Marlhy: Breaking Boundaries On Brat Series
Seventeen-year-old Marlhy Murphy—who goes by the mononym “Marlhy”—is breaking boundaries with her confidence, bravery, and dedication to shedding light on important societal issues. Marlhy began her music career at the tender age of six, and she was a part of the youngest band ever to perform at the music festival South by Southwest. She has been in half a dozen music groups to date (as a singer and drummer), including the punk Regrettes and a Led Zeppelin cover act in which she was John Bonham and Robert Plant. In 2018, she tapped into her acting skills as Stephanie—a lesbian character with numerous love interests—on Brat’s Flunky’s Upset, Baby Doll Records, The Overnights, and Chicken Girls. Marlhy carries over this message of gender inclusivity in her original music as well: her songs avoid gender-specific pronouns so that all can relate to the lyrics. This summer, she is releasing three original singles with a self-described “blunt and conversational” tone: “Claustrophobic,” “Green Light,” and “Bubbles.” Marlhy is working on a full album as well with the help of renowned producers Alex Delicata (Beyonce, Rihanna), Mike Molina (2 Chainz, Wiz Khalifa), and Glashaus (Rachel Platten, Travie McCoy). Below, the singer, songwriter, and actress shows readers the ways in which she’s breaking barriers:
How did you first become interested in acting?
I started creating short plays and directing the second I could talk! I’ve always loved reading, so acting and developing stories to connect with characters I portrayed came naturally. I first started doing theater when I was three and had my first paid acting job at four. As I grew older, acting and music started to collide, so I’ve gotten to drum in various roles as well, including national commercials for Dole and Target, an Amazon pilot, and Brat series.
What was the audition process like for Chicken Girls?
I didn’t actually audition for Brat. I’m not entirely sure how the Brat team found me, but they reached out to my agents and shared the script for one of the first shows they were trying out: Flunky’s Upset. I joined the series as Stephanie, who was originally an uptight, nerdy, vice president of Student Council. A little after Flunky’s Upset was released, Brat decided to bring me back in The Overnights, where it’s established that Stephanie is a lesbian and balances Student Council with being the drummer for her band (The Overnights). That’s really one of my favorite parts about being a character in the Brat universe; Brat shows mainly revolve in the same world, so to speak. This means that after being featured in storylines for four shows on the channel, you can really see an evolution in my character, which makes Stephanie’s story more and more exciting to tell.
What is your responsibility in portraying a lesbian character on the series? What have you learned about yourself from the process?
This was my first time taking on an LGBTQ role, and I never felt a difference with this character compared to others I’ve portrayed in this past—until Chicken Girls Season 3. Stephanie kisses then-girlfriend Mel (Emma Maddock) in the finale, which made me a little nervous initially. In the end, what I learned about myself is that attraction and love really have nothing to do with gender—it's about your heart and feelings for the other person. I’ve definitely had feelings similar to Stephanie’s towards her love interests, which helped me get inside the mindset of the character. I think my responsibility as an actor playing an LGBTQ character is to play them with honesty and respect to the challenges they have to endure throughout life. When you're in a role, especially one that you’ve played for a while, you develop your own internal story and connection to the character so that they always seem genuine and true to their personality. When I'm playing Stephanie, I love that she’s honest and unapologetic for who she is, which are personality traits I always aim to express throughout every episode I participate in on Brat.
What has it been like working with Indiana Massara on that storyline?
Indiana has been great to work with. It can definitely be difficult to step into a role where the character’s sexual identity is different from your own, getting you out of your comfort zone. For Stephanie, her sexuality has been established for a while, and she is very direct about it. Because of this, viewers never really got to see her process of coming out, which is what makes Indiana’s character evolution so interesting. You get to see her journey of understanding her feelings for others, which I think really resonates with a lot of people. For Season 4 in particular, Indiana and I were both out of our comfort zones a bit, which can be nerve-wracking on set. However, the only way to have fun and do the characters justice is to trust in the other person; otherwise the chemistry won’t show on screen. Since I had some experience from Season 3, I worked to support her and make the situation seem lighter; I knew that helped me when I was working with Emma. It’s definitely been exciting to see the response and overwhelming support from fans for the relationship between Rooney [Indiana’s character] and Stephanie!
What or who inspired your debut single?
Overall, “Claustrophobic” is about a time when I was going through a rough patch in a past relationship. The guy was starting to get clingy and was talking about long-term commitment, something I’ve never been the best at. It felt like we were starting to lose touch as we both had different perspectives on the relationship, but I didn’t really know how to tell him. Honestly, things were just going a little too fast for me, so I started losing interest and just felt trapped. I ended up telling him how I was feeling, and it didn’t go well. We were fighting often, he started treating me poorly, and I just got tired of the relationship entirely. The hard part was that I cared about him and missed when things were easier, so I hoped it was just a phase. I kept trying to make it work until I realized I couldn’t get him to see my point of view and ended it.
How would you describe your sound?
I would describe my sound as urban pop. The vibe is a little dark at times, but overall, a general theme in my music is reminding people of the power they have, even when they feel at their weakest. I love doing rhythmic melodies as well, since I come from a background in drumming.
What is the main message behind “Claustrophobic?”
“Claustrophobic” is a song for anyone who has ever felt trapped in a relationship and should know that they’re not alone. It can be tough when you feel different in a relationship and feel guilty for that, but you need to remember it isn’t your fault.
How do you plan on using your platform to make a positive impact on the world?
Although I don’t really have a normal life as a teenager, I go through struggles and face problems that most people have to deal with as well. Falling in love, breaking up, losing friendships, seeing people’s true personalities...these are all universal struggles that I discuss in my music from an empowering standpoint. I like to encourage confidence in others by helping them relate to what I’m going through, because sometimes these problems are easier to face when you know others are going through the same thing.
What are your future plans?
To keep doing what I’m doing! I get to do what I love: make music and act. There are definitely some exciting announcements coming soon.
This or That:
Smoothies or milkshakes? Milkshakes.
Airplanes or cars? Cars
Roller coasters or kitty rides? Roller coasters.
Boots or sandals? Boots.
Magazines or books? Books.
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