane. They're doing all the things they're supposed to do and...my God, they're putting back high sodium items! So boring! So when he comes in, they're like, “Let's go!”

Stargirl has been really good about delivering great action sequences in mundane, everyday spaces. Such as  Eclipso getting loose in the Blue Valley High cafeteria.

I love that sequence! It's so great.

It's really cool that they're able to do these amazing things in just the most everyday settings.

I think it's smart. It really keeps the show grounded. It's not trying to escape its reality. It's dealing with it and using it, which is really, really smart.

Spinning off of an earlier question, I think a lot of people hold themselves back in their own way and don't really realize it. Has doing your own stunts translated to any fear-conquering or limitation-busting in other areas of your life? Has this given you confidence in areas you didn't expect?

Yeah! I had to start training when I first got the role for this just in a basic physical way that I hadn't done in a while. I just wanted to be able to endure the long days on set because I knew it was going to be an intense role. I knew there were going to be demands and I wanted to try to meet those. Getting cast in the show really transformed my life from a health and physical perspective that I would not have guessed. It has been a lasting thing for me. Now I'm in the habit of working out and being in a physical place of strength that I've gotten really used to.

It's a mental health thing for me, too! Without it, I spin. If everyone could just be shown a picture of a supersuit that scared the shit out of them, they would be like, “I'm gonna be wearing that? I'm gonna start working out right now!”

When you first got the role, the nature of your character was a surprise, right?

I didn't know it was a dual character. I didn't know who she was. Didn't know the context. Knew nothing. Thank God I didn't know! I would've been freaked out.

Mark Ashworth, who portrayed Janitor Justin/Shining Knight in Season 1, told us something similar. When he got the part, all he knew was that he would be playing a janitor. Then Geoff was like, “Oh yeah, by the way, you also wield Excalibur.” And he was like, “Oh!”

Yeah, I wish all parts were that way! I think I was told my character was a gym teacher? That's all I knew. It might've even just been like “aggressive soccer mom” or something. I didn't know anything about her. But I wish all parts were like that. You'd be like, “Hey, I'm playing the cop...and the devil incarnate!!!” So fun to have reveals about every character.

Let's talk Stargirl's future. Amy mentioned that you all would know about whether or not Season 4 is happening by the end of the month.

I hope so! I have no idea. You may know before I do. Of course, we're all hoping! Unfortunately, I'm also a realist so I put my hope out there and let what happens happen.

STARGIRL Season 3 is currently screening on The CW in the US.