Freeform's latest teen drama series, Famous in Love, follows a formula that anyone familiar with Cinderella will recognize. Paige Townsen (Bella Thorne) is a college student with nary a blip on her acting résumé. On a whim, she goes to an open casting call to star in the film adaptation of a major franchise. And then, she gets the call — you know the one. It turns out that Paige has been cast as the lead in the movie. She’s a nobody no longer. Plunged into the drama and intrigue of Hollywood, Paige will realize fame is more than she bargained for (and probably a bit more fun, too).
Paige’s Hollywood success story follows the rags-to-riches trope many of us are already familiar with. That's because this rapid rise to Hollywood stardom has happened in real life — and to stars you know and love.
When Rosario Dawson was 15, she was sitting on an apartment building stoop and caught the eye of filmmaker Larry Clark and screenwriter Harmony Korine, who cast her in the movie Kids. Harrison Ford got the part of Han Solo after he was hired to install at door at George Lucas’ film studio and impressed the Star Wars director. And, in an instance straight from a novel, Charlize Theron was arguing with a bank teller when an agent intervened and offered to represent her.
All of these individuals skyrocketed to fame through chance encounters, lucky breaks, and good impressions. Given their stories, it's not all too unlikely for Paige Townsen to be modeled off a real actress.
So, is Paige Townsen based on one of the many stars who got their big breaks on a cold call?
The short answer is no, she’s not. She’s just the stuff of dreams — and YA literature. Paige is actually based on a character in a YA series called Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle. First published in 2014, the books follow Paige’s string of romantic dalliances, flings, and love triangles.
While Paige's character may not be derived from a real person, Bella Thorne thinks the show depicts fame in an accurate way.
"It's pretty accurate, I would say. If anything does not seem real, we definitely take it out and make sure it reflects what we have been through and what we go through in this industry," Thorne told NBC Out in an interview.
So, while watching Paige's adventures in Famous in Love, here’s permission picture a young Charlize, perched on the cusp of massive stardom, arguing with someone in a bank.