Step aside Glee, there’s a new musical series in town. Created by Tom Donaghy and Lee Daniels, the same man who brought us the FOX series Empire, Star is a musical drama that promises to have us all singing along and dancing from start to finish. The series made a solid premier on December 14, and viewers are already hooked on its three talented stars, Jude Demorest, Ryan Destiny, and Brittany O’Grady. Before the show is set to return on January 4, catch up on all the facts by reading our list of 10 things you need to know about Star.
1. The Premise
Two orphaned sisters, Star (Jude Demorest), and Simone (Brittany O’Grady), escape their abusive foster-care homes and join forces with Alexandra (Ryan Destiny), to form a girl group. They move to Atlanta and crash on Star and Simone’s godmother’s couch, while they try to make their musical dreams come true.
2. It Was Inspired by Dreamgirls
Co-creator Lee Daniels stole his mom’s Cadillac Eldorado, drove from Philadelphia to New York City, and snuck into the Broadway musical Dreamgirls when he was just 16-years-old. Daniels said the performance was so captivating, that it changed his entire life. When he set out to create Star, he envisioned a program that would be just as enchanting as Dreamgirls. In an interview with USA Today, Daniels stated, “I wanted people today to feel the same way that I felt when I saw Dreamgirls for the first time.”
3. There’s a Transgender Character
Amiyah Scott, a transgender woman, plays the role of Cotton. Her mother Carlotta, who’s played by Queen Latifah, is finding it difficult to come to grips with Cotton’s new identity. The mother-daughter relationship and the obstacles they’re forced to overcome will play out during the series.
4. It’s a Rags-to-Riches Story
Lee Daniels wanted the story to focus on a rags-to-riches theme, because it’s something that he can definitely relate to. He was once homeless as well, and he knows the struggle of trying to chase a dream without any kind of support or a positive foundation. The obstacles that he faced while trying to make it big in Hollywood have been infused into the storyline of Star.
5. Guest Stars
Glee has had some pretty huge guest stars on the series, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Demi Lovato, and Kathy Griffin. Star also promises to include some fabulous guest stars, including supermodel Naomi Campbell, R&B singer Tyrese, Empire’s Terrence Howard, and musician Lenny Kravitz.
6. Jude Demorest Auditioned 10 Times
The star of the series, Jude Demorest, didn’t just skate through the auditioning process, she had to earn it. The talented actress went through a series of 10 different auditions before landing the gig. Throughout each phase of the audition process, she was instructed to showcase her array of talents, and she was even asked to dance alongside Beyoncé’s choreographer, Frank Gaston. After the tenth audition, Demorest was called in one final time, and when she reached the offices Lee Daniels told her, “Hey Jude, I just wanted to sit with you, one-on-one, spirit to spirit.” She later learned that she had snagged the lead role.
7. Queen Latifah Will Take Viewers to Church
In her role as Carlotta, Queen Latifah is faced with the task of trying to keep the three rising stars focused, but it wouldn’t be fair to cast Latifah in the role without allowing her to show off some of her singing skills too. Lee Daniels explained that he wants the show to bring viewers “back into the church,” and he hoped to accomplish that through Latifah’s character. Viewers will hear Latifah belt out a few gospel songs as the series progresses.
8. Race & Class Will Be Discussed
Co-creator Lee Daniels told USA Today that he wanted to use Star as a platform to discuss race relations in America. Although the cast is a diverse mix of ethnicities, Daniels believes the storyline and characters will bring about “some sort of unity,” while simultaneously making a political statement about police brutality and violence against African Americans.
9. The Show Was Created With Queen Latifah in Mind
In the beginning stages of the show’s creation, Lee Daniels had Queen Latifah in mind when he began putting the series together, and he admitted the series was actually written specifically for her. Once he offered her the role of Carlotta, he told the multi-talented star to emulate a female relative of his to make the character more “real.”
10. Why Jude Demorest Was Given the Lead Role
There’s no doubt Jude Demorest is a talented actress, and she plays the role of Star perfectly. On an episode of The Real talk show, Lee Daniels explained why Demorest was given the lead role. He believed that showing a white woman navigating through a primarily-black sector of music would be a breath of fresh air for the entertainment industry. Daniels believes people of all races and cultures will be able to relate to Demorest, and embrace her struggles. He stated, “I think that this white girl is so fabulous that I think black people will embrace her and I think white people will embrace her.”
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