Make Me Famous

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

Interview with Tilly Keeper

What do I hope audiences will take away from the film? It’s that message - think of others. Just because you can’t say it to someone’s face, it doesn’t mean that you have the right to say it on social media.Tilly Keeper
Date: 09.06.2020     Last updated: 09.06.2020 at 18.38
Category: BBC Three; Drama
Tilly Keeper plays Helen in Make Me Famous.

What did you think when you read the script?
The script was entertaining yet topical - social media and trolling features throughout - and I know there are people out there now trying to get laws changed in order to help with this. It’s a really exciting project, especially with Reggie’s name attached to it. I knew I wanted to be part of it.

Did you speak to Reggie about the script?
I hadn’t met him before the audition. We spoke after the read-through as I know he wanted to be cautious about my character. He didn’t want her to come across as two-dimensional or stereotypical. He didn’t want Helen to be the villain of the piece. Helen’s journey mirrors Billy’s, in that he’s trying to do what he’s got to do in order to survive in the industry and she’s doing the same. We discussed the intricacies of trying to find the humanity within the character.

Who is Helen? Tell us about your character.
I’d say Helen is very business minded. Helen is a young girl who has just come out of the same reality show that Billy was on - but she’s from the current series (Billy is from the previous year). Helen is attending a PA in a club and meets Billy, who catches her eye. Although it’s possible she’s already mediated this meeting... she’s quite driven. I’d say she’s a little bit cut-throat.

What do you hope audiences will take away from the film?
It’s that message - think of others. Just because you can’t say it to someone’s face, it doesn’t mean that you have the right to say it on social media. There is a person behind the screen reading those messages. Sometimes when you see interviews with trolls they say they never thought the person would never see the message. But how can you think that? You are sending it to a person. You are a person, you have a social media account and so does the person you are sending abuse to. You wouldn’t say that to someone on the street.

Hopefully we’ll all take away from this an awareness that we are all human. The day I went on to set someone had actually sent me a horrible message on Instagram, and then later they messaged me again saying “sorry about that, I was just having a moment”. But why did they say it in the first place? They retracted it so quickly. If you’re having a bad day, don’t take it out on me!

Do you watch reality TV?
I don’t watch loads of it. I do keep up with pop culture and watch some of the shows, but I binge TV, so if I watched all of them I wouldn’t have time to leave the house!

But reality TV is enjoyable to people - it’s relatable. There might be a young girl from your area who joins a reality show and you think, oh my god, I’m just like her! or, she fancies the guy I think is cute on the show! It’s usually in an idyllic setting and they have no responsibilities. It’s escapism. But unfortunately we do have to remember, like with the internet, they are actual human beings. It’s strange - it’s those dreaded words, ‘game plan’. If you hear it on a reality show, you think you’re not going to like them – but if you do have a game plan and you know what you want to get out of it, then reality TV can be the perfect platform to craft your future career.

But sometimes people are sold the dream and it doesn’t always work out.