The first season of the new ABC Family series JANE BY DESIGN has taken Jane Quimby down a fabulous “rabbit hole” into the world of high fashion while living a double-life: one where she is an everyday young adult navigating the trials of teen life, and the other where she glamorously lives out her dreams at a prominent design firm and juggles more romantic interests than she can keep track of on any given day. In a recent press conference call, star Erica Dasher candidly shared what she loves about Jane and who she might be tempted to choose as a romantic interest if she were in Jane’s shoes.
What’s it like to play Jane, and how do you go about bringing her to life?
ERICA: Well, I love playing Jane. I think she’s an incredibly passionate and vulnerable character and she has a great sense of humor about herself and the world. I was not a popular girl in high school, so it’s not a difficult thing for me to tap into. And I’m also at a point in my life where I am going through what she’s going through. She’s pursuing her dream and it’s starting to be realized and I feel like that very much in the acting world and with this job, it’s my first real professional job, and so it’s all very exciting. In terms of the work I do, the scripts are great and I love working with comedy because it forces you to be on your toes. There’s a certain music to comedy, I think, and finding that is very fun, and also the cast is so wonderful and they give me so much. It’s just great. We have a blast.
What’s been your favorite episode or scene so far?
ERICA: Oh, that is difficult. One of my favorite scenes from this season hasn’t happened yet, but Billy and I are home alone, my mother and Ben are both gone, for different reasons, and we have basically completely trashed the house, we’ve watched scary movies and we have pizza everywhere, and it was just a really fun scene to shoot. I love working with Nick. We always have a blast. And then, what else this season, oh, well we shot in New York over a weekend, Brian Depard and I, who plays Eli, and that episode aired last night, where we did a big montage around the city and it was super fun shooting all of that stuff. I love being in New York.
In what ways are you most and least like Jane?
ERICA: I am most like Jane in that I think I have a goofy sense of humor, the way that she does and hopefully I have infused that a little bit. I think the writers write to that, which is really fun. I’m least like Jane in the boy department. She is magical. There are always a lot of boys after her, and I need to learn.
Are you happy with the direction that your character is headed this season?
ERICA: Absolutely. For me it’s been very fun to read the scripts and watch the other character stories develop, and I think … created really three dimensional characters and it’s fun to become invested in them and work with so many different people. And now that there are new characters on the show that are really shaking things up it forces Jane into some different and difficult situations, and with the return of her mother, with the introduction of Zoey and her shifting dynamic with Billy, it’s been a fun and different thing for me to explore. I really like it.
Is there a time that’s going to come, maybe this season or hopefully the following seasons, that Jane’s going to have to come to terms with losing something or someone because of the double life she’s living?
ERICA: Absolutely. It’s a very tenuous situation. Certainly with Eli he doesn’t know that she’s in high school. I’m not sure how long she can keep that up. And yes, at any moment, and I think that’s what makes the show so fun, at any moment everything can come crashing down.
Did you have an interest in fashion before working on the show, and what’s it like to be into the high fashion environment?
ERICA: I always admired fashion from afar, but I’ve learned so much from the show. It’s really depressing to come home to my own closet, but it’s really been fascinating to immerse myself in this world. Andie MacDowell just was in Paris and she brought me back a history of fashion book and a biography of Prada and Schiaparelli, and it’s fun to learn about the history of all of it and just wearing the clothes and seeing the time and the craftsmanship that designers put in. Obviously our costume designer, Olivia Miles-Payne is a genius and I really love watching her work because she’s created such a beautiful palette for all of these characters and such distinct personalities that are expressed through the clothes and the fashion for all of us, and I think it really does the show right.
Why do you think Billy didn’t tell Jane about his feelings in episode 11?
ERICA: I think Billy was confused. I think it’s a scary thing to completely change the dynamic of the very long relationship and friendship. He had been away for two months in a juvenile detention center and I think maybe even there he learned to be more guarded. So I think it’s a combination of things.
Do you think that Jane has romantic feelings for him at all?
ERICA: I think there is a lot of love between those two characters and you never know what that love could possibly turn into. So I think it makes sense, now that they’re growing up, to reexamine that. I think she certainly thinks about it.
We’ve been talking about Billy a lot, with his new girlfriend how are things between Jane and Billy going to change in the relationship?
ERICA: It’s interesting, Jane has tried to confront him about what happened last season and he doesn’t want to deal with it. And with the introduction of this new girl, Jane really has to feel things out rather slowly, and I think she’s figuring out what her own feelings are for Billy as well. But it certainly shifts the dynamic, I think.
In real life if you could choose between Nick or Billy, who would you pick?
ERICA: If it was me, even though I love both of those boys, probably Billy, because I too was an outcast and I get Billy.
What is it like working with Terri Hatcher the director and Terri Hatcher the actress?
