A League of Their Own: Molly Ephraim on Filming While Pregnant (2024)

Molly Ephraim rounds the bases in Prime Video’s small screen adaptation of “A League of Their Own” as both an important outfielder as well as a crucial comedic actress on the team of women who find themselves bonded by their first season in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball Team on the Rockford Peaches.

“When I auditioned, I think the breakdown said like, ‘the spunkiest person you’ll ever meet,’ and there was an audition scene with her just hysterically laughing,” Ephraim said in an interview with TheWrap. “I was like, ‘I can do that. That’s in my wheelhouse.’ A loud, insane laugh.”

Ephraim plays Maybelle Fox, a spunky blonde single woman who often pumps the team up with her energy and sass.

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“She’s a blonde onion,” Ephraim said. “You think you’re gonna get something very sort of simple, sweet, cute, unassuming. She’s a blonde onion.”

Layers of Maybelle’s character formed with the help of the show’s consultant Maybelle Blair, who played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League for one season on the Peoria Redwings in 1948.

“She’s definitely based off of Maybelle Blair in spirit, less so much in biographical details, but I’ve asked Maybelle, ‘Hey, do you think I did a good job?’” Ephraim said. “She said, ‘Oh, yeah, I was out there. You act a lot like me, crazier than heck.’ I feel like I had to pull some of her sass in and then I just got to do whatever I wanted to do.”

Ephraim describes Fox as Midwestern, and her little miss corn chowder rally speech, in which she likened her past competition experience to the world series, came from collaboration with series co-creator Will Graham.

“I did love pumping up my team. Full of corn chowder. That was fun,” she said. “I loved being able to get so much time on screen and off with Kate Berlant who I think is just the most brilliant comedic actress of our age. I’ll just say it. She is. Sorry everyone else. She’s insane. She’s so, so talented. And I liked being able to do both of those things with her. We get to go a little bit deeper. I think her scene in the finale is so spot on and amazing with [her] tuna cans. Getting to have a little bit of a heart to heart with her was really special.

Berlant, who portrays Shirley Cohen, plays a part in revealing the news that Maybelle is a mother of multiple children, a connection between actress and character that involved Molly’s status as an expectant mother.

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“It sort of came together over time. I think it also evolved from the character that probably I was playing, or we thought that I was playing from the pilot because when we went to series, I was very pregnant,” Ephraim said. “I had planned to be less pregnant, but because of delays and things I was very pregnant. So as a result of that, she was less about a body, basically. In the pilot, I was having fun with being very flirtatious and girly in that way and tried to get that through in spirit, but I couldn’t necessarily do that in full body form because I was busy hiding the fact that I was very pregnant.”

Ephraim’s child is now nine months old, and she plans to use her experience as a new mother in a much-hoped-for second season of “A League of Their Own.”

“It certainly gives us things to play around with in a hypothetical, possible, hopeful Season 2,” she said. “If we were to go back for a Season 2, that would be basically my life because I’d be like ‘Boy, I’m so happy to see you gals. Let’s get weird. Let’s be crazy. Let’s be silly and then I’ll go home and be a mom.’ So I think I can definitely bring some learned and lived experience to that sort of vibe.”

Of Maybelle’s ability to be a mom and play baseball, Ephraim says a firm support system is needed to balance the identity of motherhood with other parts of oneself.

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“Now being a mom, it is difficult, with a baby, to carve that time out for yourself and remember who you are. I am trying to find who I am again, but I think given now that Maybelle has multiple kids, we know, this is something that’s always been a part of her life,” she continued. “And I know she doesn’t have a man in her life, but she definitely has a good enough support system of people who either her family or friends or whoever it is decided is watching her children — there are people who are supporting her and allowing her to take care of herself because we know that that’s important for women. We know that that’s important for mothers to take care of themselves and to create boundaries and find out who they are.”

Other hopes for both Maybelles include finding significant others in Season 2.

“I did ask real Maybelle [about Season 2] and she was like ‘You’re gonna get a man. And you’re gonna find me a girlfriend, like a 93-year-old girlfriend.’ I was like ‘Done.’ We’ll have half reality at the back end of the show, a bachelorette for Maybelle,” Ephraim joked. “It would be great to have a love interest. It would also be great to just get to play some more. I’m looking forward to that. It is hard to to be on screen and only really be able to act from here up [gestures from chest upwards]. There were a couple of shots that you couldn’t quite see my kid, and those were great when I could be out there on the field, butI’m looking forward to sliding into home. Probably not, but something close to that.”

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Ultimately, Ephraim noted Maybelle Blair’s “down home” and “folksy” qualities to fold into her character.

“Real Maybelle definitely [has the idea that] ‘Things are gonna be A-Okay.’ Which I don’t feel particularly in this moment in 2022, but it is useful to have that as sort of a guiding sensibility,” she said. “Especially of a woman during wartime. You gotta kind of pick yourself up. It was it was nice to be able to be the light to feel a lightness in that character.”

Ephraim looks back on the first (and hopefully not the last) season of “A League of Their Own,” fondly.

“It really was like the wackiest summer camp experience with the coolest girls that you’re just like, ‘I hope they like me,’” she said. “‘I hope they think I’m funny too. I hope they also think I’m like fun and cool. I’m just trying to like set their lunch table.’ It was a blast.”

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A League of Their Own: Molly Ephraim on Filming While Pregnant (2024)

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