Interview with Andie MacDowell of "Jane by Design" on ABC Family - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Andie MacDowell

Interview with Andie MacDowell of "Jane by Design"on ABC Family 12/19/11

ABC Familyís Q&A Session with Andie MacDowell Ė Jane By Design

Moderator In your own career, what have you learned after working with people like your character Gray Chandler?

A. MacDowell The thing of it is that I think if Gray were a man people probably wouldnít judge her so harshly. They were used to having men being this powerful and this strong. You might think he was a jerk too though. Thatís true.

But I have learned from working with a lot of women that have to fight for their position. I think a lot of times sheís justified in her behavior, and then a lot of times she crosses over a little bit.

Iíve met some pretty wild people in my life. I started in the fashion business, and Iíve been working in an industry where you meet all kinds of people. So I have a lot of resources I would say from my historical time in life.

Moderator Based on what youíve seen as an actress, at a high level, what do you think it takes to be a good executive assistant?

A. MacDowell Well I think what you expect, a lot of times, is for them to be able to think for themselves, to read your mind almost, to know you well enough to make the decisions that you would make. You expect a lot. I mean really obviously you canít expect anybody to read your mind, but thatís sort of almost what people start to want. After a certain amount of time, you want someone that knows how you think and knows what you want; you donít have to tell them.

Moderator What was it about this particular role that made you decide to come to television?

A. MacDowell Well honestly I think television is just a great place to be. I think there used to be this sort of idea that film was the most prestigious thing to do. I believe that that has shifted a lot, and thereís great work to be found on TV.

I just feel really fortunate that Iíve found a place that I feel like I have something to offer. Thatís important to me, to feel like I may have something unique to offer to a character that hopefully would have some kind of longevity and you could bring something to the table.

The writing is really good. Thatís fun. You canít do good work without great writing. You canít make a bad script a good script. Itís impossible. So the writing is just fantastic, and I think the idea is a really good idea. Itís a very appealing idea.

Moderator When you began working with the cast, did you find there was chemistry right away or did you guys have to spend some time gelling with each other?

A. MacDowell For me, it felt like I was walking into a place where each one of these kids, they know how lucky they are. You know the environmentís harder now. The worldís a difficult place right now, and finding workówhen you find a job and you find a job thatís good, youíre ready to work. And thatís really the feeling I got from all of these kids. Thereís nothingótheyíre just very ambitious, hard working, focused, and really gifted and talented. So thatís the kind of energy I felt when I walked in.

And they were already just sort of just in the groove I would say. Here I am the seasoned actor. Iím supposed to know everything, and it was a little bit intimidating, I have to say, because they were all so good. But on the other hand, when you work with people that are really good, it makes you good. So I feel like Iím in great company.

Moderator Did you look into anything or anyone in particular for inspiration for the character of Gray?

Moderator I started off in the fashion business, and I worked with a lot of really great fashion editors. Sheís not a fashion editor, but she is within that sort of same realm of industry. I worked with some really incredible, very powerful, very strong fashion editors. There was one in particular that sort of discovered me in way, whose name was Polly Mellen. So Polly was part of my inspiration, and then I worked a lot with Grace who is very quiet. She wouldnít be acting like Gray, but Iím hoping there are elements, because there is something very female and lovely about her.

So I would hope that I could have some of those elements at some time, because I think anytime a character is just oneóyou canít be just hard. You have to be soft and tender too somewhere because thatís only real and I donít think anybody is all hard. And then a bunch of other people that I know that are just really strong women.

Moderator How do you feel about comparisons made between a show like ďJane by Design,Ē and The Devil Wears Prada, for example?

A. MacDowell I just think thatís an easy comparison. So if you want to tell somebody what itís likeóbecause Iíve even used it, to tell you the truth. If you want to explain it to somebody in a nutshell kind of what the show is, you can say, ďItís not really this, but itís kind of like that.Ē And thatís the truth. Itís not really that. Itís only kind of like it.

So itís not exactly that story by any means. Thereís much more to it because she has the whole high school life going on, and that is really an important part of the story. Thatís one of the most powerful things of the story is being able to see the difference between these two worlds, and that wasnít at all in The Devil Wears Prada.

So you can compare it to it because it is about an assistant and a boss and it is the fashion world. So those are really the main similarities.

Moderator Would you say that you became a part of this project in part because of the message it has for young women?

A. MacDowell I would like to think that thatís why I did it. I have to be honest, when I saw what the message was I was already attached, but I was like, ďYes, this is good. Iím really glad that thatís what theyíre saying,Ē because I have daughters.

Actually, I have a daughter that is modeling and going to high school, which is so funny because itís a lot like Jane. Sheís a kid and I want her to be a kid and I want her to treasure her years in high school. So Iím having to reiterate that to her all the time. And then here paralleled, at the same time, Iím working on a show that is exactly that same story, which I find fascinating that that happened. That life is like that.

