Last week, ABC Family premiered a brand-new show, Jane by Design. The title character is a high school student who begins working as an executive assistant at a fashion company. The show’s debut was the #1 scripted show in its timeslot.
Get caught up with last week’s recap.
One of the stand-out stars of Jane by Design is obviously India de Beaufort, who plays India Jourdain, a ruthless villain within the company who will do whatever she can to take over the top job currently held by Jane’s boss.
India spoke with BuddyTV this week about the new show, what it’s like to play the villain, and her time on One Tree Hill. Below is our exclusive interview.
You’re in the new show, Jane by Design. And Jane is, as she puts it, a dateless, high school zero. She applies for an internship and there’s a mix-up and she’s hired as an executive assistant. It’s such a hilarious concept. Is that what attracted you to the show?
I think what really attracted me to the show was the dialogue. You read so many scripts, and the scripts for Jane felt easy. The flow was right. The writing felt different from so many scripts that I’ve read. I was really attracted to playing a character that I knew I wouldn’t have trouble getting the lines out. Because sometimes you read a script and you think, “Well, I’ll have to colloquialize that, or find a way to make that sound like I would say it.” But with Jane, the minute I started reading the script, I could imagine everybody and I could imagine the world and I could imagine the voices, and it wasn’t long before I was completely absorbed by it.
Your character is India Jourdain. She has the same first name as you. Is that a coincidence or done on purpose?
It wasn’t really a coincidence or done on purpose. When I booked the role, the character’s name was Amy Tanaka. And they decided that I didn’t really look like Ms. Tanaka, and so they started to look for new names. And [Executive Producer] Gavin Polone really liked my name and asked if they could use it. And I said, “Yeah, sure, no problem. Check with my mom.” My mom was fine, proud.
And then we started looking for a second name. And, obviously, my name is de Beaufort, which is French. And so they wanted to keep with my ancestry, and so we looked for another French name that they liked. And it was actually my mom who compiled a list of names that had been in my family or just French names that she thought were great-sounding French names. So she compiled that for me. I sent it to April Blair, the creator, and April picked Jourdain.
That’s great. So you guys had some input on that, so that’s good.
Yeah! We had a little input. And it’s the first time that’s ever happened. Usually, your character’s name is really set before you take the role and it doesn’t change. So it was really fun for me and my mom to have a little bit of input with India.
Your character, India, she’s an associate designer, directly beneath Gray at Donovan Decker. What’s it like playing the villain role? Is that fun to do?
It’s a lot of fun. I tend to land roles that are somewhat villainous for some reason. Usually, people blame it on the accent, but you can’t with this instance because I’m American [in this role]. So I clearly just send off bad vibes, which is a little bit worrying. But I’m hoping that it’s because I just have so much fun playing bad girl roles. Getting to say things that in life you would never ordinarily say, there’s something really liberating about that. It’s fun.
But I do find myself apologizing on a regular basis, especially if we have background actors who just come in for the day. And I’m yelling at them or pushing them out of the way. I always double-check beforehand if that’s okay, and make sure that they know that that’s not who I am. It’s just the character doing that.
But I’m hoping at some point to branch out into different roles. Because as much as I love playing the bad girl, I don’t want to be that forever. Nobody wants to play the same thing for the rest of their lives.
Andie MacDowell teases on what’s to come on Jane by Design.
Is it hard, because of the things you have to say, some of those kind of mean things you have to say, especially to someone like Jane? She’s such a nice and sweet person. Is that kind of hard to do sometimes?
Again, I find myself apologizing afterwards. They yell “Cut!” and I have to say sorry. But at the moment, I think, the more vicious I am, the sweeter and kinder she is. And the sweeter she is, the more vicious I am, so we play off each other. It’s the juxtaposition of the two roles, and without one, you’re kind of missing the other. We both know that it’s for the greater good and we have a ton of fun, and it’s always friends afterwards.
You’ve said that you’ve done these types of roles before, like on One Tree Hill. Since you’ve done this type of role before, do you think we’ll get to see India’s soft side eventually?
When I played Miranda on One Tree Hill, she had a lovely arc throughout the season. I shot 12 episodes of the 22 episode season. And I was there on the first episode and I think the second to last, so she really had time to develop and fall in love with another character. And you got to see both sides of her.
With India, it’s not a 12 episode arc. The show has been written to hopefully last for many, many years. And so I think it’s going to take a lot more time for that to come out. But throughout the season, I definitely made an effort. And I’m hoping that it comes across that she becomes the character you love to hate, more of a lovable villain rather than a villain that you can hate.
And she definitely goes through some troubles. And you get to see underneath the armor and a part of her vulnerability which, I think, without that she would just be one-dimensional and boring. I’m so happy with the writing, and that April and Johnny chose to develop the character in a way that would give a little bit, but still keep a lot back, which gives her more time to grow.
I think we all look forward to seeing that progression of her character. Now, India will obviously do anything to get Gray’s job. Can you tell us about any future sabotage plans she may have against Jane and Gray? Essentially, what can we expect from India next?
