ERIN & SARA FOSTER

ERIN & SARA FOSTER

FADE IN:

INT. ERIN FOSTER’S HOME, BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA — LATE MORNING

ERIN and SARA FOSTER sit on either end of an oversized sofa in ERIN’s living room, their iPhones within reach on the cushions beneath them. SARA reclines, resting on a plush pillow behind her. ERIN follows suit, stretching her bare legs out in front of her. The sisters lay cozily, facing one another.

SARA
It’s so strange, given our relationship now, that we weren’t very close growing up. Not because we didn’t get along; more so because I was a weird kid.

ERIN
You were independent. You didn’t really want siblings, or to hang out —

SARA
I wanted to be an only child —

ERIN
And all I wanted was to be close with my sister! I’d always try to hang out with you, and you’d always try to get away from me. And then, as teenagers, we were just very different people. I was uncomfortable in my own skin, kind of awkward, and sort of scared of everything.

SARA
You were innocent.

ERIN
And you wanted to be out and —

SARA
Well, I wanted to be older — I was always trying to be five years older. And now I’d do anything to be five years younger [ERIN laughs]! I’m in my 30s; when I was in my 20s, I took myself so seriously. I thought I could do anything. Cool, pretty, invincible… I had a very —

ERIN
Healthy ego [laughs]

SARA
I had a very warped sense of reality, to be honest.

ERIN
I remember mom saying, ‘It’s okay. You want to peak at 30, and you can only get there if you go through these phases.’ Eventually, you realize the more you try to get people to take you seriously, the more desperate your attempts appear. I think we both got to a place where something had to give.

SARA
An inflated ego is one of the most unattractive qualities someone can have. It is not the same thing as self-esteem. A lot of what our show, Barely Famous, does is poke fun at people who take themselves too seriously. It’s hard not to get sucked into this notion of ‘if I post the right pictures, or sell myself in the right way, then people will start paying attention.’ Having an audience is considered success these days, but there are a lot of ‘famous’ people who I don’t consider successful.

ERIN
Fame and success are no longer one in the same. ‘Famous’ means nothing today. You can post one bikini selfie on Instagram and people know your name. As we got older, more and more of our family members got into reality television, and we never wanted to be a part of it. It became a running joke that while most people in Los Angeles were trying to get a reality show, we were trying our hardest not to be on one.

SARA
The goal now is to get famous first, and figure out what your real job will be later. It’s insane. Social media has made it possible for people who have no business being in the public eye to still find a way to get noticed. I’m proud to say I have never altered one picture of myself — not even photoshopped a zit — aside from using a filter.

ERIN
I’ll put a filter on a filter on a filter.

SARA
I’m always fascinated by the people who watch reality shows, see these ‘celebrity’ types, and think that it’s all real. That’s another huge part of our show: exposing the smoke and mirrors used by people who are just trying to be famous. Paparazzi aren’t following them to a gas station; they’re being tipped off, by the ‘celebrities’ themselves, to meet them there. It’s all about creating an illusion to make these men or women seem more important than they actually are.

ERIN
And it works, because audiences buy into it. Open a magazine and you’ll see a picture of a woman doing yoga on the beach, in full hair and makeup. People think, ‘Why don’t I look like that when I exercise?’ It’s like, well… it’s all a set-up.

SARA
I think that if you wake up in the morning and are happy with your life, your instinct isn’t to do a fucking reality show about your family and your friends for the world to see. That’s the last resort, in my opinion.

ERIN
When you’re inviting someone to invade your personal space —

SARA
To see what you wouldn’t even want your best friend seeing, just so you can be on TV?! That’s the ultimate act of desperation, and it’s sad. At one point, you and I sort of said, ‘This is crazy. Let’s pull the curtain back and show people that it’s all bullshit.’ So we wrote a show about it.

ERIN
The notion that inspired Barely Famous — that these two girls who live in Los Angeles as actors and writers are simply trying to get through the day without being on camera in one of the many reality shows about their family — is so meta. And it only worked in our favor to play characters who are fake versions of ourselves on the show, because I think we’ve earned the right to make fun of the things we’ve experienced.

SARA
Instead of trying so hard to get noticed — which in itself doesn’t work — we made something we passionately believe in, that came from an authentic place. Now, people say, ‘You wrote a clever show that’s genuinely funny and we want to watch it.’ We’ve really come full circle.

CREDITS

Photography byMichael Brager

Conversation moderated byThe Thick

Erin and Sara Foster are the stars and executive producers of the VH1 television series, Barely Famous.

Did you see? Actress Ashley Williams takes The Thick Questionnaire, makeup artist Jamie Greenberg remembers her first red carpet with actress Katrina Bowden.

THE END