LOS ANGELES (KGET) — You have to be a devoted comic book reader – especially the lesser known titles in the Archie Comics series – to know the central figure of the new CW Network series “Katy Keene.” If you are looking for something new to watch, now is the time to get caught up with both the program and the comic book character.
Lucy Hale – who spent years dealing with big mysteries in the series “Pretty Little Liars” – plays the fashion legend-to-be Katy Keene. She’s an optimistic and energetic twentysomething New Yorker who wants to be a designer. Her life is a mix of working as a personal shopper at a luxury department store and trying to deal with the ups and downs of friendship and dating in the big city.
The series is giving Hale a more heightened reality to play as the show is being called “a high-fashion fairytale” but she doesn’t want to go too far and try to keep the character grounded as much as she can.
“What I’m excited about with ‘Katy Keene’ is we’ve created this really amazing, beautiful, optimistic world,” Hale says. “But, we are going to see the struggling of trying to make it in New York. I think that we’re definitely going to explore the struggle of life in general as well.”
It’s not only Keene who is dealing with life. She’s surrounded by others dealing with similar – and very different – problems that include: singer/songwriter Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray); performer Jorge Lopez/Ginger (Jonny Beauchamp); and “It Girl” Pepper Smith (Julia Chan). She also has the support of her longtime boyfriend, KO Kelly (Zane Holtz), who has his own dream of becoming a professional boxer.
Most of the time, Keene is designing clothes for her friends. The connection to fashion dates back to the original comic book character created by Bill Woggon in 1945. She has been a model/actress/singer marketed as “America’s Queen of Pin-Ups and Fashions.” Drawings of outfits submitted by readers were often used in the comic books.
The most difficult part of playing Katy Keene for Hale is that she came to the role with only a basic knowledge of how to sew. She took several lessons to make it look like Keene is an amazing seamstress.
The easiest part about playing Keene for Hale is showing what it looks like when a young person leaves the safety of home to move to a major city. Hale was only 15 when she packed her bags and moved from Memphis to Los Angeles in search of a record deal.
She calls the move a complete culture shock.
“Part of what drew me to this script is that I saw myself in Katy. Katy is struggling to make her dreams come true,” Hale says. “It’s always a struggle for us. I feel like. It never ends, but it reminded me a lot of my mom and I. We packed up her Prius. We moved to L.A. only planning to stay the pilot season, but I’ve been here 15 years now.
“It was scary. I think I was so naive. I had no idea what this job entailed or what it would be like. I hadn’t the Internet wasn’t really a thing then. Social media wasn’t big then. So I didn’t anything about it. We just kind of dove right in.”
What delayed her was a small role on the series “Drake & Josh” that set her on an acting course. Since then she has starred in such TV series and films as “Life Sentence,” “Fantasy Island,” “Scream 4,” “Truth or Dare” and “The Hating Game.”
“Katy Keene” is giving Hale the opportunity to portray a character closer to her own age. The very young looking 30-year-old played a teenager for years while starring on “Pretty Little Liars.”
But, at the end of the day, only one thing mattered to Hale.
“It’s always if the script speaks to me or the character speaks to me. Immediately, I read this script, and I was, like, ‘I have to be here. I have to live in this world. I have to help bring this to life.’ And she just happened to be younger again, which is fine. I don’t mind it,” Keen says.
“Katy Keene,” a spinoff of the CW Network series “Riverdale,” airs 8 p.m. Thursdays. Don’t worry about jumping into the series at this point as every episode is available to stream on CWTV.com and The CW App. The March 26 episode – titled “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) – is the eight in the first season.