By the end of this interview,
you’ll totally want
Dayeanne Hutton to be your BFF
Coming through your computer screen twice a week as the effervescent Harriet Smith on Emma Approved, you probably know Dayeanne (Say it like “Day-Anne”) Hutton as that little blond bubble of adorableness that shows up when Emma just hasn’t done enough meddling for the day.
Hutton’s take on Harriet is my favorite so far: a little ditzy but not dumb, a whole lot of sweet and just enough strength, and her longingly lovestruck scenes with James Brent Isaacs’ Bobby Martin are enough to make a fangirl’s knees audibly knock.
We here at Drunk Austen were lucky enough to score an interview with this up-and-coming bombshell actress, with totally-never-before-answered questions from our readers! Check it out below, and if you don’t think she’s even more awesome than you thought by the end of it… Well you never really ‘shipped #Marriet in the first place, now did you?
Hi Dayeanne! To start, tell us something fun that we don’t know about you!
Hello! Oh my goodness, something fun… well, hm, I’ve been riding horses since I was about 10 years old, and while I’m in no way a professional, I really love it. My mom and I own a horse close to where my parents live and he is my heart and soul!
So, you’re best known to our readers because of your role as Harriet Smith on Emma Approved, can you tell us about how you got that role?
Of course! Although I’m afraid my story isn’t nearly as exciting as the other actors. My manager got me the audition and I preceded to freak out. I was aware of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries through a friend (though I had no idea how huge it had become) and I love Jane Austen, so I was thrilled to get a chance at this opportunity. Not very long story even shorter, I auditioned, somehow got a callback and then booked the part!
Had you read any of Emma since starting this project? If so, has your perception of the story changed as you work on Emma Approved?
I’d never read Emma before, so when I got the audition, I ran to my giant Jane Austen book full of every complete novel of hers and began reading. I believe I finished it by the time I found out that I had gotten the part. I don’t really think my perception has changed much due to Emma Approved. I do get to create a bit more of Harriet due to her being more present in Emma Approved, which is really fun, but I didn’t dislike Emma at all while reading the book. I maybe hate James Elton a little more though. ; )
We kind of hate Elton too, no worries. The cast gets to spend a lot of time together, do you have any funny stories from the set?
Honestly, I don’t really think I do! We’re always so busy, but towards the end of shooting days I know Jo and I tend to get a little silly between takes. There may or may not be some pretty goofy footage of us making faces and doing funny accents…
I think the hashtags are amazing! It’s wonderful seeing the fans being so supportive and caring towards these characters. I think a lot of people can identify with the awkward, shy, and sometimes less than confident aspects of Harriet and Martin and so their “feels” grow that much stronger. If they happen to be opposites of them, they still can recognize the innocence there that Emma meddles with, and therefore the audience becomes protective and motherly (or fatherly) of them.
To expand on that, social media is a huuuuge part of Pemberley Digital’s product, having won an Emmy for it with The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Does this approach to fan interaction make a difference from other projects you’ve worked on?
It makes a huge difference! First off, I must say, this is my first “bigger” kind of project, which I am so very grateful for. Before this I was mostly doing student films and independent shorts. With the social media aspect of Pemberley Digital I suddenly have fans that really care about the work I’m doing and that blows my mind! Even more people follow Harriet than me, and I think that’s amazing. Having people interested in me the actor is one thing, but to have even more people interested in being a part of Harriet’s life is incredible.
Do you identify with Harriet on anything? Or with any other character?
Funny you should ask… I’ve mentioned this a few times, but Harriet and I… we’re close. I would say I’m about 75-80% Harriet in my everyday life. I’m very awkward. Very. I can also have confidence issues. The perfect way to put it might be that Harriet’s personality is the equivalent of mine from perhaps middle school through some of high school, only at the age I’m currently at now. Not to say that she isn’t mature! She’s mature in different ways, for instance…I’m terrible at researching things and admire her diligence. I do also identify with Annie, mostly her love of cooking/baking and fabulous style.
You actually play the ukulele, right?! Was that something Bernie Su wrote in for Harriet once they found out you could play, or was there always something in the script about an instrument?
I do! Bernie actually wrote that in upon discovering that I play the ukulele after our very first table read. He was talking about how he is very willing and open to utilizing actors other talents, for example: if they played the violin; and I piped up from across the table about how I played the ukulele, and the rest is history!
Speaking of: What’s Bernie Su and the writing staff like?
Bernie has a wonderful open door policy with all of us actors, and if we ever feel something doesn’t sound right for our characters to say, or have any other issues we are free to bring it to him and the writers and they listen and most often incorporate our changes as long as it doesn’t change some pivotal plot point or something.
So, coming on the heels of the massively successful Lizzie Bennet Diaries, do you think having a built-in audience who started with Emma Approved from the beginning (rather than growing with it, like with LBD) has shaped EA in a different way?
That’s a really interesting question. Obviously I don’t know the actual data, like viewership and who is new to EA and who came from LBD, but it definitely affected the start of the show. There was the build up of anticipation and we started with a base of fans that wouldn’t have been there otherwise, which was great. There is also some pressure from that, people wanting it to be more similar to LBD or comparing the shows, when they really are different stories and concepts. Of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion; we have fans both new and old enjoying the show and they’re just lovely!
What are you most proud of about this series?
I think bringing classic literature to life in new and creative ways for so many to access. I know that this is not something mutually exclusive to EA, but I am so proud to be a part of it. We let those who love the story already see it in a new light, bring it alive, and we introduce it to new viewers who have never read the book! That’s a beautiful thing.
What novel do you think the Pemberley Digital team should take on next? Austen or otherwise.
Oh wow, I honestly have no idea! A Shakespearean comedy would be pretty fun in a vlog format! They adapt (and loosely adapt) those for films all the time, but I’d love to see a vlog concept.
(Editor’s note: Bernie Su, if you’re reading this, PLEASE DO MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. That is all.)
Fans want to know: Who dresses you? Your clothes are always so adorable!
Thank you, I love them as much as you guys! That would be the lovely miss Jessica Snyder of Mint Clothing Company. She is the cutest and absolute best; you can find and follow her on twitter, tumblr and her own blog for Mint. 🙂
If Harriet were a liquor drink, what would she be? (Bonus points if there’s celery soda used in some way!)
Dirty Shirley Temple!!! (…with a side of celery soda?)
Favorite Book: All of them? Oh gosh, can I say Harry Potter? I need to read more haha
Your Style Inspiration: the 50s, Jag Lever, and bohemian vibes.
Favorite spot in L.A.: At the moment Griffith Park, for relaxation and the views.
Best Austen Adaption: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies! I kid I kid, I haven’t seen them all, but honestly LBD is pretty kickass, and I’m not just sucking up.
Darcy or Knightley? I’m quite honestly slowly switching over to team Knightley.
Celery soda or Icelandic yogurt? Icelandic Yogurt!
Emma or Pride and Prejudice? Pride and Prejudice, my first Austen 🙂
Phew! Okay, last question: Can you give us a hint for the future of Emma Approved?! We can’t wait to see what happens next!
Well, for anyone who has read the book, you know what happens plot wise. We still have a few new characters to introduce, and it’s always fun to see old ones come back. Things are about to get very interesting around the office ; )
Thanks for reading!!