The Untold Truth Of Chicken Girls

If you don't know about Brat TV yet, it's time to catch up. This digital network creates online-only episodes for Gen Z tribes. Its big breakout show, Chicken Girls, follows young adults who mix excitement, drama, and ships with school — not unlike the stars that play the characters.

When talking about the network in 2017, production chief Asher Levin claimed to Variety, "We're bringing back the honest, irreverent and sexy programming that resonated with young audiences in the '80s and '90s." So, how did its flagship series, Chicken Girls, get its funny name? In addition to the show's two original main stairs — Annie LeBlanc and Hayden Summerall — the series, according to the publication, "follows a group of dancers known by their pet name, the Chicken Girls."

So, have you seen Chicken Girls: The Movie? Are you rooting for Rhyme? School's back in session and the first class is: the untold truth of Chicken Girls.

Brat TV's founders took a huge risk

Hollywood is already such a competitive field, so imagine how scary it must be to launch an entirely new network. Well, that's exactly what co-founders Darren Lachtman and Rob Fishman did with Brat TV. In their previous careers, they helped launch a marketing company, which got acquired by Twitter. From their knowledge of Gen Z, they felt no good content existed for these young adults and "became obsessed with the idea of creating an entertainment company for teens," according to Inc. So, Lachtman and Fishman launched Brat TV, referencing the legendary Brat Pack actors from the '80s.

The Brat TV model is very different than its counterparts, with most intellectual property done in house — that is, writing, production, staffing, and publishing its own shows. But this meant taking a monetary gamble early on and using budget-saving film tricks to create these special programs. Securing the right actors and directors helped along the way, and the team set their sights on even bigger things. "Fishman wants to use Chicken Girls (and other shows in the future) as the basis for a franchise ... [and] he's exploring merchandising and other avenues as well," according to Business Insider. And he's already started with 2018's Chicken Girls: The Movie and the Chicken Girls book series deal with Skyhorse Publishing.

All of this led to an expansion deal with MGM TV in 2019 — meaning your favorite Brat TV shows have a bright future.

The Chicken Girls school may look familiar to Brat TV fanatics

For its lineup of series, the Brat TV team "took over a high school near Pasadena, Calif., and filmed a slate of overlapping shows set in the same fictional high school," per Variety. Almost every show, including Chicken Girls, takes place in the Attaway High universe, and "characters cross over between various productions in order to foster an environment that approximates a typical American high school." 

This sunny filming location and character-swapping work in several ways: the audience gets to see more of its favorite stars, it really is like high school with overlapping stories, and Brat TV saves money on production. But since the team can't completely take over the school in Pasadena, the network made its own. At their "cramped 10,000-square-foot office in Hollywood at Willoughby Avenue and North Highland Avenue, part of the building has been modeled as a set for a fictional school's hallway," the Los Angeles Times reported. 

Could you notice a difference? The fake hallways are fully stocked with props, "complete with lockers and bulletins for the school's play and math club sign-ups." Hollywood TV magic at its finest.

Indiana Massara earned her spot on Chicken Girls

What would life at Attaway High be like without Rooney? Indiana Massara, who plays the character, quickly became the other main star of Chicken Girls alongside Annie LeBlanc. But did you know she almost wasn't even on the show? 

In an interview with TigerBeat, the reporter asked Massara how she got her start on Brat TV. The actress admitted, "I originally auditioned for another show called Attaway Appeal. I went in, read lines, and the director of that was like, 'Hey, I really like you. Do you also want to do this thing called Chicken Girls?'" Massara responded in her most humble way, "Yeah. Sure, why not? I'm not doing anything else this week."

She definitely made the most of the opportunity and went on to be a shining star for the network. According to her IMDb page, Massara has played Rooney in other Brat TV series, like Attaway Appeal and Total Eclipse, plus the movies Chicken Girls: The Movie and Intern-in-Chief. You better believe there's more to come for this talented young actress.

The Chicken Girls stars got a big surprise

It must be nice to be so popular that a series gets turned into a movie. What's surprising, however, is how Brat TV told its Chicken Girls stars about their film. In 2018, the network released Chicken Girls: The Movie directly on its YouTube channel. Prior to filming, it appears producers did a lot of work behind the scenes to set up the project.

