Many of us know at least one non-Black person who loves African-American culture so much that he or she emulates our gestures, figures of speech and style. But when this happens, is this the highest form of flattery or blatant cultural appropriation?
You be the judge when this and other themes are explored on the new Lee Daniels’ drama Star, which premieres Wednesday Dec. 14 after the fall finale of Empire on FOX.
Soapy, sexy and jam-packed with big names such as Queen Latifah, Lenny Kravitz, Benjamin Bratt, Naomi Campbell, Tyrese, Gladys Knight and Miss Lawrence of Real Housewives of Atlanta fame, the melodrama introduces viewers to a music industry full of ambition, disappointment and deceit.
Jude Demorest headlines the series as Star, a musically talented but troubled white foster teenager who grows up in a Black community. In an attempt to make a better life for herself and her half sister Simone (Brittany O’Grady), who is biracial, Star does whatever she has to do to start a girl group.
Alexandra (Ryan Destiny) ends up completing the trio when all three move to Atlanta. But unbeknownst to Star and Simone, Alexandra is the rich and spoiled daughter of a rock star named Roland Crane (Kravitz).
Sounds like a lot to process? It is but Daniels works overtime to make his latest drama hit all the right notes. Here are five reasons to watch Star:
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The cast: In addition to giving Demorest, O’Grady and Destiny their first shots at fame, Daniels is taking a chance on transgender model Amiyah Scott, who costars as Cotton, a beauty shop receptionist and Star’s friend. Meanwhile, Al B. Sure’s son Quincy Brown (Dope) costars as Alexandra’s love interest Derek.
The music: Songs like “I Can Be” will have you bobbing your head and rushing to iTunes. This is in large part because Demorest, who has an undeniable Tori Kelly vibe, has a great voice.
The inspirations: But Kelly isn’t the only inspiration behind Star. There’s a taste of Destiny’s Child with a few dabs of Diana Ross and the Supremes. Queen Latifah stars as Carlotta, a wig loving, Bible thumping ex-singer, who knew Star and Simone’s mom before she died of a drug overdose. Carlotta’s religious beliefs and influences are reminiscent of the movie Sparkle.
The twists: This is a Daniels’ project so there is murder and mystery and a whole bunch of wildness fans should appreciate. Alexandra’s hidden identity offers another twist as does Cotton’s relationship with Carlotta and Carlotta’s relationship with Jahil Rivera (Bratt). He’s a music producer who wants to make Star and her group the next big thing.
The timing: If you’re wondering why Daniels chose Demorest to be his drama’s leading lady, it wasn’t just her musical talent. “In the beginning, it is told through a white girl’s perspective because I felt that the country instinctively needed to heal,” Daniels recently said on the talk show The Real. “I think that this white girl is so fabulous that Black people will embrace her and white people will embrace her.”
We shall see.
Star premieres Wednesday Dec. 14 at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.