Paramount Network's new comedy series American Woman was inspired by the childhood of Kyle Richards, and cast member Makenna James shared how involved The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star was during production.
Richards serves as executive producer for the new series, and James told PopCulture.com exclusively that the reality star played a pivotal role bringing the stories of her growing up in Los Angeles to life.
"Kyle was very involved with the creative side of development, and was a huge asset to the actors, including myself," James said in an email. "She was always on table reads and on set, and would often share the wild and eccentric details of her childhood with us."
The series, which follows Bonnie (Alicia Silverstone) — a character based on Richards' mother Kathleen — an unconventional mom struggling to raise her daughters with the help of best friends Kathleen (Mena Suvari) and Diana (Jennifer Bartels) as they discover their own brand of independence amid the rise of second-wave feminism in the 1970s.
Richards' input in the creative process, as well as on set helped bring authenticity to the stories, James said.
"Through telling stories, she really brought her childhood to life," James said. "Every little tidbit about her upbringing inspired us to add more of her personal story into our narrative."
James plays the role of Becca Nolan, the rebellious and outspoken daughter of Silverstone's Bonnie. The actress, whose role on American Woman marks her first series regular gig, said she felt privileged to work with her talented cast members.
"It was such a privilege," James said. "Alicia is such a warm and compassionate person. I actually struggled with being mean to her in our scenes."
Created by John Riggi, the series stars Silverstone, Suvari, Bartels, James and Lia McHugh. Cheyenne Jackson and James Tupper are among recurring stars for the first season.
Ahead of the premiere, Richards told E! News that plenty moments from her childhood will be recreated in the new comedy series.
She revealed that in the pilot episode, viewers will see a scene where Bonnie (Silverstone) confronts a group of men who were following them home. After the encounter, Bonnie tells her daughters never to be intimidated "by a man."
The scene was shot exactly as it happened in real life, which Richards said is meant to inspire viewers the way those moments inspired her in her life.1comments
"It meant a lot to me to have moments like that that impacted me and inspired me. And I hope it inspires other young girls or women to just be strong and look after themselves and go after what they want out of life," Richards told the outlet.
American Woman premieres Thursday at 10 p.m. ET on Paramount Network.