ABC Family’s newest show, Jane By Design, has been a big success so far. I’m loving the great storylines and the fun banter between the characters. This is a very dynamic cast, led by the adorable Erica Dasher.
Erica was kind enough to take some time to speak with some journalists recently, and it was a really fun interview. We discussed her working relationships with the cast, best parts of filming, and even some chat about what they do in their off time.
Jump ahead to see what Kyle and I spoke with her about.
Kyle: On the show, a lot of your scenes with Andie MacDowell are either on the phone or on a video screen. How is it different doing those scenes versus when you get to actually work face-to-face?
Erica Dasher: The great thing is Andie is always on set. At first, they set it up like that because she lives in North Carolina, but after the first episode, she came and got a place out in L.A. while we were shooting so that she could be on set. She does all her off camera dialogue. Even if I have to look at her in the office somewhere and she has nothing to do with the scene and I’m just supposed to be watching her walk somewhere, she’ll do it. She’s incredible.
Kyle: Also, in the show we see Jane frantically switching between her school and her work life. Do you go and switch back and forth between those two different scenes or do you film all of your work scenes one day and all of your school scenes another day?
Erica: Usually we’ll have days where it’s half the week we’ll be on one stage, which has the house and the school, and the other stage has Donovan Decker, which is this grand, beautiful set. But no, there are days too where we’re literally running back and forth across stages, the whole cast is. So it’s fun. It’s a bit of a character setting.
Megan: Do you think it’s possible for girls and boys to be just friends like Billy and Jane?
Erica: I think so. When Harry Met Sally is one of my favorite movies, so that could probably answer it better than I can. The thing about Billy and Jane is there’s so much love in the relationship that you never know what that love could turn into. But I do think it’s possible. I have some good guy friends.
Megan: What’s been your favorite moment filming so far?
Erica: It’s hard not to say standing under the Eiffel Tower doing a scene. It was the last scene we shot and at 8:00, the Eiffel Tower lights up and starts glittering. It was a pretty incredible moment.
Kyle: Last time, we saw Billy and Jeremy were both bending over backwards to help Jane find the Lookbook. How does Jane get these guys to do everything for her, like drop everything to help her out?
Erica: I don’t know. I need to figure that out too. I think she’s making such a genuine effort. You want to help her out. It’s a magical quality that Jane has. It’s one I’m very jealous of.
Kyle: How would you say this experience is different from filming like a web series like you did prior?
Erica: It’s a lot bigger and the hours are a lot more intense. I remember when I was first cast I was so excited, and then a couple of days later I was like, “Oh my gosh, there’s going to be huge stages and hundreds of people and there are going to be cranes.” It’s surprising how intimate it still feels even though there are a hundred people watching you do things, but you’re in the moment and you’re acting. But yes, I don’t think anything could have prepared me.
Plus we had very long days. We did like 12 or 14-hour days and we were doing 11 pages. So it was a really intense process. I completely cut out my social life and everything else and often would stay in a hotel right near the studio so that I could even cut down my drive time. But it was like all Jane all week and then over the weekend I would work with my acting coach on the scripts and start all over again. It takes an incredible amount of focus.
[Note from Megan: Another journalist asked Erica about what they do on set during their down time – she talked about the cast dancing to LMFAO. I felt I needed to ask about this in my follow up.]
Megan: You mentioned LMFOA. Can you shuffle?
Erica: I think I can shuffle pretty well, yes. I pretend to shuffle. They would be a fun cameo to have.
Megan: I think that would be a good prom band maybe.
Erica: Yes, amazing.
Megan: What are you watching on TV these days?
Erica: I love Modern Family. When I broke my ankle, that’s like the only thing that got me through it. I would just watch Modern Family on Hulu all the time. I love American Horror Story on FX, and Justified. I actually used to intern at FX when I first graduated and started auditioning. They were cool with me if I had to leave and go to an audition. It’s been really fun to go back. I went back the other day to say hi and they had been rooting for me for a little while. So I like those two shows. What else do I watch? I love Mad Men. I’ve been watching Pretty Little Liars, too, on ABC Family. I think it’s a really fun show.
That’s all from Kyle and me. Now let’s shuffle off for a few questions from other journalists.