According to star Indiana Massara, the cast didn't even realize it was making Chicken Girls: The Movie at first. In an interview with TigerBeat, Massara explained the story of how she came on board for the full-length feature: "They sat us down [one day on set] and gave us our script, and it was a lot bigger than normal!" Typically, the episodes run about 15 minutes, so this script must have been one thick stack of papers. Massara continued to say that the producers told her and the other actors, "So we're filming a movie. Should we start next week?" Making the sudden move from sitcom to feature-length movie? Um, yeah, no big deal.

The making of Chicken Girls: The Movie

In 2018, Brat TV released Chicken Girls: The Movie directly on its YouTube platform, but this film "almost had a more traditional Hollywood release," according to the Los Angeles Times. The publication reports that after Brat TV landed a deal with distributing and marketing studio Lionsgate, the two companies differed on a few viewpoints: the network reportedly "wanted to release the film before the launch of the show's third season," whereas Lionsgate "wanted a more traditional studio-quality movie."

On the Lionsgate side, Erik Feig co-runs the motion pictures division and apparently "first invested as an individual in Brat, but ... got interested in Chicken Girls specifically when he was talking to his 13-year-old daughter" (via Business Insider). Feig told the outlet that when he mentioned the show's star, Annie Leblanc, his daughter said, "Oh my God, of course I know her!" From that point, his daughter "was immediately hooked."

Unfortunately, the end movie product received mixed reception, including a Decider review that recommended readers "skip it" after it never made it into theaters. But it's not all bad news. The Los Angeles Times noted that "the movie's release brought thousands of new subscribers to its YouTube channel, where the company can make money through advertising." Chicken Girls: The Movie reportedly took three weeks and about $500,000 to create, so time will tell if Brat TV will recuperate that amount of dough.

Starving artists? Not quite

When the cameras aren't rolling, the Chicken Girls cast can be found fighting backstage — but don't worry, there are no TV cast feuds to speak of here. Sure, the scripts on the show and the other Brat TV series are full of high school drama, but most of its stars thankfully get along really well. That means this "fighting" is actually quite wholesome. As Indiana Massara revealed in an interview with TigerBeat, she and her costars "always fight over the snacks." She added, "We're always like, 'No. I want the last hot Cheetos!' All the time." To be fair, that seems like a reasonable argument.

How about other cheesy, crunchy snacks? "Cheez-Itz!" Massara revealed are apparently a cast favorite, adding, "We picked up a lot of behind-the-scenes vlogging, and our lives are pretty much an open book on video, so they'll see those when they come out." Let's hope for some more candid footage of the actresses who bring Rooney and Rhyme to life making a push to the snack table.

More school while at school on the Chicken Girls set

Did you have a part-time job during school? Did it involve studying lines, getting primped, and performing for millions to later watch? Such is the life of many young actors — and it's no different for the cast of Chicken Girls. Actress Lily Chee has said that her devotion to school matched that of her character, Britney, confessing to Brat TV, "In my freshman and sophomore years I was more focused on friends and boys, but this year I'm definitely focusing more on schoolwork."

But it can be tough to drown out all the action on set to get schoolwork done. Riley Lewis, who plays Quinn Forrester, opened up about filming with other teens to Sweety High: "It's kind of distracting, because you have all your friends around and you all just want to talk and hang out." So, it's not just acting for these stars, since obligatory life duties don't disappear. Or, as Lewis put it, "It's hard because even though there are only three hours [of school] a day, you still have to get everything done!"

Actress Annie LeBlanc, too, stays busy with her studies as part of her daily routine, revealing to Brat TV that at the start of a typical work day, "It's time to eat breakfast, look over my schedule to see how many scenes I have, and then start school."

Chicken Girls star Indiana Massara grew up on screen and off

Similar to say, the Harry Potter movie franchise, it's amazing to see how much the young actors change over time, both in height and maturity. Indiana Massara started at Brat TV in 2017, but a lot has happened in her years on screen. In an interview with Brat TV, she opened up about blossoming right in front of the Chicken Girls audience. 

"In just over two years with Brat TV, I've changed so much as a person and an actor. I was 14 turning 15 when I started," Massara said. Since that time, she's lived a life that sounds like someone twice her age: "I've had my first boyfriend, been broken up with and had my heart broken, had jobs, recorded songs."