I can’t go into too much of the season because I don’t want to give it away. But episode 8 is a particularly vicious episode on India’s behalf. She does a particularly naughty thing in episode 8. Throughout the season, I think every episode that India’s in is an opportunity for her to be manipulative and the bad girl. She definitely achieves that but, unfortunately, she’s almost always thwarted.
The show is obviously very much focused on fashion. Are you into fashion yourself?
I’m such a huge fashion fan. I’m a big junker as well, so I’m into vintage fashion as much as I am into vintage homewares. I love flee markets and anything old. I love history. My new obsession at the moment is collecting Victorian jackets, which seems like a really strange thing to collect.
But I’ve been to some vintage expos and I found these beautiful vintage — well, antiques at this point — Victorian jackets that would’ve previously gone over corsets and big skirts, but now I wear them over jeans and over t-shirts. And the embroidery on them, and the workmanship, it’s just unbelievable. And when you see those kinds of pieces, it makes you realize how far we’ve come, now that we have so many mass-produced pieces of clothing. So I buy them because I appreciate them and I love them.
And I feel fortunate and blessed to wear them because I spent a lot of my childhood walking around museums. The Victoria and Albert Museum is one of my favorites, and they always had a great history of fashion exhibition. And I’ve only ever looked at them through glass. And when I started finding pieces that I could afford, under $100, that have that age and that history to them, I was just ecstatic.
So my wardrobe ranges from Victorian, a lot of ’50s and ’40s. I love a lot of reproduction shoes as well, because it’s hard to fit into vintage shoes because of the size. They’re very, very thin, and slender feet back in the day, and obviously we’ve grown now. There’s a great shop, actually, in LA called Remix on Beverly Blvd. that makes reproduction shoes from the ’20s and ’30s, all the way up to the ’50s, which I’m a big fan of. So I’d say my style is eclectic and hopefully chic. That’s what I’m striving for. And a mix of affordable bargains and the odd luxury item.
The premiere of Jane by Design was the #1 cable scripted show at 9pm. How exciting was that to hear that news?
It’s really exciting. I think when you’re making something, you’re just praying that people will watch and you’ll get to keep making it. Because we’re having so much fun on the project, that we need people to support us in order to keep having that fun. And especially being an actor, you never know where your next job is coming from. So it’s kind of nice to feel like there’s possibly some job security, but you never know. We won’t know until the whole series has aired and we can get a good feel for if we’re staying and how we did. But it’s great to come out of the gate in a positive way.
That’s great. I watched that first episode and I really enjoyed it, so I hope it continues to do well.
Good! I’m so glad. Make sure you tune in this Tuesday for the next one.
Yeah, I will. Now, you have an American accent on the show. Did you already know how to do an American accent or did you have to learn?
I already had been using it for years. It was a funny thing because I never actually studied an American accent. I never learned it. I never had anybody teach me how to do it. It just kind of happened. I think I probably spent a lot of my childhood in front of my mirror pretending to do Cornflake commercials like the kids I’ve seen on TV from America.
And I also had an American boyfriend when I was 17, and my boyfriend now is American. And I think that definitely rubs off on you. I was watching a lot of Friends and Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives because they’re big hits in England. So it kind of just came naturally, which has been a blessing because you can’t really — you’re very limited if you can only do one accent.
One final question here. Since we mentioned that you had worked on One Tree Hill, One Tree Hill is coming into its final season. What do you think about the show ending?
I’m sad. I’m really sad. But at the same time, I think it’s probably a natural, healthy time for the show to end. But you know, you never know. Even though it’s the final season, you never know what might come of it in the future, whether or not they’ll come back to it in some way. I’d like to hope that they would.
I recently did a Team True Beauty event. Team True Beauty is an organization set up by One Tree Hill fans, and they’re huge supporters of the show. And at the event, I got to meet a lot of the fans. And the fans always come out and represent. I’ve met a lot of them over the years, but I got to meet a lot of them at once in this past week. And to hear all of them talk about the show, and how the show’s affected them, and what they have taken from the show, and what a big part it’s been in their life.
I’m sad for them that there won’t be any more coming. I’m mostly sad for the fans because I know that it’s going to be a great loss for them because they’ve been such a cult following. And they alone have been what’s kept the show on the air for nine years. But I will be watching and I’m excited to see what happens.
And I’d like to think that Jane kind of rises from the ashes of One Tree Hill a little bit because we have Johnny Norris, who’s one of our co-executive producers and writers on our show. And he wrote eight seasons of One Tree Hill in the writer’s room with Mark Schwahn. It’s kind of nice that Johnny and I have a little bit of experience, have a One Tree Hill experience, together that we have definitely tried to carry into Jane by Design. The way that they are a family, and we’re trying to lead by example, and bring over a lot of what we learned from that production. So, I’m really happy about that. It doesn’t end for me. So I’m happy about that.
Well, I hope that the success that One Tree Hill had will be able to carry over to Jane by Design continuing here. So, thank you very much for taking the time out of your schedule to talk to me.
Oh, thank you so much! It was a pleasure.
Jane by Design airs tonight at 9pm on ABC Family.
(Image courtesy of ABC Family)
Photo AlbumJane by Design – 1.02 – “The Runway”