O31 won’t be the first film Dani Dyer has appeared in – she has previously been seen in fare like Age of Kill, We Still Kill the Old Way and Bonded by Blood 2 – but it will be the first film she’ll make as a newly minted Love Island star.
By the time O31 comes out, she will be legitimately famous. Or at least, as legitimately famous as an ITV2 reality show contestant can be once the afterglow of Love Island has faded. Will anybody watch it? That’s harder to say. Dyer will play a woman who realises her brother killed her mum. According to its writer, O31 deals with: “race, politics, religion, homosexuality and how these are seen in society.” It doesn’t sound like a fun time.
By all accounts, Dyer is in a tricky situation. Thanks to Love Island, she is more visible than she has ever been. But, thanks to Love Island, she’s going to have to work 10 times harder than every other actor if she wants to be taken seriously. Love Island is going to warp and taint her career for years. If she isn’t careful, all her roles will feel like stunt casting, trading off a quickly decaying moment of notoriety.
When stars of reality shows make films, it is almost always a disaster. There is a reason why From Justin to Kelly (2003) is often singled out as the worst film ever made: it’s because it’s the worst film ever made; a miscalculated attempt to leverage the winner and runner-up of the first American Idol series into something resembling a film career. Neither Kelly Clarkson nor Justin Guarini were actors. They had no chemistry. They could barely read lines. The film was a terrible, soulless contractual obligation for all involved. It contained a song entitled Chick-Seeking Missile but isn’t nearly as fun as that makes it sound.
And From Justin to Kelly is only the tip of the iceberg. In 2014, X Factor winner Leona Lewis featured in Walking on Sunshine, a miserable little jukebox musical that made Mamma Mia! look like Tarkovsky. Jedward’s foray into cinema currently consists of three Sharknado movies and Keith Lemon: The Film. Despite studying at the Lee Strasberg Institute, Caggie Dunlop from Made in Chelsea has only managed a bit-part role – someone called Poodle – in a largely unseen film called The Hand of the Creator. Even Paris Hilton, at the height of her reality show infamy, could only scale the questionable heights of The Hottie and the Nottie, a real film that people actually paid money to make.
However, there are exceptions. Emma Stone, for example, got her first big break on a 2005 reality show called In Search of the Partridge Family – which aimed to cast the pilot for a remake of the beloved 1970s sitcom – and she went on to win an Oscar.
So it can be done. Dyer should take comfort from this. If she works hard and makes sensible choices, she too can outpace the toxic orbit of reality television. Plus, she’s already made Run for Your Wife, so it’s not like her career can get any worse.