With Paper Dolls based on an original concept by former Bardot member Belinda Chapple, it would be easy to assume that the TV series is a direct retelling of her time in the popular Australian girl group.
The eight-part drama, which is streaming exclusively on Paramount+, tells the story of five singers grouped together on a music reality television show in 1999 as they navigate the dark side of the music industry.
Despite its similarities to Bardot, who were also formed in 1999 on the reality series Popstars, the cast tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the series is “not a biopic”.
“There are elements of the show that pay ode to Bardot and that story, but it is not the Bardot story,” Emalia asserts. “You’re never going to look at these girls and be like, ‘Oh, that's that one and that's that one’. We aren’t Bardot.”
Courtney Clarke adds that while the process of becoming a pop star is something that can easily be compared, the characters in Paper Dolls are purely fictional.
“There's definitely a lot of references to the concept, the culture, the experience of what it's like to go through that reality TV lifestyle and then end up in a trajectory of things looking really different, and there's a lot of light shed that could have been similar,” she shares. “But to be honest, from our chats with Belinda it's quite different.”
“It’s also so dramatised,” Miah Madden points out. “You'll watch it and be like, ‘Oh my god, surely that couldn't be anybody's life because every character’s got a million things going on’. So I think the audience will be like, ‘Oh yeah, [Bardot] definitely didn't go through all that’.”
Courtney Monsma, who is currently starring as Glinda in the latest production of Wicked, shares that her experience in the fictional band Harlow has changed her perspective on how hard girl groups work.
“It was quite extensive really getting to the depth of these characters and getting the skills that we needed,” she says. “So I think I already had a lot of sympathy for that lifestyle, but it's all on perspective and you don't know until you're in it.”
Meanwhile, Courtney Clarke says her brief stint in Hi-5 helped her performance in Paper Dolls as she had already experienced the tough demands of a musical group.
“It’s a TV series, but we were also recording an album and we were doing choreography rehearsals and performing live, which is not super normal for TV shows,” she remarks.
“So I think that any experience that any of us had individually before walking into the job really aided even just the nerves and the comfortability of collaboration, which has probably been the biggest part of the process for us.”
Rising Australian R&B star Emalia also admits that she cried when she first read the script because of how much she resonated with her character Izzy, who previously had a solo career before joining Harlow.
“There are many elements to this show that do occur still today that I've had experiences with and that I've seen friends and people who work in the industry have those experiences,” she reveals.
“So although it is absolutely dramatised and there's a lot going on, it is a drama, there are elements that are true and that do happen and occur.”
Paper Dolls is streaming now exclusively on Paramount+
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