Interviews

Pepi Sonuga – Famous in Love

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By: Paige Zinaman

 

Q) What are some of the recent projects you’re working on?

A: Well, I just I just wrapped up a movie with Andrew Garfield called Under the Silver Lake and that’s pretty much it really. I also did a short with Keith Powers who is also on “Famous In Love” and now we are trying to get funding for that to make it a full length feature. So, that’s what I’m kind of focusing on behind the scenes right now.

Q) Please tell us the premise for “Famous in Love” and about your character.

A: So, “Famous In Love” is about a girl named Paige Townsen played by Bella Thorne who is a regular college student and she happens to go an audition for a huge film kind of like Twilight or like the Harry Potter series and she books the job! She books the job over every hot Hollywood actresses and she’s thrust into the spotlight and she’s thrust into this world of Hollywood. Where I come in is there are a couple of already famous kids like Keith Powers, Niki Koss and Carter Jenkins. All these characters who are already in Hollywood who are actors and singers and she basically just has to deal with all of them. Because when you’re the new girl in town people hate you, people are curious about you and people love you so each of us has kind of a stake in this Paige Townsen girl and that’s how it all unravels. My character’s name is Tangey Turner- she’s a popstar. She’s been in the industry forever so in our real world she would be like a child star I suppose. Her singing career is at the height of its peak right now, but she has some internal things she has to deal with in her career as well as her personal life and we are going to get to see her find herself through soul searching and also find her voice and who and what she wants to stand for.

Q) Was there anything you added to the role that wasn’t originally scripted for you?

A: Hmm. (laughs) EVERYTHING! When the role was—when I got this role she’s not even in the pilot because the storyline they had for her in the pilot got scratched. So, she’s completely different from whatever the audition was. Even when I got the audition, I kid you not the scene was like one scene and a few lines so they didn’t even know who this girl was. I sort of just came in with a huge fur coat, curly hair, make-up and heels and I just sort of created her. They’ve given me a lot of leverage to do that so I would say Tangey on paper is all Freeform and “Famous In Love,” but what you see is kind of all me.

Q) What did you find challenging about the role?

 

A: What I found challenging about my character was the situation that she sort of finds herself in. I feel like a lot of the time all of things were happening to her and out of her control and I really, really struggled with letting that happen because in my real life I’m completely opposite. I’m every proactive in my life so I found myself asking a lot of questions like “Why would I do that? I wouldn’t do that.” So, the struggle was trying to find the balance of who I am and who Tangey is.

 

Q) What was it like working with Bella Thorne?

 

A: Bella’s amazing. Bella’s awesome, I always talk about how great it is that she was a child star because none of are on the show. So, she has this sort of —the whole cast has rose colored glasses on and we are all like little kids in a play pin going, “Oh my god! Oh my god! That’s cool! That’s cool!” and Bella is like, “Okay guys that’s cool, but just calm down a little bit.” She sort of just walks us through it and I just generally feel safer just having her around because she’s someone who has our back and knows how to navigate this wild beast of a show industry we are in.

 

Q) What were some of your most memorable moments from filming “Famous In Love?”

 

A: The memorable moments would be just hanging out with my cast honestly because we are such a huge ensemble it’s always different scenes to shoot because of different storylines so Bella and her two best friends shoot a lot or Keith and I shoot a lot or Nikki and I shoot a lot. So, it’s always most likely there is one group on set and the other group is always kind of hanging out so those are the moments that I love the most just being on set with them. You know when you’re working as an actor it can be really long hours and it can be really draining, but this is honestly the first show I’ve ever worked on that even after the call wrap I almost don’t want to go home because I’m already hanging out with my friends.

 

Q) How is “Famous in Love” different than any other Freeform show?

A: “Famous in Love” is different from ANY show! (laughs) It is glitzy and glamorous. I was a teenager who was obsessed with “Gossip Girl,” “90210” and “Pretty Little Liars” and all of that. So, I know that if I was still that girl “Famous In Love” is literally everything I’ve ever dreamed up in one setting. They are young, driven, great people, great character who are also famous. The fact that they are famous just makes it more fun because we get to dress nice and get great hair and make-up. It’s just a fun show, but it also has that soapiness to it, which has a lot of drama. Honestly, there’s nothing like it on TV we’ve just a huge melting pot. It’s so diverse! It’s so incredibly diverse. I’m so proud to be a part of this cast and I’m so proud of Freeform for representing America that way that it is with this show.

 

Q) Will the show stick close to the book or how will they differ?

 

A: It is close to the book. I would say you should probably read the book before it airs because it’s just nice to have a full idea of the story. But it is very different from the book. The book is kind of young adult where ours is like turn up the heat a little bit. It’s very sexy and very racy it’s definitely not cookie cutter. We pushed a lot of boundaries and the storylines also change. Fr example, like I told you, my character is completely different from what the creators even imagine so she’s nothing like she is in the book at all. That’s why I think it’s also important to read the book to see how far of an arc we’ve come from the production of the series to where it actually ended up.

 

Q) You are a part of social media. Are you looking forward to the instant fan feedback you will receive to the series?

A: (laughs) It’s a little scary because I’m a part of social media, but I’ve always prided myself on being like aloof like, “Oh well I haven’t seen them but I don’t care so much anyway.” But now it’s sort of my job I have to care about these things. I will say that even though the show hasn’t aired we have the greatest fans, they are so friendly and so interactive and they talk to us they are real people. I sort of feared that the internet was just these box that you don’t even look at  photos on Twitter, but these are real people and they are really connecting to me and our story so I’m really just excited to make new friends on the internet and connect with fans.

 

Q) Is there anything you want to say to fans and supporters?

A: I want to say thank you so much. I don’t know what’s going to happen in a month when the show airs we just have to leave it up to the universe, but from the bottom of my heart you guys are making this experience so much more exciting for me. At first it was something my cast and I love to talk about but now there’s this whole fandom that’s growing that’s a part of this with us. You guys make this so exciting for me and I read every tweet and every Instagram but I still try to be aloof and cool online, but I still see all of it.

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