"Jane by Design's" Erica and Andie Dish
"Jane by Design" is a light-hearted drama about a teenager who lands a job at Donovan Decker, a hip fashion house, when they mistake her for an adult. Jane soon finds herself juggling life both as a regular high school student and as an assistant to a high powered executive in the cutthroat world of fashion... all while trying to keep her true identity a secret.
Erica Dasher plays Jane Quimby and beautiful actress Andie MacDowell is her “Devil Wears Prada”-style boss. The duo talked to press recently about their characters and the new ABC Family series on Tuesday nights.
Q: Erica, this is your first really big job. When you found out you got the part, how did that go?
Erica: This is like a pretty good story. Well, I did like a web series just out of school, but I had never had a proper professional television job, and I went to the pre‑read with the casting directors and felt like I did okay. And then I got a callback but I didn't hear anything for like two weeks. When I was in school, I produced a feature‑length documentary that is still in postproduction but almost done, and I write. So I was like I'll create my own work.
I was in a cafe working on a script and I got a phone call to test for the show. And I had never tested for anything before, and so I was very excited, and to be kind to the other patrons, I decided to step out of the cafe instead of yelling. As I stepped out of the cafe, there was a step into the parking lot, and I fell and broke my ankle. "Oh, my gosh. I'm so excited…… My ankle really hurts." It started swelling, and I thought it was just a sprain, and I had a doctor like put me in this big sort of robo-boot, and I went to the test and hopped around in the boot and fortunately got cast and then found out it was broken and didn't recast me. Thank God. If you watch the pilot very closely, you can see me limping in certain scenes, and I had a body double for running in the shoes for the first episode, but they were very supportive.
Q: How would you describe your own personal style?
Erica: Mine is evolving. In high school, I like went through a phase of being very preppy, and then through a phase of wearing all black with Converse. And then, in college, I wore pajamas to class a lot. And now I think the show is informing and has changed the way I dress. I think the lesson that I've learned and what I take from Jane is how conscious she is about what she wears, and that it is a form of expression. So, in a lot of ways, I line up with the way she dresses. She's bold, and she's not afraid to take risks, but there's an underlying thread of femininity.
Andie: Well, I love great clothes, but most of the time when I'm home I wear blue jeans, and I like blue jeans and a sweater, and I like pretty, soft sweaters or dresses and boots. But when I'm working, I show a different part of myself because I think I can't walk around looking like that. So I make a greater effort to look sophisticated, but I do have that very unsophisticated, country‑girl spirit inside of me, but I know how to be appropriate. So I present myself as very sophisticated, but I'm really not.
Q: Kids and teens want to grow up right now and be in an adult world. How about you, Erica, did you quickly move toward growing up and becoming a working actress quickly?
Erica: I actually waited. I had a rebellious youth. I got to do all that good stuff. But I was also a big speech and debate nerd. I grew up in Texas, and then I went to college at USC, and this is my first job. I did take the time to go to school, and I'm grateful every day that I went to college. I think one of the things that really attracted me to the project was something that a showrunner, April Blair, said at the beginning, which was, "Now that she's an adult, there are so many things that she wishes she could tell her younger self." And Jane gets to live in the adult world and take those lessons to high school the next day, and I think that's really cool. So she develops confidence and passion and all of that stuff, and it lives in her and informs her school life too.
There's a definite fantasy element to the show, and it's a wish fulfillment. I certainly would have done it.
Q: Erica, are you having fun wearing and being around all the great clothes?
Erica: Oh, my gosh. It's a dream come true. It's totally great. Yeah. I'm learning how to walk in the heels, just barely. But it's wonderful. I am not on a law show or a medical show where I have to wear a business suit. I get to put on beautiful dresses every day, and it's really neat because the clothes are a character in and of themselves. It's a way to express a lot of what's going on with the show and each of the characters, and it's really fun.
And our costume designer, Olivia Miles‑Payne, is a genius. We have a really large cast, and they all have very big wardrobes. And she's really created distinct personalities for each and every one of us. I think a real testament to Olivia is the fact that there will be, like, these burly grips on set that come up to her and say, "We really like Jane's dress today," and everyone's becoming more educated about the fashion business, which is fun.
Q: Andie, are you having fun playing Erica’s unbearable boss?
Andie: I'm fed by the energy of working with these great young actors and showing up on a set every day. I'm in a place in my life where my kids are now taking off, and I like to be vital. I like to work. And the writing's terrific. It's fantastic. I'm having so much fun playing this character. I never knew it would be so much fun to be a mean, horrible person. You can find these wonderful comic abilities when you play a character like this. They're fun.
Q: What do you think about the “The Devil Wears Prada” comparisons?
Andie: I did see The Devil Wears Prada, but I don't really think it's that much like the show. I think it's easy to equate them because there's some slight similarities, but they're really not the same thing. I don't think of my character at all particularly like that [Meryl Streep] character. I think there's gonna be a great opportunity for humor. My favorite thing to do is to make people laugh. That's ultimately gonna be my goal.
I've worked with a lot of really, really strong, powerful women, and I don't necessarily see the character as mean. I just think she's very stressed out. She's under an enormous amount of pressure. She's fighting for her job. It's ruthless. And that's what also has been the really sweet thing to be able to see is the innocence of high school and having to come and work with these people that are ruthless. [Erica] gets to see what going to the real world is going to be like when you are just an innocent high school kid.
Erica: I can speak to that a little bit further. The comparisons, I guess, are sort of there, but you get to delve much deeper. I love The Devil Wears Prada, and I think most of my friends and I have seen it several times, and I think what's fun about the show is you get to delve much deeper into that world, and the characters become even fuller and more three-dimensional, and our relationship starts to progress, and we bring out different things in each other, and I think that's really compelling to watch.