Jude Demorest has been on television before, but she has never had a role like Star Davis on Lee Daniels’ new Fox series Star. The 24-year-old Demorest plays a determined foster child who desperately wants to make it big in the Atlanta music scene, no matter what.
Demorest is also a different kind of lead star for a Daniels project. She is white, in a show mostly populated by black actresses like Queen Latifah and Ryan Destiny. Race relations is a theme woven into the show and made clear right from the start in the pilot.
Demorest is married to songwriter/producer Ammo, who was born Joshua Coleman.
Star debuts on Fox at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, December 14. Here’s a look at Demorest and the character she plays.
1. Daniels Said He Cast a White Actress in the Leading Role Because ‘I Thought the Country Needed to Heal’
When Daniels was on The Real to promote Star on December 6, Daniels explained why he decided to chose a white actress to play the lead role in his girl group drama.
“In the beginning, [the show] is told through a white girl’s perspective because I felt that the country, instinctively, I though needed to heal,” Daniels said on the show. “And I think that this white girl is so fabulous that I think black people will embrace her and I think white people will embrace her.”
Daniels said that Star does have a half-black sister, Simone, played by Brittany O’Grady. The two sisters were separated and placed in the foster care system. Star tries to escape the system and reunites with her sister before going to Atlanta.
When asked why he made the group multi-cultural, Daniels said he felt it was a way to address race relations in America because he thinks the country is in a “civil war.”
“I think that when we understand that we’re all one… that we will then understand America. And America is still to be understood by us,” Daniels said on The Real.
2. Demorest Had to Audition at Least 10 Times Before Daniels Finally Cast Her in the Role
Demorest didn’t just walk into Danlies’ office and just get the role on the spot. It was hard work, with at least 10 auditions. In each, she had to do different things and even worked with Beyonce‘s choreographer, Frank Gaston.
“After those 10 auditions, it was a Friday and I’d been there a million times, but they called me and asked if I could come in and I said, ‘Sure!'” Demorest recalled in an interview with Collider. “At that point, I had been called in so many times that I stopped saying yes to any other auditions and just waited for them to call me every day ‘cause that’s what was happening. So, I went in and thought it was going to be another audition, but instead, it was just Lee in his office. He said, “Hey Jude, I just wanted to sit with you, one-on-one, spirit to spirit.” That was a trick because I really thought that meant something good.”
Demorest told Collider that Daniels told her that she wasn’t the girl for the role and she began crying. She went home in tears that day, but she later realized that Daniels did this because he didn’t think he could have found the right actress on the first day of auditions.
In that same interview with Collider, Demorest said that Daniels gave her research to do, which included watching Valley of the Dolls, Girlhood, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and Female Trouble. “It was real homework,” she told the site.
Demorest also told the New York Post that she auditioned for Empire.
“Oh, yeah, because I auditioned for the show,” she told the Post. “I auditioned for the role of Hakeem’s girlfriend that ended up being Spanish-speaking. I went in and I sang in Spanish. I do not speak Spanish. The casting director said, ‘You don’t speak Spanish, do you?'”
3. Demorest Is a Detroit Native Who Learned to Sing in Church
In the first episode of Star, Star finds her godmother, Carlotta (Queen Latifah) singing in church. It’s a familiar scene to Demorest, who grew up in Detroit. She told Vanity Fair that her musical training all came from church.
“I grew up in church, seven days a week,” she told the magazine. “The service was very music-driven, so the pastor created a performing-arts school down the street. There was drama, dance, and choir rehearsal—it was my training.”
According to WJBK in Detroit, Demorest was known as Claire Demorest at Winans Academy of Performing Arts. “She just always had so much personality and she just wanted the stage,” Pastor Marvin Winans of Perfecting Church told the station.
Winans told WJBK that Demorest studied at the academy between the ages of 10 and 15. When she turned 16, she moved to California.
4. Demorest Has a Contract With L.A. Reid & Co-Wrote the Fifth Harmony Hit ‘Work From Home’
When Demorest turned 16 years old, she moved to Los Angeles to start her music career, working as a backup dancer and singer. She was eventually signed to L.A. Reid’s Epic Records. “I learned about the whole music industry from him,” the actress told Vanity Fair.
Demorest co-wrote the song “Work From Home,” which turned into a hit for Fifth Harmony. “I write whenever I’m not on set,” she told Vanity Fair.
After being cast in Star, Deadline confirmed that she signed with Creative Artists Agency. She is managed by Gilbertson Entertainment.
5. Demorest Is Married to Producer Ammo, Who Co-Wrote ‘Work From Home’
Joshua Coleman, the music producer and songwriter best known as Ammo, is one of the co-writers credited on “Work From Home.” He also revealed in a March 2016 interview with Songwriter Universe that he was engaged to Demorest. They are now married.
“It’s fun, because I actually got to write the song with a group of my friends, which was really cool, including my fiance Jude Demorest,” Coleman told Songwriter Universe when asked how “Work From Home” was written. “She’s one of the writers on this song as well…she’s really good.”
In the interview, Coleman credited Demorest and co-writer Explicit with coming up with the title.
Coleman’s resume also includes collaborations with R. Kelly, Maroon 5, Beyonce and Sean Paul. He co-wrote Maroon 5’s hit “Sugar” and Selena Gomez’s “I Like It That Way.”
Demorest has shared photos of herself with Coleman on her Instagram page.