When we watch television and movies it’s easy to get lost in these fictional worlds that we’re presented with. So much so that it’s easy to forget that Hollywood, much like our daily lives, consist of a multitude of jobs that go into crafting these many fictional universes that we can kick back and relax with after a long day.
Hollywood exists as this hidden world that so many people are intrigued by and want to be a part of. So it’s no surprise why the new “it” trend has progressed from vampires to superheroes now to Hollywood, as people are eager to delve into a world that it right in front of them and yet hidden far away. We want what we can’t have, after all.
So when Freeform’s Famous in Love explodes onto small screens on April 18, audiences can expect to get a little glimpse inside this hidden world that has fascinated them for so long. But Famous in Love isn’t your typical journey. It’s one that plucks a nobody from obscurity (played by Bella Thorne) and throws her into the lion’s den of Hollywood chaos. And we’re coming along for the ride.
“Fans can expect to see the glorified aspects of [Hollywood], as well as the more hidden aspects of it that don’t get exposed very often,” Famous in Love star Niki Koss told us. “It’s cool to get to see it from a more realistic perspective. I think Hollywood is such a secretive world in general, too, the goal is to just keep “hush, hush” about everything. It kind of takes that and turns it around, which is really fascinating.”
Freeform’s latest Young Adult venture, poised to be the next Pretty Little Liars as it takes its final bow, tells the story of Paige Townsen (without the ‘d’) as she auditions for a highly-sought role in the next big movie franchise. Koss plays actress Alexis Glenn, who is someone who has grown up in Hollywood and is facing the challenge of reviving her career – and she’ll stop at nothing to do so.
“I fell in love with the project the moment I read the script for the pilot and just fell more in love with it,” Koss said. “I fell so in love with Alexis so early on in the audition process because for whatever reason it felt so right reading for her, playing that character, and it came so naturally, which doesn’t happen as often as one would like. It felt like it was meant to be.”
Alexis is an actress with a preexisting history in Hollywood, going from young childhood actress into the grit of being an adult actress in a town that holds nothing back. While Alexis is someone who has enjoyed success and fame along the way, that’s something she’s beginning to see falter and she’s going to do anything to save her career.
“Alexis goes on quite a mission throughout the first season to sort of revive her career,” Koss said. “Along the way, she doesn’t let anyone get in her way and will do anything she has to in order to clear a path for herself. So seeing her try to do that is really cool and interesting.”
One of the obstacles she comes into contact with is Paige Townsen, who to Alexis is just a nobody who was lucky enough to land the coveted role of a lifetime. But much in the same way Alexis tells herself that Paige doesn’t present a threat, there’s something deep within that is truly afraid of what Paige’s arrival means for her own dwindling career.
“She’s definitely intimidated by Paige’s success and scared,” Koss said. “I think she feels threatened. Her career is kind of in a weird place right now, already as it is. So any complications don’t sit well with her.”
But what is Alexis really after? According to Koss, Alexis seeks the respect and longevity that most in the Hollywood industry eventually gravitate toward.
“I think more than anything she wants to have longevity and be respected in the industry,” she said. “She was on a fluffy kid show with Rainer and Jordan when they were younger, and they all really grew up on that show. So I think it’s really important for her to feel like a respected actor after that.”
As fans will see, Alexis is a character that is willing to go to extremes in order to get what she wants. She can be manipulative, but Koss said that Alexis’ redeeming quality is her loyalty.
“I think growing up in Hollywood has made it that much more important to her to maintain loyalty with her close loved ones,” Koss said. “She’s very loyal, and she’s funny. People don’t realize. It’s so ridiculous that you just have to laugh sometimes.”
Famous in Love is based on the popular young adult series of the same name by Rebecca Serle, who also serves as co-executive producer and co-creator on the Freeform series. Serle was a regular on the Famous in Love set, which is something that Koss gravitated toward.
“Selfishly I loved having Rebecca on set every day because she’s a joy to be around and she’s just a big ball of love at all times,” Koss said. “If anything I think it was more encouraging than anything to have Rebecca there. Because her and I are already on the same page of [Alexis], about her journey, and her as a person. It was great to have a source there if I ever had any questions, thoughts, or ideas.”
