4 teen stars of ‘Paper Girls’ get a taste of Chicago

While making the Prime Video time-travel series here last summer, the actors kayaked the river, indulged in Jeni’s ice cream and got a feel for the ever-changing weather.

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Riley Lai Nelet (from left) plays Erin Tieng with Camryn Jones as Tiffany Quilkin, Fina Strazza as KJ Brandman and Sofia Rosinsky as Mac Coyle in “Paper Girls.”

Riley Lai Nelet (from left) plays Erin Tieng with Camryn Jones as Tiffany Quilkin, Fina Strazza as KJ Brandman and Sofia Rosinsky as Mac Coyle in “Paper Girls.”

Prime Video

When they came to Chicago last summer to film “Paper Girls,” the four teenage actors were visiting the city for the first time and getting their first taste of the city’s fickle weather.

Fina Strazza, who plays highbrow field hockey player KJ Brandman, can’t forget enduring stifling humidity while running, biking and fighting on the highly physical series, all while dressed in layers for its fall setting.

Then, there were the thunderstorms.

“We had a lot of lightning, so, every time lightning struck within eight to 12 miles of set, we had to shut down for 30 minutes,” Strazza, 16, said during a recent return visit to Chicago with her castmates.

Based on the graphic novel series of the same name, the sci-fi adventure “Paper Girls” debuts July 29 on Prime Video. The eight-episode series is about four girls from Ohio who are delivering newspapers early on “Hell Day,” the day after Halloween, in 1988 when they’re abruptly transported to the year 2019.

They work together to find a way to get back home while evading the Old Watch, a group of militants who have made time travel illegal. And they come face to face with their future, grown-up selves.

During their weeks in Chicago, Strazza and fellow “Paper Girls” stars Riley Lai Nelet, Camryn Jones and Sofia Rosinsky got to check out the architecture and kayak on the Chicago River. But what they loved doing most was getting Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams every weekend after filming.

Another highlight was a school-style Spirit Week when cast and crew members dressed up for daily themes like Disney or the ’80s. They also perked up their downtime by dancing, listening to music and modeling Troll dolls to look like the girls they were portraying.

“I really admire Tiff’s protectiveness over the people she loves and her willingness to accomplish her goals,” Jones, 15, said of her character Tiffany Quilkin. “She’s also very encyclopedic. And I look up to that.”

Nelet, 14, who plays Erin Tieng, said she sees her character as a responsible person who tries to take care of the people she loves.

Rosinsky, 16, who plays Mac Coyle, admired her character’s sense of humor and fashion choices and her ability to adapt.

“KJ has a very strong moral compass and is fiercely loyal,” Strazza said. “I strive to be the same.”

Strazza, who grew up in what she describes as a strong female household, said: “The show puts so much emphasis on female power, and our steps were very female-driven. We had four female directors, and a lot of the producers and showrunners were women. So that’s something I think that shines through the show.”

The young actors point to the series’ themes of friendship and having people by your side.

“If you like sci-fi, we have amazing special effects,” Rosinsky said. “If you like coming-of-age stories, you’ll fall in love with these guys.”

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