EXCLUSIVE: Willa Fitzgerald (Scream: The TV Series), Herizen Guardiola (The Get Down) and Marlo Kelly (Home and Away) will lead the cast of the USA Network pilot Dare Me, from Universal Cable Productions and Film 44.

Based on the acclaimed novel by Megan Abbott, who serves as writer and executive producer along with Gina Fattore, Dare Me is an unflinching exploration of volatile female friendships, jealousy, loyalty and the dynamics of power in a small Midwestern town. Peering behind the all-American façade, the series dives into the cutthroat world of competitive high school cheerleading, following the fraught relationship between two best friends (Guardiola, Kelly) after a new coach (Fitzgerald) arrives to bring their team to prominence. Part coming-of-age story, part small-town drama, part murder mystery, Dare Me exposes the physical and psychological extremes that some young women are willing to endure in order to get ahead.

USA Network

Fitzgerald plays Colette French. Once a star cheerleader herself, she is now a rising-star high school cheerleading coach with a reputation for building winning squads. Young, beautiful and charismatic, she exudes a deep, enigmatic movie-star cool, but she can’t stop herself from taking risks, with the squad and in her personal life.

Guardiola will play Addy Hanlon, a yearning, ambitious high school student who dreams of using cheer to secure a college scholarship and a ticket out of her Midwestern town. When Coach Colette French arrives, Addy is both inspired and tantalized, finding herself increasingly drawn into Colette’s complicated world.

Kelly will play Beth Cassidy, a perfect pixie cheerleader on the outside, but on the inside a rebel who knows no limits. Her best friend Addy is the only person she truly cares about, the only one she’s ever been able to trust. But the more Addy seems in thrall to Colette, the more determined Beth is to bring their coach down and win Addy back, at all costs.

Peter Berg and Michael Lombardo of Film 44 executive produce along with Sarah Condon and Karen Rosenfelt.

Fitzgerald, who played the lead on Scream: The TV Series, recently wrapped production on a starring role in John Crowley-directed The Goldfinch, alongside Nicole Kidman and Ansel Elgort. She’ll next be seen in the feature adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Her previous TV credits include Alpha House, Royal Pains and guest appearances on Bull, Gotham, The Following and Blue Bloods. She’s  repped by Artists First and Paradigm Talent Agency.

Guardiola is best known for her breakout role as Mylene Cruz on Baz Luhrmannn’s The Get Down Netflix series. In addition to acting, Guardiola is a musician. Her first single “Social Jungle” will be released on Friday and her debut EP will be released in the fall. She is repped by Paradigm Talent Agency and TMWRK Management.

Kelly got her start in the popular Australian series Home & Away. Most recently, she was seen as the title character in the series Patricia Moore. She’s repped by Management 360 and Sophie Jermyn Agency.