If you’ve turned on ABC Family in the last couple months, you’ve probably seen a promo for Jane by Design, a new original series about quirky, unpopular high school student Jane Quimby, who accidentally lands a prestigious job at a high-end New York fashion house. If you tuned in last Tuesday, you were most likely immediately charmed by relative newcomer Erica Dasher who, as Jane, carries the show with upbeat ease and adorable enthusiasm. But while Jane’s success might at first be accidental, Erica’s is 100% deserved. This interview was conducted two days after the show’s premiere aired.
First off, congratulations on the premiere of your show on Tuesday!
Thank you so much!
It must feel so good now that everyone’s seen what you’ve been working on.
I was very nervous. Everyone was asking if I was excited — and I was — but I think I was also just happy to live in the potential phase. But now it’s a reality, and I’m really glad the response has been overwhelmingly positive!
Up until Jane By Design, you’d only done a handful of things professionally, like a show online for the WB?
Yeah, it was a web series. I went to USC School of Theatre, and the casting director for The Lake was at my senior showcase. It was my first real job out of school, so I was able to get my feet wet in a smaller space and made some great friends. It was a really great, positive experience, but it was on a much smaller scale than Jane is. I remember getting cast as Jane and thinking, “Oh my gosh, there’s going to be cranes and stages and hundreds of people!” I hadn’t really wrapped my head around that yet.
I assume Jane is a role thousands of girls would be after. What was the audition process like for something that’s so in demand?
I actually got the audition notice for Jane on my birthday, and I felt super connected to it for some reason from the very beginning. I did the pre-reading, and there was a period of time of waiting. Then I got a call back, and I met our show runner, April Blair, and our Executive Producer, Gavin Polone. I felt pretty good about it, but I didn’t hear anything for about two weeks. I was sitting in a cafe working on a script of my own one day being like, “I’m just going to create my own work!” and that’s when I got the call that I was testing for Jane. I’d never tested for anything before, and that’s, like, the last step before you get the part. I was so excited that I got the call I was testing that I didn’t see there was a step in the parking lot, and I fell over and broke my ankle out of excitement. I had to go to the test with this crazy boot on, and I filmed the whole pilot on a broken ankle. So it was a long process!
A good portion of the show revolves around fashion, naturally, and to me it kind of had a Sex and the City/Young Carrie Bradshaw vibe to it.
It’s funny, it sort of clicked halfway through because there’s a voice-over at the top and of course all the great clothes. I actually walked past a bus in New York about a month ago and saw myself on it, and I thought, “Oh my gosh! I feel just like Carrie Bradshaw!”
The whole fashion world — is that something you were interested in before this?
I’ve always sort of admired fashion from afar, so it’s been really fun to immerse myself in the world of it. Fashion, especially couture fashion, is like wearable art. It’s a really fun way to express yourself. I’m not on a medical show where I have to wear a lab coat. I get to wear a lot of pretty clothes and run around in heels, which looks cool, but it’s not! Very painful.
Now, I loved the show, but I found one small plot flaw. You and your co-star Nick Roux’s characters are supposed to be so unpopular, but you both are so charming!
Aw, thanks! When kids are in school who are outcasts, I feel like in some cases it’s a little bit by choice, you know? They don’t subscribe to all of the conforming that I think the popular kids do. I remember I was not very popular in high school. I had braces and frizzy hair — the whole thing. Jane is much better dressed than I was.
Jane By Design just started last week and already so much has gone down. Could give us any spoilers as to what we can all look forward to in the future?
I can tell you it only gets better. At one point we go to Paris. I think if you watched the pilot you already saw the majority of major situations starting to develop. There’s some male models coming up in a couple episodes! Some more good-looking guys to look forward to.
And there’s, like, no good-looking guys on this show, I mean, seriously.
Yeah, It’s really hard to go to work.
Erica and the scrumptious cast of Jane by Design
It looks painful. Now, I know you’re not just an actor — as you said, you’re a screenwriter — and you also made a documentary called Speak Easy?
I did! Although the name might change. We’re in post-production right now, and it’s currently being scored and animated. My best friend Sami Kriegstein and I took a year off from school, and we followed four different teams from four different states over the course of that year to their national speech and debate tournament. It was completely trial by fire and we had no idea what we were doing, but we ended up raising quite a lot of money and shooting it! We grew up doing speech and debate because we were big nerds, and we just couldn’t get away from it. We really feel like it shaped who we are today, so it’s sort of our love letter to the activity.
That sounds fantastic! Can we look forward to that any time soon?
I sure hope so! Yeah, it should be relatively soon, within the next few months.
So right now, you’ve got this huge show that just started, and I assume that will be taking up a lot of your time, but do you intend to work on other projects?
Yeah! My partner and I would really like to do a narrative film next, I think. We know so many talented people who were in the theatre and film schools, and it would be great to work with some of our friends. I think that’s how some of the best work is made.
How can Daily BR!NK readers contribute to your success — catch you on TV, keep up with you?
Twitter. I have a newly formed Twitter — I only have a thousand followers or something (two weeks after, that number has gone to over 4,000). And I should probably start a Facebook.
I really hope this is not creepy, but I was doing a little research before this and, actually, you do have a Facebook fan page…
I do? I have a Facebook fan page? Sweet! But I should probably start one of my own. But definitely Twitter. I keep up with it, I run it myself. And all of my cast mates are on Twitter and most of them are on Facebook as well! Other that that, watch the show! Watch it on DVR! Watch it more than once! Watch it on Hulu! Watch the movie when it comes out…
And while there may not be a movie yet, you can catch Jane By Design on ABC Family tonight at 9/8 c!