AS THE WORLD TURNS' Kelley Menighan Hensley (Emily) is starring in a very unique new series for Showtime called REALITY SHOW. The catch? It's not actually a reality series, but a scripted half-hour drama poking satirical fun at how manufactured many reality shows are!
"It is insane," she says of the series. "That is the perfect word for it. It's out there. I mean, I called my parents when I agreed to do it and I'm like, 'I'm just preparing you that.. I'm not a hundred percent sure I want you to see all of it!'"
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"So instead of the producers saying, 'Okay, these people are really boring, let's move on,'" she continues, "[the producer] says, 'No, let's just throw in some conflict to screw with them.' And slowly but surely, they sabotage our family. Ultimately... really bad things start to happen which ultimately pulls our family apart in such a sick, dark... twisted way."
Although the more scandalous material allowed on a pay cable channel like Showtime gave her pause initially, Hensley quickly realized she'd be a fool to pass up the opportunity. "It's off-the-wall and dark and risque and all of those things that daytime isn't," she laughs. "And really, that's why I was so drawn to it."
She was also more than happy when she was told that they wanted her for the part, but didn't want her to look anything like herself, costuming her in a mousy brown wig, ugly glasses and mom clothes. "They said, 'Are you cool with that?'" Hensley recalls. "And I was like, 'What?! Of course! I've been living in a daytime bubble of overdone hair and makeup no offense to hair and makeup for years, so this is perfect for me."
Shooting a series that is meant to be taped with hidden cameras meant actually performing for tiny little cameras called Go Pros that were strategically placed around the set. But that's not to say there wasn't a crew! "No, sometimes they would strategically place themselves," Hensley confides. "I can think off the top of my head, the director and the DP were both sitting on a fireplace mantle tucked away from the other cameras. They would do things like that all the time!"
REALITY SHOW is eight half-hour episodes, cutting between the producers' scheming and the family's lives unraveling, and the family portion of the show was actually recut into a 90-minute film for submission in the Sundance Film Festival! Also, because the two sections were shot separately, Hensley is looking forward to seeing the material she wasn't in. "It really was an unbelievable experience," she exclaims. "It was so much fun. You would walk away at the end of the day and go, 'Really? That was work? Because that was so much fun!'"
REALITY SHOW premieres tonight, November 1, on Showtime at 11:30 pm EST.