Slowly but surely, Star, a spin-off of the juggernaut Fox series Empire, is becoming a force with which to reckon. Also from Lee Daniels, Star follows three talented singers (played by Jude Demorest, Ryan Destiny and Brittany O’Grady) as they navigate the cutthroat music business on their road to success. The show also stars Queen Latifah, Brandy, Amiyah Scott, Miss Lawrence, Luke James and Quincy Brown.
O’Grady plays the youngest of the group, Simone Davis, an 18-year-old former foster kid desperate for a new start. Thrust into the system when her mother died, Simone was separated from her half-sister and fellow group member, Star (Demorest).
Simone spent most of the first season in rehab while the group worked to achieve success. In the second season, she came into her own both personally and professionally.
Now, in the show’s third season, both O’Grady and her character are primed to take center stage for Star’s junior year.
O’Grady spoke with Shadow and Act about Simone, working with Hollywood heavyweights and releasing music outside of the show.
[caption id="attachment_308096" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Queen Latifah as Carlotta Brown, Ryan Destiny as Alex Crane, Jude Demorest as Star Davis, and Brittany O'Grady as Simone Davis in Season Three of STAR. ©2018 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Warwick Saint/FOX[/caption]
S&A: Your character, Simone, is going through many changes on the show right now. How would you describe this moment in her life?
BO: Simone is going through a period where she is really trying to figure out who she is. This season, it is definitely coming with a wham. She’s finding who she is and finding herself. She’s being actively independent of her sister and creating relationships with people based on how she feels supported. I think that’s really important for her, especially with her past. This was a slow transition in the second season, but in this third season, we’re going to witness Simone find her sense of self and even some professional success. I think that a lot of people are seeing her as more mature. She’s 18 years old. I’ve also grown up. I booked the show when I was 19, and now, I’m a 22-year-old woman. That visual change is one of the biggest ones, so the jump she made is one that I’m excited about.
S&A: What’s your favorite thing about playing Simone?
BO: I love portraying Simone. I’ve learned so much through her. I’ve been growing up just in the way that she is and growing into my womanhood just like her. Simone’s storyline has taught me a lot of different things. A person is not a victim based on their circumstances. I’ve learned that Simone has an open heart. She loves who she is, and I hope I do justice for young women who feel romantically interested in women and me. I love just being able to explore a different life that I’ve never had. My life is very different than Simone’s. I feel that I’m able to live life through a different lens, and it’s something I’m so grateful for. What the writers have created and what I’m able to create in my mind is what this girl is becoming, and I’m happy about that.
S&A: This is your first major role on television, and already, you’ve had the chance to work with industry veterans like Queen Latifah, Benjamin Bratt and Brandy. What is that experience like?
BO: You know, I’ve had such a great experience with everyone, and I had to step back and realize how genuine everyone is, and that is really awesome. When I’m at work, I try to stay professional and try to create relationships with those who are big names in ways that I hope could be different as an actor, as a person and then as a friend. It’s great to look up to people that have a world of experiences that I’ve never had before. And this is just the beginning, and I’m so grateful for their kindness. I see them as mentors, and that’s a really cool thing to say. I think, at first, you get a little starstruck, but I’m good at keeping that in my back pocket.
S&A: Star has one of the biggest followings on social media for a broadcast network television series. You all as a cast are great at showing your relationships off and onscreen. How is it working with the others?
BO: We all are really close, and we’ve been through so much together. We spend 15 hours a day together. We constantly laugh. We have inside jokes. We do become a family, especially Ryan, Amiyah and me; we went through the audition process together. We are grateful for each other and our crew. We’re really a big family, and my favorite part about this show is being able to work with these people and the bonds I’ve created. Not just the girls and me, but even the guys; they’re kind of like big brothers in a way. I’m kind of the baby of the cast, but we all just really have a great time.
S&A: Singing and performing is a key component of Star. Do you see yourself having a singing career outside of the show?
BO: I love to sing. I never envisioned myself being an artist in that sort of form, but I do love singing. I grew up watching Julie Andrews and Judy Garland and all of the singers from back in the day that had an acting career and singing career. I love performers, and I’d say that I’m a performer. My background is musical theatre, so this show has been a good experience. There could be an opportunity if I wanted to express myself as an artist now, and that’s a door that’s open that I never thought would be. Maybe one day! I’d love to sing at the Kennedy Center or sing a Christmas song on an album. Lady Gaga is really cool in the sense that she has a music career, but she's a performer. Like Eartha Kitt...a career like that. I’d love to emulate that.
Star airs Wednesday nights on Fox.