Fame does not come without sacrifice.
For the leading ladies of Lee Daniels’ new series, STAR, the idea of “fame” is flashed as an escape mechanism and the beginning to the end of their personal experiences that left adverse feelings.
We have Star, played by newcomer Jude Demorest, who’s a no-nonsense-taking teen caught up in the foster care system. She has a slick mouth, witty attitude and quick to take matters into her own hands and then read you in a hot second if the situation calls for it. Oh, and on top of that, she’s a White girl, whose real life is rooted in Detroit.
Then we have the emotionally scarred Simone (Brittany O’Grady), Star’s bi-racial weed-smoking, liquor gulping little sister crying out for love.
Alexandra played by emerging entertainer, Ryan Destiny is another Detroit-bred talent who, through her character, flips her experience growing up in the ‘D’ to the luxurious lifestyle that the Upper East Side of New York has to offer.
Each lady has their trail of woes, but what brings them together is the desire to better their lives by way of the music industry.
Star tracks down Simone, connects with Alexandra (her Instagram bestie) and the ladies head to Atlanta to kick off their journey to stardom.
Together, the threesome with talented vocals and a knack for song arrangement, get a heavy dose of the grit and grind before even receiving a genuine taste of the glitz and glam.
JET joined the cast while on set in Atlanta to discuss their character breakdown and the idea of fame as a healing mechanism.
JET: Ryan, it’s interesting and also refreshing to see that your character is not the typical underprivileged Black girl, but through wealthy upbringing, she’s still struggling to define her identity and voice outside of her father’s fame. When developing the depth of Alexandra, what were some things you felt were important in telling her story?
Ryan Destiny: It was interesting because I’m from Detroit and Alexandra is from the upper east side of New York, so I live a completely different lifestyle than what she does. So I kind of had to imagine what it’s like to travel the world and all of this stuff. So what we can connect on is our passion for music and how determined we are. She’s very determined and very smart. And she gets it. She’s been in the music industry and she knows. And she’s so passionate about the songs she writes. It’s a lot of things like that, that I had to take from.
JET: Simone has crazy talent but it’s clear that “fame” is not what she’s searching for to fulfill her. Brittany, can you talk about your character’s vulnerability?
Simone O’Grady: Yeah! That’s really cool. I feel like you really feel these characters. I think that before anybody in general can achieve a goal, they have to be okay with where they are and who they are. And I think because Simone had been through so much abuse, she can’t really concentrate on the dream of becoming famous as the other girls can. So, I think that yeah, she’s definitely looking for that family and mother figure and I think that as the season progresses, she finally gets that and she does find that it isn’t the “fame” aspect or “on the road to fame” that makes her feel better but just the fact of performing and being with her sister and making new sister relationships and having a family where everybody is protecting her. I think that’s what helps her get on the same path and mindset as the other girls.
JET: Star exudes so much confidence, wittiness and despite all that she’s been through there’s still subtle humor there. Jude, how did you make your character authentic?
Jude Demorest: Star is a girl that I’ve known a lot of times in my life, so I tried to keep it as close to those girls as possible, so that I’m representing them like I should.
JET: All three ladies are dealing with personal pains and looking to escape from daunting pasts. As a unit, how do you feel each of you strengthens the other?
Ryan: I think Alex brings a lot of order into it. She just knows what to do and she thinks before she acts on anything. As oppose to Star, she just does it. It’s good to have that balance. I think Simone is kind of like the heart because she does get people emotional and makes you think more. So, yeah we definitely need all three in there.
Jude: Star just makes everybody do the things that they’re ashamed of …constantly. (laughs) She doesn’t think. She just goes. That’s her mechanism.
JET: Do the ladies really feel that “fame” will provide healing?
Jude: I think that the reason Star is so obsessed with fame and wants it so badly is because she grew up in the foster care system where she was us and constantly for government checks and whatever the people wanted in the houses that she was in. So, I think that she feels if she could be “famous” then [she] can be the boss and in control of herself and nobody can tell her anything and nobody can use her. But little does she know, she’s going to get used but just in a different way. But she doesn’t know that yet and thinks that fame is going to fix everything.
Watch these three sassy, badass ladies vying for stardom in a special presentation of STAR, tonight, 9/8cst, following the season finale of Empire.
Then, tune-in for the full season in its slated time on January 4, 2017.