In a case of art imitating life, new Aussie drama Paper Dolls was inspired by singer Belinda Chapple’s roller-coaster ride after winning 1999 reality TV show Popstars with the girl group Bardot.
Paper Dolls follows the stories of five aspiring young female singers in the as they navigate the dark side of a glamorous industry.
Actress Courtney Clarke drew her inspiration from US music icon Beyoncé when preparing for her role as Jade, a member of the manufactured all-girl group HARLOW.
“I heard this story about Beyoncé’s dad telling her if she wanted to be successful, she needed to run on the treadmill every day while singing all her arpeggios,” Courtney, 25, tells TV WEEK.
“So, when I booked the job, I went home to the mountains where I grew up and I was on the treadmill singing arpeggios – it definitely kept me in shape.”
Co-star Thomas Cocquerel, who plays HARLOW’s drug-addicted manager Teddy, says Paper Dolls wants to show how talent could be manoeuvered in the music industry in the 1990s, when the show is set.
“It can be difficult to be an artist in a business that doesn’t really care about art,” Thomas, 34, explains. “Sometimes they just care about the money, and people can be exploited.”
Being actors, Courtney (Last King Of The Cross) and Thomas (The Gilded Age), have some insight into how their characters worked, having experienced or heard of similar scenarios throughout their careers.
Thankfully, that wasn’t the case on the set of Paper Dolls.
“Overseas, there’s a machine that can take you for a ride,” Thomas says. “You can feel like a number on set instead of an artist, and feel lost in these big productions with massive budgets. One of the best things about working at home [in Australia] is that you feel like you’re taken care of and valued.”