Babson Park Actress Plays Iconic Homeless Lynn In Netflix’s Cobra Kai
by James Coulter
Whether begging for food or money or even helping to twirl a sign, Homeless Lynn remains a common sight around the Cobra Kai dojo in the Netflix series, Cobra Kai, currently streaming its fourth season.
Susan Gallagher, a Polk County local, plays the spunky homeless character. While a relatively minor character, Lynn has become popular among fans. She even has a fan group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2701589869963294
In fact, when Susan posted an Instagram photo earlier this year of an Atlanta skyline with the caption, “Great to be back in Atlanta and even be better to wake up to this view,” fans interpreted the post as proof that the series was back in production.
“To me, the character of Homeless Lynn is just as important as any other character, and she is one of the funniest on the show,” said the narrator in a video on the Cobra Kai Kid YouTube channel, which has more than 123 thousand subscribers.
Susan has been an actress in Central Florida for many years. She currently lives in Babson Park with her husband, Jimbo Jahna (born and raised in Lake Wales), and her two children, Caroline and Bo.
Her current role came about while browsing Actor’s Access, a self-submission audition website for actors. She discovered a call for a character called Lynn the Homeless Woman in Cobra Kai. Upon learning that the series would be a continuation of the Karate Kid franchise, Susan realized the role could be huge. While it wasn’t a role she would typically apply for, she decided to apply to expand her potential, she explained.
“Because of my specific look and category, none of my agents would have submitted me for a character-type role of a homeless woman; but I have been determined for many years to bust out of that small box that the business has put me in because I love character type roles and challenging myself as an actor that way, so I submitted myself,” she said.
For her submission, she had several headshots taken by a close friend from Crooked Lake, Beau Williams, who has been in the business for many years. She decided to have a headshot taken with her in character, so she had one taken of her looking as messy as possible.
“I went for a different look, for a woman down on her luck or drug addict or someone working the early bird shift at the Waffle House and has not gotten enough sleep,” she explained. “It is a completely gritty-looking headshot with a different headshot from the others.”
She also filmed footage of herself at a local taping studio. For the test reel, she dressed up in her husband’s oversized, worn-out sweatshirt, wore her hair out long with a few dreadlocks, and added dark under her eyes and white on her lip. She made herself appear as disgusting as she could.
She filmed two takes with two different acting styles, allowing her to show off her range. She submitted her headshots and test reels with her audition. Three weeks later, she received a call from her agent informing her that she had received the audition.
“I didn’t even tell them I was doing it because they know I am very independent and proactive, and I do a lot of stuff submission,” she said. “It was a long shot that I even forgot all about telling them. Three weeks later, my agent called me, and they thought they made a mistake because they had a callback for Cobra Kai for Lynn, the Homeless Woman. I was like, ‘Oh, wow, I forgot all about it.'”
When she attended her audition in Atlanta, she met the three creators of the show. She dressed for the part by dressing in full character, a move that made quite the impression, she said. She acted for them, and a few days later, she was chosen for the role.
“It was a wonderful opportunity,” she said. “I have fallen in love with Cobra Kai. And it is not just the hardcore Karate Kid fans [that love the show], but also the new Cobra Kai fans. So it has been a blessing for me and my family, just being part of something so special, and I am very thankful for.”
Because Lynn was so different from her previous acting gigs, acting out the role proved quite challenging. Nevertheless, she enjoys being able to explore her character and stretch the boundaries of her role-playing.
Her role begins in the hair and makeup chair. Layers of dirt and makeup are applied to her face, body, and even under her nails. Her hair is messed up with dreadlocks. Her clothes are ratty and tattered, even beaten with chains to wear them down. The icing on the cake is when her teeth are painted individually with brown on and in-between each tooth.
“Basically, I am so filthy that [it] helps me to get into the character beneath her filthy skin,” she said. “It really helps me as an actor to feel like I am this homeless woman and to bring some truth to this character and the words on the page.”
Getting dressed and prepared with makeup may be challenging, but equally so is getting out of wardrobe and makeup, which is very important, she said.
“It is challenging to clean up afterward,” Susan said. “You can’t jump into your car and stop by Starbucks on your way home; otherwise, you get arrested.”
Interestingly enough, Susan is a black belt in Tai Kwan Do, as is everyone else in her family. Even then, despite acting in a series based on the Karate Kid movie franchise, she has not required any special training for martial arts, nor needed to utilize any of her own martial arts skills, though she is more than prepared to do so.
Thus far, her character has provided comedic relief to the series, with her quirky character bouncing off the more straight-forward characters like Johnny Lawrence. Four seasons in, and she still enjoys her role, especially with the surprise popularity it has received.
“We don’t know where they will take this character because she has become a fan favorite, and I am having a blast,” she said. “I keep my expectations somewhat low because I am not in a position to make these decisions regarding my character, I enjoy the ride and am grateful for being in however many episodes they have me in to keep bringing me back. So, I like to stay here in reality and take it a day at a time and be grateful for anything that comes my way.”
Cobra Kai is currently streaming its fourth season on Netflix. To learn more about Susan Gallagher, visit her Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/iamsusangallagher, her Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/SusanGallagherOfficial, and her Twitter at: https://twitter.com/susanlgallagher