When it comes to adapting books to screen, there’s always going to be differences from the source material. That’s just how it is. That’s because they exist as two different mediums. Two different mediums that tell stories in different ways.
So when it comes to portraying a “faithful adaptation,” that lies in maintaining the essence from the source material in the new medium. Given Famous in Love has a preexisting fanbase that it expecting their favorite aspects of the books to be portrayed, there’s an obvious pressure that Koss said comes with the territory.
“Book fans are always very die-hard fans in general, so I feel like there’s definitely a little pressure to please them and make sure they’re happy with the result,” she said. “I definitely feel confident that people are going to be happy with the things that were kept from the book and the things that maybe were changed a little bit.”
One of the things that is slightly different is Alexis’ character. While in the books she’s presented as this more mature version of her television show counterpart, it’s an example of a good change that allows for more exploration with character and storyline.
“The character in the book is very different than the first season of the show,” Koss said of Alexis. “I think the first season of the show portrays a younger version of Alexis than in the books because she hasn’t reached the same level of maturity just yet. The show is the baby version of her.”
While Famous in Love exists as a means to escape into another world for an hour (or 10 – because we know you’ll be binge watching like we did!), there’s always a message that comes with these fictional stories. Especially for a fictional work deeply rooted in Hollywood truth. So what does Koss hope audiences take away from Famous in Love?
“I hope that people are able to see that as much as we see this world as being there for our entertainment purposes, which essentially it is as the entertainment industry,” she said. “I hope that people are able to grasp that everyone involved in just a person in the end. They just want to create that entertainment and essentially have to sacrifice having a normal life in order to do that, which can get really hard at times. What I love about the show is that it doesn’t try to hide that, it totally exposes it for what it is and is truthful and candid about it.”
Koss said that this experience has taught her a lot of about herself as an actress and an individual. While she’s learned how different it is working in television than movies (given this is her first television show), she’s also learned an important lesson that she takes with her into her personal life.
“I think this whole journey taught me, more than anything,” she said, “if you want to be successful, especially in this business, and happy at the same time you have to stay true to yourself as much as you possibly can.”
Fan of the Books? | Definitely! “I’ve read the second book twice, actually. I loved the books!”
Favorite Thing About Playing Alexis? | Besides the “great clothes” and “beautiful people,” it would have to be the dialogue and the one-liners.
Favorite Famous in Love Couple? | Paige and Rainer. “I think Paige and Rainer have some really great chemistry and I love seeing them together.”
Favorite Famous in Love Duo? | Alexis and Tangey. “They’re like little troublemakers together, and they’re this cute dynamic duo. Pepi [Sonuga] and I are just obsessed with each other anyways.”
Excited for Book Fans to See? | Moments with Paige and Rainer, and Locked. “I think fans are going to be excited to see a lot of moments with Paige and Rainer sort of stay true to the book, in context. Also, the movie Locked. There are so many parts of it that are similar to the books. And reading the books. I think they tried to stick that accurately, and they did a good job.”
“Surprising” Dynamic? | Alexis and Jake. “Alexis and Jake’s relationship is one unexpected thing after the other. I don’t think either of them were expecting to feel any of the things they felt or even get into anything with each other in the first place. I’d say their relationship is definitely full of surprises.”
Dynamic She’d Like to See? | Relationship between Alexis and Nina “because I think she’s like Alexis in a way. I’d love to see the two of them in scenes together.”
Favorite Memory on Set? | During episode 2 when everyone got to film together. “We were just up all night, delirious. We played heads-up for like three hours straight at one point.”
Play Another Character? | Tangey. “Her storyline is really cool, and she has a lot to work with. There’s so much growth to that character.”
Current Obsessions? | Shameless, Game of Thrones
Past Obsessions? | The Office, Parks and Rec., Sex and the City, Gossip Girl
Famous in Love premieres Tuesday, April 18 at 9/8c on Freeform and will be available to binge in its entirety on the Freeform app or Hulu following the premiere.