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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
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
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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