Aimy Hart has been described as determined, delusional, selfish, naive and insecure. Part ditzy reality star and celebutante, part desperate actress, Aimy’s online web series, Miss Top 10, has netted the ambitious starlet many new fans – over 300 of them on Facebook. They follow along each week as the series chronicles her many misadventures: Aimy bounces off to auditions, only to be cast as a promotions girl at sporting events, and get set up by her parents with a handsome mayoral hopeful – who needs Aimy to hide the fact he’s a flaming homosexual. The episodes are three to five minute-long bites of the daily life of a drama queen, framed by a pink jewel-encrusted Internet video player.
Aimy’s now a bona fide Montreal reality show hero. In fact, she is many things – except for real.
Aimy’s actually the creation of recent Concordia grads and current couple Michaela Di Cesare and Jorge Zavagno. They met in a drama class at Dawson and started working together. While at Concordia, where she got a degree in creative writing and theatre and he got a degree in film studies and communications, they staged Legend, a short piece of theatre on the life of Marilyn Monroe. Zavagno directed, and Di Cesare wrote and starred in the piece.
Grown-ups usually counsel young people not to behave compulsively: hold off on moving in together, wait to have kids, don’t get married so soon. Di Cesare and Zavagno, both in their early 20s, were warned to put off doing something else – starting their own video and theatre company. “We often make jokes that our projects are our babies,” said Di Cesare. The sage advice of their elders didn’t stop them, and it’s a good thing. Less than a year out in the real world, and the two already have a short film Inspecteur Maxime, and Miss Top 10 under their belt – all done while holding down full-time jobs and other projects.
Miss Top 10, and Aimy Hart, grew out of the intention to poke fun at themselves. Last year, Di Cesare was checking to see if the sandwiches at her parent’s shop ranked in the Mirror’s annual Best of Montreal list. To her surprise, she herself had made the list – as number nine out of the top 10 actresses in Montreal – just above Entourage star and hometown gal Emmanuelle Chriqui. Di Cesare refused to take it seriously.
“I know I’m not more popular than she is. I wouldn’t want to call it a humbling experience because that would just be taking myself too seriously. I know what the list is, and I know that it’s a popularity contest.” But the die was cast – Di Cesare and Zavagno started bouncing ideas off of each other; she wrote the initial scenes, he would add to them. Di Cesare would be the self-obsessed reality star, Aimy, and Zavagno would work behind the scenes filming and editing.
“We’re pretty good at time management, and getting things done,” said Zavagno of their working together. “We each have our own style.” He added that the two push each other’s creavity – and Di Cesare maintains that without Zavagno encouraging her writing, she might not have ended up where she is – instead, Di Cesare thinks she would be working 9 to 5 at a desk job.
The story evolved as Aimy got a cameraman and director, Jose (Jaime Del Aguilar). Jose is Mexican, a joke aimed at Zavagno, whose is often mistaken as having Mexican origins. With that jab, and Aimy partly modelled on Di Cesare, they maintain that having a laugh at yourself is key to being grounded.
The duo pooled their resources and, after a lot of planning and casting, they shot the series over five days in the fall. Since then, one episode has been released nearly every Monday.
Zavagno and Di Cesare intend to keep on writing, performing and producing creative works. When they have rare downtime, they usually spend the time cooking (mostly butter chicken) and reviewing Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes. Miss Top 10 hasn’t been noticed by any television network, the way some web series have, but for now, it’s all part of the learning experience. Looking back at their first film project, Di Cesare said “we definitely did do things better than in Inspecteur Maxime, and we also made new mistakes in Miss Top 10. So it’s just a process of learning.”
“In the end, we’re just having fun,” said Zavagno.
Head to miayaya.com to check out the latest episode of Miss Top 10.