ERICA: Terri Hatcher the director will come in next season, if we get one. She didn’t direct one this season. But as an actress I can already see her director’s eye. She has ideas about how to enhance a scene, both visually and emotionally, she’s a really incredibly smart woman and has been working in this industry for a very long time, and it was so educational watching her. And she’s also just a lot of fun and she gives so much. We were doing a super emotional scene and it’s midnight and we shoot her coverage first, and she was crying and then they turned the cameras around on my brother and I, and she does the same performance. She’s very generous and giving and it was a gift to work with her.
Where do you see Jane’s relationship with her mother going?
ERICA: Jane is very excited to have her back, whereas Ben is a little bit wary, and so Jane welcomes her with open arms. But where it goes, I don’t want to give too much away, but her mother is a person who’s afraid of commitment and you never know what’s going to happen. But she really wants to continue to build that relationship.
What do you think Jane can improve on?
ERICA: Oh gosh, it’s so funny because I think once that I’m living in Jane’s world she doesn’t do a lot of thinking before acting, so perhaps that, if she thought a little bit before she acted. But it’s almost as if she doesn’t even have time to think, because she’s running back and forth between these two different worlds, so that.
What do you like most then about Jane?
ERICA: I like her sense of humor, and I like that she is ambitious and passionate about pursuing her dreams. I think she’s a really good role model for young women and certainly has been for me. She will not quit, which I think is a wonderful quality.
Is there any chance that India and Jane are going to reconcile this season, or maybe form an alliance together?
ERICA: Oh gosh, good question. India is a cunning, conniving woman, but she was not the mole and I think that if she and Jane are able to confront that, something interesting might develop. But you never really know what India’s going to do. She always has another agenda.
How has your own personal sense of fashion changed since you started playing such a fashionista, and how would you describe your sense of style?
ERICA: It has changed in two ways. I think when I do red carpets or I’m going out with friends to a nice place I’m more conscious, I make more of an effort about choosing what goes together and I think I take more risks. But also in my daily life I think it’s made me more relaxed, because you’re on the show and you go through two hours of hair and makeup and I’m wearing heels all day and I do all of these costume changes, so in my real life I just want to put on jeans and a t-shirt and no makeup.
Has there been anything that’s been difficult for you to do so far on the show?
ERICA: Running in heels. No, I think the most difficult thing about this show is the very long hours we do, and we move very quickly. Sometimes I’ll get a script and we’ll start shooting it the next day, but I will have been in every scene the day before, so just the sheer nature of the beast makes it difficult to just get the lines down. But really we’re so fortunate, it’s such a positive set and a cast that’s so supportive and we all have such great chemistry. I think in the rehearsal process before they start lighting we really are able to find it rather quickly, which is nice.
What is the key to running so successfully in those heels all the time on the show?
ERICA: I don’t know. I broke my ankle before I got the part, or in the process of getting the part, and the whole pilot they framed my feet out and I had a body double, so I always say it’s punishment, for the rest of the show I will be running in heels. I don’t know. But you know we really do, when we know we have scenes where I’m running we make sure I’m in heels that fit very well or are extra tight or have an ankle strap, but it’s no easy task.
What advice would you give to Jane?
ERICA: If I could give advice to Jane what would I give? To slow down a little bit and don’t be afraid to tell people how you feel. I think that applies to her mother. I think it applies to Billy. I think it could eventually apply to Eli. I think that that can be a scary thing to do sometimes, but it’s a helpful one.
What’s your favorite outfit that you’ve worn on the show?
ERICA: It’s almost such a blur. Oh no, I love the black dress I wore in episode 2, I think it’s a Katy Rodriguez dress and it ties in the back and it has a big full skirt, and I adore that dress. And I like the “skull,” I think it’s a Betsy Johnson skull onesie that I wore with a red sweater. That’s awesome, too.
You were talking about the chemistry among the cast members, how much of that chemistry do the fans see in the show?
ERICA: I hope that that shines through and reads. I think that that’s why the show works, because we work. Nick and I have so much fun working together it’s like I could be exhausted and miserable and I walk on to the set and start a scene with Nick and suddenly I’m in a good mood, because we just play really well off each other. And the same with David, I mean, everybody. The energy is really positive on set, we’re very fortunate. I was cast first, and then they had me come in to do chemistry reads with all the other characters, so it was a really smart thing the producers did at the beginning of the process by making sure that we matched up.
Speaking of chemistry, what celebrity in real life would you most like to date?
ERICA: You know I have been asked this question before and I always tell myself that I’m going to think of a really good answer, but I never have one. So let me think right now. Everybody’s so cute. I don’t know. Right now I can only think of Ryan Gosling, but I think just because he’s the most ubiquitous, good looking, talented person, so we’ll go with him.
To see more of the beautiful poignant story of Jane Quimby as it continues on JANE BY DESIGN, be sure to tune in on Tuesday nights at 9:00 p.m. on ABC Family.
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