What really goes on behind the scenes of reality series like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette? Well, Lifetime’s new series UnREAL may give you a glimpse of what does happen behind the scenes and how contestants deal with being on these reality shows.
UnREAL will premiere on Lifetime Monday, June 1st at 10/9c. One of the stars of the provocative new series is actress Ashley Scott.
Ashley has built an impressive resume of credits in both film and television. She starred in series such as Jericho, Dark Angel and the cult classic Birds of Prey. On the big screen, she’s worked opposite Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the film Walking Tall and has also appeared in the films Into the Blue, Just Friends and 12 Rounds.
Today we sit down with the Louisiana born actress to talk about her new series, what she thinks about reality television as a whole and will watching her new series change people’s attitudes towards reality television.
Pop Culture Principle – Can you tell us the basic premise for UnREAL?
Ashley Scott – UnREAL is a show that has a backdrop of reality television which is such a massive market right now. Reality television is just everywhere and people are really connecting with it. We made a show that is using that as a backdrop and you get to see how the contestants come on the show and what their journey is and why they are there. You get to see what the role of the network is with these types of shows and you get to watch the characters develop and watch their wild journey through the competition.
Pop Culture Principle – Can you tell us about your character Mary?
Ashley Scott – Mary is awesome. She is a single mom who is older than the other girls. She’s 37 while most of the contestants are in the 20s. She is really going out on a limb and is at a time in her life where she feels she can take that leap. She’s feeling strong, healthy and really looking for love. I don’t know how much I can say about where my character goes, but I can say it has been the most exciting, emotional rollercoaster of a character I have ever played. It’s been really incredible playing her for many reasons.
Pop Culture Principle – You’ve never done a series like this before, is that one of the things that attracted you to the project?
Ashley Scott – You are right; I’ve never done anything like this before. It’s gritty, dark, sexy and provocative. I don’t know if I want my mom and stepdad watching it though because it is so gritty! My husband has been able to watch some of the clips and he can’t wait and is really excited about the show as well.
Pop Culture Principle – What sort of preparation if any did you do for this role?
Ashley Scott – You know, because I am playing a contestant on the show, I wanted to bring the element of surprise. I’m not a huge reality television fan like so many people are. I have a theory about reality television and that is I think human nature just desires human connection so badly. We use to live in a time where we could leave our doors open and swing into our neighbor’s house. We were hip to all the gossip on the street and we were all connected in such a communal way.
I think we are craving that human connection and we are finding it through reality television and I think that is kind of wonderful. I have different feelings about reality television but I think it’s kind of sweet that human nature is just trying to connect. So, I didn’t really do any sort of research when it came to watching other shows because I wanted Mary’s experience to be Mary’s experience. It’s not about other people’s characters, it’s about her own.
Pop Culture Principle – How close is the series to what actually goes on behind the scenes for a reality series?
Ashley Scott – Apparently pretty darn close which is disheartening and also exciting and great for dramatic television. I think the world is kind of hip to the scene and the people that watch reality television understand the all of it might not be so real. It is entertainment and it’s kind of a relief for someone like me because if you watch some of them, you hope they aren’t real.
Pop Culture Principle – With all the drama you see when watching these types of shows, why do you think they still attract men and women to take part?
Ashley Scott – I think it’s because they want that connection. I think we want to not feel alone in this world or feel like you aren’t that bad. Our nature is just to connect and want to be a part of something. If you can turn your television on and you have six kids and you can watch a family that has 21 kids and you see the craziness that goes on in their house and what they have to deal with, it can make you feel better about yourself and your situation.
Pop Culture Principle – After watching UnREAL, will this change the way people watch reality series?
Ashley Scott – I think for some it may. I think our viewers are intelligent people and realize that after 20 years of watching reality television, I think they are starting to see the same thing and starting to realize that it may be a little finessed, so I don’t think that will be a surprise.
I am gullible and like to believe what people are telling me, so it might be a little hurtful to see some of the tricks, but intriguing at the same time. It’s like loving magic and wanting to see a magic show but then learning the trick of the magic which is also very intriguing, exciting and empowering.
Pop Culture Principle – What do you think about the producers on these types of shows who manipulate situations with contestants?
Ashley Scott – I am a very honest human being and always believe in goodness. I always say, “feed the love, don’t feed the darkness.” I think that is what’s beautiful about our show is that Shiri Appleby’s character and Constance’s character both struggle tremendously with the duality of doing what’s right in their heart and what is right for business. I think everyone, not just in the entertainment business, struggles with that in their lives. Do I agree with it? Absolutely not, but that is one of the reasons I was excited about doing the show.
Pop Culture Principle – Do you think there has ever been a reality series that has gone too far?
Ashley Scott – Yes, of course, but again it’s hard because you have to look at it as either reality is reality and you are going into these real people’s lives and toying with it and their children’s destinies or you are going into a fictional world that is totally created.
It also depends on the parents and who is really running the show. Personally, I wouldn’t choose that for my daughter and no one would come into my home and make a choice for my daughter-I would. If these parents choose to do it, then educate your kid and let them know that it is fictional.
Pop Culture Principle – What can viewers look forward to with the first season of UnREAL?
Ashley Scott – The show is just exciting and we would make jokes at how beautiful everyone is on the show. It’s so much fun and our writers were so edgy with our dialogue. I am very picky and I am excited to watch the series. I think the show found a safe home at Lifetime and they have allowed us to really be free and write what they wanted to write unapologetically; plus they have trusted the creators.
We would like to thank Ashley Scott for sitting down and talking with us about her new show. Remember, the series premiere of UnREAL will air on Lifetime Monday, June 1st at 10/9c. If you would like to keep up with all of Ashley’s latest news and projects, you can visit her official website here and you can also follow her on Twitter here.
**Photos courtesy of Lifetime**