‘Sense & Sensibility’ Star on Hallmark’s Refreshing & Diverse Take on the Classic Story: ‘It’s Really Special’ (Exclusive)

Image Credit: Hallmark Channel

Hallmark Channel continues to celebrate the work of Jane Austen with an adaptation of Sense and Sensilibity, premiering February 24. The network is making incredible strides with its diverse cast. Deborah Ayorinde stars as Elinor Dashwood in the film, alongside Bethany Antonia as Marianne. Hollywood Life spoke exclusively with Deborah about stepping into such an iconic role and being a part of this creatively refreshing chapter for Hallmark.

“It’s really special, and kudos to them for kind of putting their money where their mouth is and really not only doing something that is just diverse and inclusive, but also it makes sense,” Deborah told Hollywood Life during the Television Critics Association winter press tour. “It’s historically accurate, right? It kind of makes sense for you to be like, well, why not? Why hadn’t we had things like this? I look forward to the day where it kind of becomes the norm, but it feels very, very special because little girls who look like me can see us and be like, why can’t I do that? Why can’t I be that? Why can’t I imagine myself that way?”

Elinor’s slow burn romance with Edward, played by Dan Jeannotte, has been at the center of any Sense and Sensibility adapation. “We built a really good rapport,” Deborah said about Dan. “As an actress, he made me feel very safe. When you’re playing roles with people where you’re in intimate relationships with people, you do have to feel safe. You have to be able to look them in their eyes, so he’s just a really, really good actor. He just made room and space for those scenes to be as beautiful and authentic as they could. He was very supportive as well.”

Deborah Ayorinde with her ‘Sense and Sensibility’ co-stars. (Hallmark Channel)

While Elinor and Edward’s relationship builds over time, Deborah had to jump right into the the world of Sense and Sensibility and get acquainted very quickly with the character.  “We didn’t have that much time to do a slow burn. We shot this in 15 days, which is unheard of,” Deborah revealed. “But pats on our back that we did it, and we did it well. For me, my process even with other roles, is just kind of understanding the character, getting in the character’s head, knowing what they’re feeling, what the journey is, and going from there and just letting it all hang out. That was really helpful. The fact that hair and makeup and costumes was on job, I didn’t have to worry about any of that.”

Deborah relished Elinor’s costumes, which were designed by Kara Saun. The exquisite and colorful looks only enrich this gorgeous adaptation. “When you put on those clothes, you wear the hair and the makeup, you’re not yourself. You’re this person,” Deborah said. “I remember when I went into my test, I saw myself and felt like this is just so different from anything I’ve done. The costumes just made it that much more real, and Kara Saun did such a great job in such a short amount of time.”

The ‘Sense and Sensibility’ crew at TCA. ( Corey Nickols/Getty Images)

And the costumes are a crucial aspect of the storytelling process. “She was very intentional,” Deborah said about Kara’s vision. “She told me that Elinor’s color scheme is going to be this and this is why. She wanted her colors to be more like the lavenders, the light blues, all of that, just to kind of bring that peace and that order, whereas Marianne’s colors are more vibrant and passionate. They were just all very true to each character.”

One thing Deborah didn’t have to worry about with these Regency-era costumes: corsets. “I was a little bit worried about that because I didn’t know much about this specific period,” the actress noted. “In my mind, I was thinking that we would have to wear really tight clothes to kind of look like you’re binding your waist. That was not the case, which I was so grateful for. We could kind of breathe a little bit. But I will also say, and this is also a shout-out to Kara Saun, women weren’t as free and loose in their fashion as we are now, but she also kept our comfort and made sure that we didn’t feel restricted in movement. She kept it in mind as well. Even though something might not be period appropriate, she still was like, ‘You need a little bit of inch right here? You’re going to get it.’ We never felt restricted. Our performance came first, and that was something that just felt like a big collaboration, to be honest, which is really helpful.”

Sourse: hollywoodlife.com

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