Lucy Hale Is Keen on Playing Katy in Her New Series on The CW

By Behind the Scenes in Hollywood Archives
Cover image for  article: Lucy Hale Is Keen on Playing Katy in Her New Series on The CW

Former Pretty Little Liars star Lucy Hale on Thursday returns to The CW (following the demise of 2018's underappreciated Life Sentence) to star as the title character in Katy Keene.  Set and filmed on location in New York City, Katy Keene expands the Riverdale universe, following the lives and struggles of four young people with big dreams: Designer Keene (Hale), Riverdale's own singer/songwriter Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray), performer Jorge Lopez/Ginger (Jonny Beauchamp) and New York "It Girl" Pepper Smith (Julia Chan).  For Los Angeles-based Hale, landing the coveted role of Keene meant a move to the Big Apple, something the self-described "L.A. gal" found a little daunting even though she had long dreamed of making the move.  "The people, buildings, everything about New York scares me," she laughed in a recent interview with MediaVillage.  "I am such an L.A. gal at this point.  I love the weather and everything about it.  But [at the same time] I'm excited, because working in New York City is something I had on my vision board like 10 years ago, and it's something I haven't done up until this point and to me that's incredible."

"I'm actually pinching myself," she added.  "[Although] I think the weather might be a lot for my little brittle bones.  But we'll see.  I'm excited.  I always wanted to do Broadway, so now I want to see all the shows, and I mean all the shows!  I truly don't know a soul there, but that's the great thing about New York.  You can just blend in and I'm excited to just start fresh and start doing little things I like to do."

Ardent fans of the Archie comic books will be familiar with Keene, a character who first appeared in 1945, went on to be awarded her own title, then reappeared on and off over the last 70-plus years.  While the comic book character was a model/actress/singer, through her various incarnations over the years she remained a fashion plate -- a trait that follows Katy Keene circa 2020 as she struggles to become a successful designer. 

"I see so much of myself in Katy and the struggle of being told 'no' a million times as that's my life," Hale shared.  "I still audition and get told 'no.'  That will always be a big part of who I am and my story.  I have many friends that are still struggling in the acting world, and for many years that was also me.  That's why I'm rooting for Katy because I know how it feels.

"In the pilot, Katy says she comes from no money," Hale continued.  "She'd go to a store window, look at all these amazing designers and basically knock them off.  She has amazing taste, even high-class taste, but she's always doing it on a budget.  In the pilot, for the most part everything was handmade and custom one-of-a-kind, so we want to keep doing that.  We want to re-create a lot of the comic book outfits, and a lot of the ones we did were straight from them.  The cape Katy wears in the pilot was straight out of the comic."

While Hale admitted she had yet to "tangibly hold any of the comic books," in researching the character she found herself familiar with a lot of Keene's iconic outfits, as they are firmly embedded in pop-culture.  She also had an interesting take on her personal style.  "I'm like a lululemon, is that even a style?" she laughed.  "It's very comfortable and casual and as I've gotten older it's become way more subdued.  Wearing red now is a very bold choice, and now I do it in the name of Katy."

At this point in her career, Hale is thankful to be in the position to be able to pick and choose projects that speak to her, but she's still not ready to say she's "made it," even after a seven-year run on the smash hit Pretty Little Liars.  "That's the joy of being an actor," she reflected.  "It's about the journey and it will always be a struggle as there's never job security.  I guess I knew I'd made it, or whatever you want to call it, when I didn't have to do something for a paycheck.  Lots of times in my teens and early '20s I had to do everything [that was offered] because I had to survive.

"Now I have a great job," she added in closing.  "What's great about shows like Riverdale and PLL is you get this cult following.  Some people will always want to see me as Aria (from PLL), but they're very supportive and follow me on social media.  This is a lovely world to be able to live in and it has the potential, knock on wood, of going for a while.  Katy is a character I'm comfortable saying I'd love to play for a really long time."

Katy Keeneis telecast Thursday at 8 p.m. on The CW.

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