While nobody could have predicted the massive success of season one of Netflix’s Ginny & Georgia, actress Sara Waisglass, who plays everyone’s favorite BFF Maxine Baker on the show, had a pretty good hunch. “I want to say that we were not delusional and … were like, ‘What?!’ But to be honest, when I read the script, I was like, ‘I would watch this even if I wasn’t in it. I love it,’” she tells me over Zoom. Following its February 2021 premiere, Ginny & Georgia held the longest streak for an original series at number one on the streamer’s Top 10 chart, catapulting its young, fresh-faced cast to overnight stardom. From her family home in Toronto, Waisglass watched as the fandom grew and her social media following steadily ticked up past one million. “It was extraordinary,” Waisglass recalls.
The 20-episode series about a mother-daughter duo who, after years on the run, attempt to set down roots in a charming New England town and keep their sordid past at bay immediately resonated with audiences of all ages. Complicated familial relationships, a once-in-a-lifetime friend group, the attractive bad boy next door, a fantastic (albeit unrealistic) high school musical performance—Ginny & Georgia has it all. But more than that, people connected to the show on a personal level. “I had so many people messaging me and being like, ‘You helped me come out to my parents. Seeing Max on-screen helped me come out,’” Waisglass says. “There was one girl who was like, ‘I’m in chemo, and watching Ginny & Georgia and watching you makes me laugh.’ To be able to have that effect, to make people laugh through their hardest moments, it’s all I ever want to do.”
Ironically, doing just that—performing in front of people—is often anxiety inducing for Waisglass. In a moment of real honesty, she admits to me she panics any time she gets an audition. But Ginny & Georgia was different. Reading the sides for Maxine, she immediately fell in love with the character. “With her fast talking, with her oversharing, with her morbidity, she just popped right off the page for me, and I felt an immediate connection,” she says. “I’ve never had that happen before. I was just so excited to get into the room, and … when I got into the room, I said to the casting director, ‘How much fun can I have with this? How crazy can I go?’ And he was like, ‘Go nuts!’ I did, and I think that informed what Max became.” Sure enough, Max, in all of her energetic and eccentric glory, became an instant fan favorite.
A full two years passed between filming season one and season two (thank you, COVID), but as soon as Waisglass sat back in the hair-and-makeup chair, it was like Max had never left her. “I cried,” she laughs.
Though, it’s safe to say the Max we return to at the beginning of season two, which premiered last week, is far from the bubbly 15-year-old we know and love. Still reeling from the betrayal of Ginny and Abby and mourning the fallout of her relationship with Sophie, Max is heartbroken, bitter, and self-involved. But this season proves to be a growth period for her, a story line that also intrigued Waisglass. “What I’m excited for, definitely near the end of the season, is that Max is more sure of herself, and she knows what hurts her and what helps her, and she sets boundaries, which is really a beautiful thing, especially at 15,” she says. “I didn’t even know the word boundary until I was 22, so I’m very proud of her. I think she is very mature.”
But it’s not all doom and gloom for Max this season. We get to see a healthy new relationship for her. “The difference there is that, instead of chasing Sophie, Silver is just someone who sees [Max] and really likes everything about her. [She] likes her style [and] likes her energy, and it isn’t forced, and Max doesn’t feel like she’s trying, which is a really beautiful thing,” Waisglass says. There is also Max’s performance in Wellsbury High School’s fall musical production of Wellington (definitely not Bridgerton!), which proves to be yet another scene-stealing moment for Waisglass. The actress adds, “Max’s arc with Wellington is she’s letting other people take that spotlight, and she’s understanding her space and her role in her life. It kind of mimics her role in the show.” We also get to see more of the relationship between Max and her twin brother Marcus (“We have some really beautiful scenes together”) and, of course, the return of MANG. “That was also something that immediately attracted me to the script when I first read it because I love a good female friendship and representation of a good female friendship,” she says.
Then there’s the matter of Max’s perfectly Gen Z wardrobe—think rainbow-bright hues and layered prints—which might be at its finest this season. A Waisglass favorite is a pair of color-block jeans and a bright-green sweater worn in episode eight. “Maxine’s wardrobe truly defines who she is,” Waisglass says, admitting that her on-screen counterpart’s bold fashion proclivities have recently worn off on her. “I used to always wear black and dark colors and gray, but now, I’m experimenting with color.” I saw this firsthand at a dinner in December celebrating the show’s second season. Outfitted in a hot-pink strapless dress, the actress stood out in a sea of neutrals.
Despite last month’s decidedly glam dinner look, Waisglass says she’s a tried-and-true sweatsuit girl. “It takes an army to get me to wear jeans,” she laughs. We both agree loungewear was the best thing to come out of the pandemic. That and, of course, Ginny & Georgia.
Catch up on seasons one and two of Ginny & Georgia, now streaming on Netflix.
Photographer: Franck Bohbot
Stylist: Lucy Warren
Makeup Artist: Loren Canby