We imagine it must be stressful, time-consuming, and challenging to deal with all of those aspects of adolescence even without appearing on screen. But add on top of that filming for Brat TV, and you get a better sense of Massara's daily life. Luckily, things appear to be positive, as she revealed, "As a person, I've matured so much and hopefully become a better actress during it all."

Brothers and sisters are all over the Chicken Girls set

One of the coolest things you may not have realized are all the real-life ships on Chicken Girls. No, not romantic — we're talking about family. First up are Dylan and Caden Conrique. This sister-brother duo play Kayla and Tim, respectively. When an interviewer for CelebMix asked Dylan who she was closest to in terms of bonding on set, she adorably said, "Besides my brother Caden who plays Tim Sharp, my closest relationships are Annie and Hayden."

The next siblings set is Riley and Madison Lewis, who play Quinn and Birdie. These sisters are actually part of the Lewis Triplets, complete with brother Dakota. In a video for Famous Birthdays, the three sat down to see how much they knew about each other. While discussing knowledge in the family, Madison admitted, "[Riley's] the smart one, he's in the middle, then it's me."

And don't forget about Chicken Girls star Annie LeBlanc and her little sister, Hayley. While the two even have their own cooking show on Nickelodeon called Annie vs. Hayley, their dad, Billy, also helps out on Brat TV. According to his IMDb page, Billy has appeared in four episodes of Chicken Girls and co-executive produced many other network series.

Clearly, there's something in the water at these showbiz households.

Chicken Girls features progressive story lines for teens

Brat TV started on the principle of providing entertainment to a new generation, and that included advancing the conversations presented on TV shows. Sam Silver, Brat TV's head of development, told Fast Company, "The younger generation is a lot more open than we realize and give them credit for." Before joining the Brat TV family, Silver was a writer and creator for Disney and Nickelodeon shows. But he recognized that things needed to progress at Brat TV, saying, "We want to do stuff that is a little bit deeper and is thoughtful and has real issues that teens are going through."

A great example is the relationship between Stephanie and Mel on Chicken Girls. As Silver put it, "Sexuality is not as big a deal to kids as it is with the older generations — they just want to see it reflected." Indeed, viewers took notice and applauded the show's open-minded and natural approach. In an article posted on Medium, the author revealed how she wished she'd had a similar storyline to watch while going through high school. But although this fan didn't grow up with a character on TV to relate to, she declared that Chicken Girls "delivered on this for a new group of teens."

Can you recognize that Chicken Girls song?

The cast of Chicken Girls is full of musicians. Some first started on (later named TikTok) to show off their vocals, while others jumped right into the music scene. Annie LeBlanc, Hayden Summerall, Indiana Massara, and Brooke Butler all have their own songs and music videos, but Brat TV wisely incorporated their talents into the series, as well, with LeBlanc, Butler, and Summerall performing the show's theme song, "Birds of a Feather."

As reported by Everly Mag, from the very first season, "Chicken Girls started to feature original music from its cast members." The article went on to describe the dual benefits for these singles: "The songs are catchy and the lyrics are super relatable, which makes the songs perfect within the show and for jamming on their own." Chicken Girls' young men and women even went on the road in 2018 through a U.S. tour with the Rock Your Hair company.

It seems like these actors like to show off their musical talents during downtime on set, too. Discussing her most memorable moments while filming, Indiana Massara told The Daily Shuffle, "The laughter, impromptu guitar playing and singing will stay with me forever."

Chicken Girls' director films for multiple industries

While the on-screen talent, of course, deservedly get most of the credit for hooking viewers into Brat TV shows like Chicken Girls, let's not forget about those who work behind the scenes. It's important to get the right person behind the camera to direct and organize the shoots. Perhaps the biggest workhorse for the Brat TV family, then, is Chris Campbell (pictured, second from right). This Vietnamese-American had his hand in directing seasons two, four, and five of Chicken Girls. According to his IMDb page, Campbell also directed episodes for these other Brat TV series: Red Ruby, Crown Lake, A Girl Named Jo, Total Eclipse, Brobot, and Attaway Appeal

That is quite the TV resume ... but you might also recognize his work in the music scene. According to his personal website, Campbell has directed several commercials and music videos, including those for the LA DJ trio Cheat Codes and hip-hop duo The Seige. The man clearly knows how to make content for the younger generations visually appealing.