A youth’s struggle with self-discovery may never peak as much as it does during the grueling four years of high school. While average high schoolers may find their weakness in juggling their AP classes and ski club priorities, Jane Quimby (played by Erica Dasher) discovers a new level of stress, surviving her life as both a student and a personal assistant to a high- designer on the ABC Family hit series Jane by Design.
As a young actor, Dasher is still learning about herself through her role and the day-to-day challenges of her progressing career. While auditioning, Dasher found that her personality fit the role of Jane perfectly and she felt she would excel as the awkward, wide-eyed assistant for an intimidatingly superior designer.
When Dasher received the call from producers, she was sitting in a café, trying her best to stay composed. “I was so excited, but I didn’t realize I was being really loud on the phone, so I walked outside of the café, and I didn’t realize there was a step down into the parking lot,” Dasher says, “and I ended up breaking my ankle from the fall, so I went into the casting call with a boot.”
During the show, Jane’s brother becomes a guardian for her, and reminds Dasher of her own role as an older sister. “I have a younger sister who is now 11 years old, and it’s both a nightmare and a fantasy,” Dasher says. “Since my parents still live in Texas, my sister will get to come stay with me in New York a lot of times,” Dasher explains.
Although focused on her fashion career, Jane Quimby still has to find ways to maneuver around the drama of high school. Like her character, Dasher understands the concept of gossipy girls, but has always tried her best to avoid that routine. “I was not popular in high school and the girls could be awful, but I didn’t have enough friends to be catty,” Dasher recalls. “I’m so glad I went to USC. I have a great network of friends, and I can’t imagine being here without that.”
For Dasher, playing Jane became more than just a role. Dasher has learned more about her own interests from the fashion world after being so exposed to it. “The show created more of an interest for me in the fashion world,” Dasher says. “I took art classes, sketching, and now I’m really coming at it from a different angle.”
Andie Mcdowell (who plays Gray Chandler Marray on the show) encouraged her further into the industry, bringing fashion-themed books from Europe and into the hands of Ms. Dasher herself. “Fashion can be so beautiful,” Dasher says.
On the show, Jane struggles with a constant and elaborate balancing act of juggling two separate lives. “I think this is just my generation,” Dasher says. “I was always doing 400 things but for my own enjoyment,” she explains. Especially now with her younger sister, Dasher noted that there is a “crazy pressure” for her to be the best of all things.
The chance of finding a high-paying job after college (let alone in high school) is becoming a rockier journey for students. Dasher has a bit of advice for students going through the process. “Put your eggs in a lot of baskets. I produced a documentary, interned, hosted for a bar downtown–I did as many things that I could. Sometimes it’s tough,” she says, “but I feel like while you’re young, why not?”