Published in the summer 2012 issue of MyLIFE magazine
She is 16 going on 17, but she already has a career in fashion design. She’s Jane Quimby in the ABC Family TV series “Jane By Design.” Beautiful, smart, funny, true to herself yet false in the world of fashion at the house of Donovan Decker, Jane’s age is what makes her unusual.
Perhaps it was the blouse with the red lips print she wore to the interview that got her the job.
Her other life is all about navigating high school, crushes, homework and family relationships (her brother is a teacher at the high school she attends).
Erica Dasher, an actress relatively new to television, plays Jane’s character. In a 2009 TheWB.com series titled “The Lake,” she portrayed Madison Drew in a story about families who vacation together. That same year she played a girlfriend in the short film “Chicken on a Pizza.” Also in 2009, along with a friend, she produced a documentary titled “Double Speak,” about the world of high school speech and debate.
Here are many more good things to know about this rising star:
MyLIFE: Getting to be the character Jane Quimby from the space of Erica Dasher was probably like following a yellow brick road. Was it?
Dasher: I grew up in Texas and waited to start auditioning professionally until I graduated from college [University of Southern California], so this whole world is relatively new for me. Acting has always been a large part of my life. I did musical theater and speech and debate growing up and studied theater in college, but none of that can prepare one for the job of being an actor. The publicity, the red carpets … it’s very foreign. I am starting to get used to it! It’s really a great privilege to work on this show. The cast is so passionate and positive. Everyone takes his or her craft very seriously. I learn from them every day.
MyLIFE: Season one of “Jane By Design” premiered in January to an estimated 1.6 million viewers, and there will be a second season this summer. How has—and will—Jane Quimby evolve from first to second season? Will she have a 17th birthday party?
Dasher: I have not seen any scripts! However, I have heard rumors about a birthday party episode, so we shall see. Jane certainly evolved over the course of the first season. She started to develop confidence at work, and that carried into her school life. And I am seeing that in my own life as well. Acting is my greatest passion, and it’s incredibly validating to be employed as an actor! I stand a little taller these days.
MyLIFE: Is it fun to evolve both yourself and your character? How much “play” do you experience in your own life and on the set?
Dasher: In terms of play, I think I strike a pretty fair balance when on hiatus. I write and read and watch tons of movies and do my best to stay creatively sharp, but I also have pretty awesome friends and spend a good deal of time with them. When we are shooting, my social life disappears, but it doesn’t matter because filming is such a rush and I have actually become great friends with my cast. It’s a sweet deal.
MyLIFE: What would you like your fans to know about Erica Dasher that they don’t already know?
Dasher: That I am so very grateful for their support!!! I love talking with fans on Twitter and reading their comments. I love meeting them. It fills me with such joy!
MyLIFE: What would you like fans of your character Jane to know about her that they don’t already know?
Dasher: I think the greatest thing about Jane is how determined she is to pursue her passions and how hard she works. She really makes an honest effort to take on the many challenges in her life, and I love her for it.
MyLIFE: What is the most outrageous costume you’ve ever worn in anything you’ve ever performed?
Dasher: In sixth grade I did a lip synch performance to “Men in Black” and wore one of my dad’s business suits. It was definitely outrageous.
MyLIFE: You produced a documentary film about kids who debate. What kinds of things did this experience teach you?
Dasher: I could write a book about the things I learned from this experience! Perhaps the most important thing I learned is that I love producing. I will continue to produce and act. I don’t think I could choose one over the other.
MyLIFE: You are loved and supported by many people. How do you demonstrate gratitude?
Dasher: What a question! I have an amazingly close relationship with my family. We talk every day, they visit the set, I fly home for my sister’s plays and performances, we Skype all the time. I am indebted to them all for their unadulterated support. I would do anything to keep them healthy and happy.
Through her role as Jane, Dasher is fashioning a new definition for the word “ingénue.” Ingénues, such as Maria in “Westside Story,” or Sandy in the musical “Grease,” were gentle, sweet, vulnerable and naïve. Dasher keeps that sweetness but combines it with a savvy that is clued-in and fresh. Both on set and in real life, this actress seeks truth and embraces honesty like a dress cut on the bias seeks a curve.
“Jane By Design” is produced by Gavin Polone, John Ziffren and April Blair, and stars Erica Dasher and Andie MacDowell. Watch full episodes free at abcfamily.go.com/shows/jane-by-design, or check your local listings.