Moderator ABC Family often times has young people teach important life lessons to more experienced adults. I am curious, how do you see that theme come into play on ďJane by Design?Ē

A. MacDowell Wow, thatís a good question. I hadnít really thought about that. I mean that is something I think about all the time because Iím learning stuff from my kids constantly. I think maybe within different things that happen in the show, we can always see great lessons. Is that what youíre asking? Iím trying to answer your question. What does Jane do that could teach us lessons? Is that what youíre saying basically?

Moderator Yes.

A. MacDowell Well I think she can probably make us laugh at our human foibles, the things that we do that are really silly and make us look at ourselves too. The things that we expect of kids and we expect of ourselves sometimes are not always the healthiest, and to be able to treasure the good things. I think a lot of times we make too many sacrifices for work and we donít pay attention enough to the things that we should be paying attention to. Thatís probably why Gray doesnít have anybody in her life. So thereís an answer.

Moderator Who or what inspired your personal fashion style?

A. MacDowell My personal fashion styleóI think itís my nature probably more than anything. I just go with things that I like my personal self. The things that make me feel warm and comfortable. Iím really into boots. I like jeans. I donít know, Iím kind of a country girl, but yet I can also enjoy dressing up because I think I was exposed to certain things in the fashion world.

I come from a small town and I grew up very simply so I think thereís a piece of me that will always be that. But Iíve been exposed to high fashion so thereís also going to be that piece as well.

Moderator What is a typical day like on the set of ďJane by Design?Ē

A. MacDowell Fast. Itís very fast. We work really hard. The writers and the producers donít have a life. They were there all the time. The kids are just great. Theyíre gifted and talented and smart and funny and they gave me such amazing energy. Watching Erica work was reallyóI canít tell you how good she is. The kidís great. And they all know how lucky they are. You can just see it. Rowly was really wonderful and even helpful to me. They were just sweet.

Weíd hang out in tiny little trailers. Eatóthey have nice food but we donít have very long to eat. Weíre changing hair really fast. Weíre getting dressed really fast and weíre running back into the set. Working late at night sometimes, which is really hard when youíre my age. Having to remember your lines at midnight. But it was all fun. It was a lot of fun.

Moderator What does Gray see in Jane? What is the special thing that not only makes her hire Jane but to connect and keep her around?

A. MacDowell I think she sees that sheís got great style, and maybe she sees a little bit of herself when she was younger, the capacity to think quick, and then something in her that is trustworthy.

Moderator How have the fashion elements enhanced the show either for you personally or for the quality of the show overall?

A. MacDowell I think the setís beautiful, and I think the clothes are beautiful. Itís fun to go to work everyday and put on amazing Alexander McQueen and Gucci and Vivienne Westwood. Itís a lot of fun. Ö was sort of deja vu of how I started out. I played so many mommy characters that didnít wear anything nice, and itís a lot of fun to play this particular character because I enjoy getting dressed up every day and going to work.

And Erica looks amazing, really fun. I think that the kids are really going toóthe young people are going to love just seeing how sheís dressed. And India too, they look great.

Moderator Areyou planning on doing any more films with your daughter?

A. MacDowell I hope so, but weíll just have to wait and see. At this moment, we donít have any plans. I hope her career takes off on her own. Thatís what I really hope.

Moderator Did you film a lot or do you have any projects coming up when itís done filming?

A. MacDowell Iím getting ready to work on something. Iím not going to talk about it yet, but Iím getting ready to work on something. Weíre looking for other good things, but itís hard. I donít want to do just anything so Iím being patient.

Moderator Itís always been a pleasure to see anything that youíve been in.

A. MacDowell Thank you. Itís not always easy when you get older. You have to be patient, I think. Thereís loads of work. Thereís a lot more work because itís a very youth oriented business and so I canít take it too personal.

Moderator Jane has to think quickly on her feet to keep up this charade of a dual life. I was wondering if you could tell us about a scene maybe in the first couple of episodes where maybe that happens or something funny where she was trying to cover up her tracks?

A. MacDowell The first couple of episodesóIím trying to rack my brain. Youíre asking a 53-year-old to remember something. Well I know she was like running between the show and having to get in between school and the show.

When she had the date, that one was really cute. Where she was trying to go the prom and trying to work at the same time and trying to change her clothes in between the two and really trying to exist as a teenager and have this treasured moment but she had to work.

I think that was a pretty compelling setup for a teenager. To see her having to deal with both of those, the sacrifice that she was making to work. And thatís interesting, you know, to think of a child having to make those kinds of sacrifices.

Moderator What is it that you admire most about your character on the show?

A. MacDowell For me, itís finding the opportunity to find humor within the ridiculous attitude that she has towards her work. Itís just classic. There are so many people out there like that that are highly demanding. Theyíre all about the work. Thereís just nothing else in their life. They expect everybody else to be that, and itís just accepted that thatís the way the world runs. I guess that would be it for me, and finding the humor in that.

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