Make Me Famous

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

Interview with Emma Rigby

It's an insight into a world that a lot of people think they - from the periphery - would love to be a part of. But being inside it can be very toxic. You can get lost.Emma Rigby
Date: 09.06.2020     Last updated: 09.06.2020 at 18.38
Category: BBC Three; Drama
Emma Rigby plays Michelle in Make Me Famous.

Why did you want to take part in this project?
When I read the script I really connected with it, as I know what it’s like to feel so exposed from a young age. I started on Hollyoaks when I was only 14 years old, was there for a long period of time and on screen every day - I know how it can make you feel vulnerable.

Now, so many reality contestants are confronted with these life-changing experiences, they are recognised and judged all the time. I’m also from St Helens in Merseyside, which has the highest rate of suicide in the country, so I know it’s a really pressing issue. Mental health affects us all, no matter who we are and where we are from. I hope this film helps to raise awareness of the issue and encourages conversations about it. I’ve watched a lot of the other BBC Three standalone dramas like Murdered By My Boyfriend and Murdered By My Father and I thought they were incredible, so I knew the story would be in safe hands. This is the work I want to be doing.

Who is Michelle? 
Out of the whole piece I think Michelle is the character with the most sincerity. She has had a transition and found success from her experience on a reality show - she has been able to monetise it. I think this happened because of her relatability to viewers: on the reality show it seems she was hurt by Billy, so viewers have seen her vulnerability and can connect with it. And then after she comes out of the show, she is managed by the right people and makes all the right moves - but is still fundamentally the person she was when she went into the show.

Her success is a lot to do with the fact that she has the right management and the right people around her. She’s the product of her team in many ways. She has her people, her little army. A lot of people in the industry don’t have that and it makes a huge difference.

What’s Michelle’s relationship with Billy like?
I think her connection with Billy is genuine. She wants to help Billy - there’s a personal pull there, even if he has hurt her feelings in the past. I think she’ll always have some feelings towards him. When you’ve had a relationship with someone, you often still want the best for them.

Did you speak to Reggie about the script?
It’s so funny - Reggie and I actually worked on a film together once! I still have a poster of us together, my mum sent it to me just before we started filming. The film never saw the light of day, but I remember at the time when we first met we really connected. I’d always been a big fan of his. So when I went to audition for this and met him again it was great.

I think his script is so important. It’s vital we tell this story and I think it will resonate with a lot of people. It gives insight into a world that a lot of people think that, from the periphery, they would love to be a part of - but being inside it can be very toxic. You can get lost.

Had you met any of your fellow cast members before?
No but I saw Nina in a play, o when I met her I really fangirled! Everyone from the director, Pete, to the DOP and producers, they were amazing.