Emily Baines
July 28, 2016 11:55 am

**Spoilers ahead so beware!**

When Stranger Things premiered, it didn’t take long for the world to fall in love with Barbara Holland, the sassy best friend of Nancy Wheeler. Although Barb, memorably played by Shannon Purser, is only in a handful of episodes before she mysteriously disappears, she left a lasting impression–Nancy isn’t the only one to mourn her loss. Fan sites have bubbled up all over the internet. Artists are taking to the streets or making t-shirts to display their love for Barb.

Plus, she had excellent fashion taste.

As Vulture lovingly describes her:

Barb is not a Nancy. Barb is the third wheel. Barb is the girl who gets put in a corner and stays there, because a Patrick Swayze type never shows up to announce that no one should put Barb in a corner. Barb is the outcast who refuses to be anyone other than who she is — if Stranger Things had been made into an actual movie in the mid-’80s, she totally would have been played by a young Winona Ryder — and that is why the internet loves her. In a summer when women have been unfairly criticized for busting ghosts and seeking this nation’s highest office, Barb has become a symbol of the marginalized female everyone can comfortably rally around.

We love you Barb!

In a recent interview with Vulture, we find out that the actress behind Barb is just as lovable. This is the first job of Shannon Purser’s career, she literally just graduated from high school. (We foresee a long acting career.) And she had these amazing tidbits to share with her fans:

She didn’t see her fame coming.

“Yeah, definitely the internet buzz for Barb specifically was a lot more than I ever expected. Me and my sisters and my mom, we all gather around and look at all the fan art. It’s absolutely incredible.”

While this is her first role, it certainly wasn’t her first audition.

“I had grown up doing a lot of theater and really liked acting. As I got older, I fell more in love with movies and thought it would be incredible to someday be in one. So I kind of got discovered by an agency through an acting group I was with and spent a couple of years auditioning, doing the regular thing: sending in self-tapes, going in to meet casting directors, that sort of thing. Then one day I got an email about Stranger Things. I sent in a few self-tapes, and then they wanted to meet me in person, so I read for the Duffers. It went amazing. They were amazing. I love them so much. Then I booked the role. That was probably one of the craziest days of my life, for sure.”

Her own high school experience was nothing like Barb’s.

“I actually went to a very, very, very small high school, so it wasn’t really a whole lot like the traditional big, public-school experience. It was actually really cool for me to be in that kind of setting because I had never seen what that was like. I just graduated high school this May. When I was shooting it, I was still in high school. It was very much walking out of one school and into another.”

She had some say in her awesome wardrobe.

“I had a little bit of input. There were certain things where the makeup artist or wardrobe would ask if I liked it, or how it felt, that kind of thing. Altogether I was really impressed and happy with all of their decisions. I mean, I’m seeing fan responses that they loved the costumes for Barb, and I do, too. I think they turned out so great. I love the whole mom jeans and the sweaters and the stirrup pants.”

She loves Winona Ryder just as much as we do.

“Winona, I unfortunately didn’t have any scenes with. That would have been sick because she is incredible and I grew up watching her movies and I think she’s so unique and talented. I saw her around sometimes. There was a cast dinner at one point and I sat across the table from her and I was totally in shock, trying to play it cool, like this was something that happened every day. But on the inside, I’m like, “Wow, this woman: Edward Scissorhands, Little Women” — I love her, for sure. So it was incredible to be that close to her.”

She understands our love for Barb.

“It’s been really amazing to see how many people relate to Barb. There was this hashtag going around, #WeAreAllBarb, and it’s funny to me because I think, to a certain extent there’s a stigma — we all want to be the popular, beautiful person who gets the cute boy or the cute girl and who gets invited to the parties. People saw Barb and saw how unapologetic she was about who she was and what she believed in and what she wanted to wear, even. I think they admired her for not wanting to please others too much, and for being an honest and loyal friend.

Everybody has had that experience where your friend drags you to a party because the person they’re crushing on is there, and you don’t really want to be there but you go there with them anyway. Everybody has been a third wheel, and Barb is a wonderful, nerdy third wheel. People really relate to her and her outcast, left-out position because everybody’s felt that way at some point.”

She’s right. We love you, Barb. And we can’t wait to see what Shannon Purser does next!

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