'Girls5eva' Stars on Getting to Live Out Their Pop Star Fantasies

Girls5eva follows a one-hit-wonder ’90s girl group who reunite after they get an unexpected opportunity to make a comeback when their only hit song is sampled by a hotshot rapper. Starring Sara Bareilles, Busy Philipps, Renee Elise Goldsberry and Paula Pell as the former foursome, their road to musical redemption is one fraught with bumps and hiccups along the way — prime real estate for comedy gold (and stellar ’90s fashion!). (Girls5eva’s fifth member, played by Emily in Paris’ Ashley Park, is mysteriously missing from their present-day reunion.)

For the stars of Peacock’s musical comedy, produced by Tina Fey, Girls5eva was an opportunity to live out their childhood dreams of being a pop star — even if it was all for play. 

“It is an actual dream come true. I don’t know if there’s one person alive who hasn’t at one point or another fantasized about what it would be like to be a popstar,” Philipps, who plays Girls5eva member Summer, tells ET’s Matt Cohen. “And to get to sing with an actual popstar, Sara Bareilles, and Renee’s voice and Paula’s voice, I truly was like, ‘Oh, I’ve won. I won life guys, I won.'”

“I’m such a musical theatre nerd, so singing with Sara and Renee already was just making me feel like I can’t even absorb this and then Busy… It was such a pincher everyday. It’s like, ‘This cannot be happening, I cannot believe how much fun this is,'” recalls Pell, who plays Gloria. “I love harmonizing and I’ve said so many times in my older years, I really miss harmonizing. Should I just join a local choir ’cause I really miss singing with people?”

The cast of fierce ladies cited power girl groups like TLC, En Vogue, The Supremes, Salt ‘N Pepa and Destiny’s Child for inspiration when it came time to channel their inner rock star to bring Girls5eva to life.

“Destiny’s Child was probably the group I listened to the most. But there’s so many exciting combinations of people coming together, especially when it’s women,” says Bareilles, who plays Dawn. “I did a cappella in college, so singing with other people has always been one of the things I love to do the most. This was definitely living that dream again.”

“TLC was very important in my life. ‘Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls’ was a big deal,” Philipps shares. “I also did love the Spice Girls. I was even maybe too old to love the Spice Girls. And then Destiny’s Child. I mean, who doesn’t love ‘Survivor’? When I tried to learn how to work out when I was 23 or 24 years old I remember playing ‘Survivor’ on repeat as I tried to run. I’ve never been a great runner, but this is the song that can get me through.” Pell chimed in: “It’s kinda like the Rocky theme. You just really have to deliver.”

And if there’s a deeper message behind a comedy charting the unlikely progress of four older women trying their second hand at success and stardom, it’s that it’s never too late to live out your dream.

“I really believe that we are always becoming something that is better than what we were. We were in our 20s, that was really special, but as we change and morph into something else, the new thing that we become — even if the world doesn’t recognize it and is not accustomed to celebrating it — it really does have value,” Goldsberry notes. “I think the same kind of optimism that lives in kids when you ask them, ‘What do you want to be?,’ it’s the question that we should be able to ask yourself. What do you want to be every year you get older? What do you want to be like? We should still continue to dream in that way and I love the fact that these women are doing it in this particular medium that is so unwelcoming.”

“The friendship, the togetherness, the female empowerment of we’re all making each other stronger, we’re making each other better and the idea of us in the show having to come up with our own song is a good metaphor for us living in our own skins and not looking for someone else to save us or make us famous or bring us success or bring us happiness,” Pell says. “It’s like, create your own garden.”

Adds Philipps: “I love the message that you’re stronger together, that individually we all have our own strengths but the friendship of the four of us and the support that we offer one another is the thing that makes us shine in our truest self.”

Girls5eva drops Thursday, May 6 on Peacock.

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