Make Me Famous

Reggie Yates's new drama explores the consequences of fast fame on reality TV contestants

Interview with Aiysha Hart

The difficult thing with reality television is that people become very famous based on their personality - or who they are produced into being on the show. That can be very dangerous: we are more than what other people might see from the outside.Aiysha Hart
Date: 09.06.2020     Last updated: 09.06.2020 at 18.38
Category: BBC Three; Drama
Aiysha Hart plays Kelly in Make Me Famous.

Why did you want to take part in this film?
I know of Reggie - I love what he does. I was really excited about this. I liked the idea behind it - that he was looking at social media and reality television. I know Reggie has a personal interest in the topic and I thought it was a really important and timely story to tell.

There is so much interest in social media and reality television, and it can create a simplistic view of the young people who take part in these shows. The difficult thing with reality television is that people become very famous and it’s all based on their personality - or who they are produced into being on the show. But if people are criticising you or judging you based on what they think your personality is, that can be very dangerous: we are more than what other people might see from the outside. Human beings are very nuanced and complicated, they are not just a headline or a tweet.

The figures of those who have been affected by suicide are shocking. It was good to read a script that acknowledges that this is an issue, but does it without pointing the finger at one specific person. It would be too simplistic to do that. Everyone has a part to play in the tragedy of Billy’s life - Billy, the producers, the system, the industry and the general public - they are all complicit.

Can reality TV be a good thing?
Yes totally. Michelle’s character does really well from it. In the show she tells Billy that she just came out and said yes and no to some designs and now she’s a designer. A lot of people can be lucky - ultimately it’s who the public or the editors side with. The reality TV format is very successful and it meets the needs of the audience, I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon. It’s watched by so many different kinds of people and has inspired so many think pieces. I’ve seen reality TV used as an example from mothers to their daughters, using these shows as a way of teaching them the dos and don’ts of relationships. It’s a very interesting look into humanity and the way we react to different situations.

Who is your character?
Kelly is one of the producers on the show. She’s very ambitious, but she also cares about people. She is emotionally intelligent. She wants to find the next star for the show and she wants to be responsible for that. There’s a bit of an ego trip within that - she wants to progress in her career. She didn’t really do well at school and fell into television because she’s good at it. She’s good at producing and she’s good at finding a mix of personalities, but she also cares about the people she books.

She cares about Billy and she sees a bit of herself in Billy. I think she wants him to do well. She sees something in Billy that Steph doesn’t see, she knows he could be a guy’s best friend and that every girl will fall in love with him. But that’s not quite what happens on the show.

As a producer on these shows you have to be quite pragmatic, and if the contestants aren’t giving what you thought they would give, you have to take them in a different direction. So Billy becomes the player, he’s that guy. I don’t think she has bad intentions and I don’t think she foresees what will happen to Billy afterwards.

What do you think audiences will take away from the film?
I’m hoping that audiences will think twice about the opinions that they might have of people on reality TV shows and realise that sometimes they are too simplistic. I hope that a character like Billy will show that people are more than what we see on the outside. There’s a whole story going on behind the scenes.

We all have lives and there’s a lot more going on behind the façade we put on for the world. Nobody is one-dimensional. I hope audiences will have empathy for these characters and that it will highlight the dangers of trolling and social media. I hope it will show how fickle public opinion can be from one day to the next. We live in a world in which celebrity culture builds people up in order to drag them down, and I think this show demonstrates that.