On the chemistry with the cast
Erica: Actually I was cast first and our creator, show runner, and network had me come in and read with all of the other characters. So they really wanted that chemistry to exist with Billy and me, and with my brother and me. So I think that was a really smart thing that they did to go through that process and make sure that we connected from the very beginning.
On filming in Paris
Erica: It was great. We shot mostly in L.A. We have stages up in Santa Clarita and then we did a few days in New York in order to make our New York shots feel a little more authentic. It was just great.
Our producer didn’t want to put me in front of a green screen. They want each episode to feel like a movie. The show really does feel like a romantic comedy in a lot of ways, and I think what makes it special is that it’s on this grand scale. I live in Westchester. I work in SoHo. We travel to Beverly Hills. Eventually we go to Paris.
I was really happy we got to go. It was awesome because we ended production there. We did three or four days of shooting in Paris and then production left and I stayed for five days on my own and wandered around the city. It was an incredible way to end my first job.
On the men of the cast
Erica: They’re all so great and I’ve become such wonderful friends with them. Nick is so much like his character Billy on the show. He really treats women like they’re princesses. He’s such a wonderful friend. When I was broken on the pilot he would carry me around. We would have very long days sometimes where we were shooting 14-hour days. I code red for chocolate around 3 p.m. every day and he’d bring me a piece of chocolate. So he’s great. He takes very good care of all of us.
Matt, who plays Nick, is actually very similar. We just got very lucky. We have very nice, well-raised boys. Matt is from the South and he’s very polite. He’s great.
And then Rowly, he’s a little bit older. He’s so charismatic and he’s really comfortable on set. It’s fun to watch him work. I think he’s really talented. And in real life he’s a lot like his character. He speaks Japanese and French, and obviously he’s British. He’s very much like a sweep-you-off-your-feet kind of guy.
On her documentary, Speak Easy
Erica: We’re in closed production for it now. What we’re probably going to do is finish it in the next couple months and do festivals with it. Hopefully we can get a TV station or someone to pick it up. I mean it would be amazing if it could go to theatres.
My best friend and I met doing speech and debate. We used to go to speech camp together because we were really cool, but we decided to make a movie about it. We shot it in school and then we graduated and then we both immediately got—she’s a producer now in New Media and I got caught up with Jane, but we’re in picture lock. It’s almost done. It’s being composed. The music is being done right now and it’s being animated. But I have a feeling we’ll take it to festivals.
On behind the scenes moments
Erica: A behind the scenes moment, I will share one. Andie and I went to Fashion Week in the middle of production over the weekend for two days and I was—it’s a really overwhelming experience. I had never done it before and I continued to be surprised by how generous everyone has been to me and how well they take care of me.
Andie—everybody’s there from backstage, L’Oreal executives. She’s been the face of L’Oreal for 25 years. She introduced me to everybody and everyone wanted to take pictures with her and she pulled me into every photo and into every interview. It was a really lovely thing. She’s a great role model. And also there was a lot of dancing on set. Like they would call “Cut,” and people would put—LMFAO, for some reason, became this sort of set band. They’d play it on their phones. There was a lot of dancing in between takes.
[Note from Megan: For those of you not familiar with LMFAO, they sing a few really popular upbeat silly songs, like “Party Rock Anthem” and “I’m Sexy and I Know It.” They are also known for doing the shuffle (a modern twist on the running man in my opinion), which is why I asked about the shuffling earlier. Hope that clears it up.]
On upcoming episodes
Erica: Well next week, I think, is a really, really fun episode because India and Jeremy come to the high school. I won’t say why, but they come to the high school. The worlds are colliding big time, and I think it’s a really fun episode. It’s a really heavy episode for India. I think she’s so strong and so beautiful, but she’s so funny. I think it’s a really fun episode.
And then in episode eight there’s some drama, which I think is cool. You saw a bit of that in four, but I think the characters really get to grow in episode eight. And then in nine and ten I think we kill it. I think nine is really strong and funny, and then ten, I think people will be very happy and excited for the end of the season.
That’s it for our interview with the adorable Erica Dasher. Tune in to ABC Family Tuesdays at 9/8c for more Jane By Design. You will be happy you did.