You may remember, just a few weeks ago, we raved about Freeform’s latest summer TV series, The Bold Type. Without getting too much into detail (since you could check out our pilot review or the responses below), the show is a must see for anyone who craves a bit of Sex in the City meets Devil Wears Prada meets Ugly Betty.
The show itself has been getting so much buzz on the internet, we can’t agree more. We’ve fallen in love with the three leading characters and the others… such as Ryan Decker, aka Pinstripe Guy, aka the other half of Janestripe. We had a chance to chat with the star himself, Dan Jeannotte, who gave us the 411 on how he became an actor, some really good advice about pursuing a career in entertainment, and even leaves us all hope for the future of Janestripe!
The Young Folks: For our readers who are just getting to know you, how did acting come about for you? When did you decide this would be the career path you’d follow?
Dan Jeannotte: I’ve always been fascinated by storytelling, and from a very early age I knew I wanted to work in the creation of fictional worlds, in some way. At first I thought I would be an author — I read tons of books and wrote stories at a precociously young age. Then in my teenage years, I fell in love with cinema — I thought I wanted to be a director. When I was in college, thanks to the encouragement of a friend, I tried out improv comedy for the first time, and got involved in dramatic theatre as well. Improvising on stage was, for me, the eureka moment. It combined my overactive imagination with a satisfying narrative structure and a really exciting connection with other people — the people I was performing with, as well as the people in the audience. It was thrilling. I thought to myself, “This is something I could do.” And I went for it.
Knowing that the industry is pretty much jumping in feet first without knowing where you’ll land, how did you remain so determined and level headed when it is a difficult industry to be involved in?
It’s true, it’s a difficult career – it’s unpredictable, it’s not straightforward, it’s hard to catch a break, and you never really know if and when you’ll work next. So I guess it helps that I’m an essentially optimistic person! I did some hitchhiking in my younger years. I crossed most of Canada that way, a couple of times. When you’re hitchhiking, you’re putting your faith in other people – you’re trusting that someone, eventually, will pick you up, and bring you some small part of the way towards your destination. Every time I was standing on the side of the road with my thumb out, and a car or truck actually slowed down and pulled over to give me a ride, I was always surprised, and I was always grateful. Although I had no idea what would happen next, in the end, I always got to where I wanted to go.
I think of this career, being an actor, in a similar light. I’m putting myself out there. I’m asking people to give me a chance. I can’t really predict what my next job will be, what the next part of my journey will be. But I trust that there will be a next part. Every time I’m offered a role in something, I’m always a little bit surprised, and very grateful. I guess it’s a question of staying grounded, staying realistic, and being flexible. Having a destination in mind, and hoping for the best, but not expecting too much. And always being ready for your plans to change. Even being ready for your destination to change!
For anyone who is confused on whether or not to pursue a career in acting, what advice would you give them?
Something that actors say about the business: if you have a fallback plan, you will fall back on it. This should be the only career you’re pursuing, the only career you really want. Not to be discouraging about it – but realistically, it’s a very challenging life path. It’s difficult in so many ways. You really have to want it. I’ve heard it put this way: if there’s anything else you think you’d be happy doing, do that instead.
If you do think you want it, then you need to have thick skin – you can’t be too sensitive, you can’t take things too personally. Because, essentially, an actor’s job revolves around rejection. You’re constantly trying out for roles, and you don’t get 19 out of 20 of those roles. You need to make peace with that rejection, and you need to realize that it doesn’t reflect on your own worth.
Finally, if you’re going to head into this business, get smart about your money. Admittedly this is not something I’ve learned until recently – my wife has helped me become much more financially thoughtful, bless her. I would’ve had some much less stressful years, back when I was starting out, if I’d listened to my own advice.
With so many different opportunities under your belt from voice work to television to stage work, what’s your biggest takeaway?
Whether we’re talking about a TV series or video games or improv comedy shows, the idea is the same – people need stories. We need stories to help us understand other people, and to help us understand ourselves. We need stories to help us forget, to make us laugh, to expand our hearts and minds. I feel so fortunate to be working in this business of storytelling. And I just want to keep on telling stories that people can relate to, stories that can shed a light on our world. Or just stories that make people laugh their heads off!
Moving onto The Bold Type… For our readers who have yet to watch the show but may know you from your previous work, why should they start watching The Bold Type?
The Bold Type is a show for right now, for this current moment in time. It’s about three friends, all strong smart young women, who are making their way through a world that is not always friendly towards young women – but they’re doing with humor and hope and style. The show deals with all kinds of current issues, but it’s all so funny and fast-paced that it never feels heavy. At the center of it is this incredible friendship between the three main characters – the writers of the show have referred to it as “friendship porn”, because we all wish we could have friends this fantastic! The show puts across fantastic messages about women supporting one another, and about how capable and determined the millennial generation is – really positive messages that I think are important to put out there, because we know there’s enough negativity in the public discourse right now.
Plus the show is great to look at. It takes place in New York City, the outfits are super cool, and the actresses are all lovely. And there’s some great male eye candy – Sam Page and Matt Ward are two very handsome dudes!
How would you describe your character Ryan Decker, aka Pinstripe Guy?
He’s a writer for an Esquire-style men’s magazine, who writes a sex and relationships column. He’s a confident guy, with a healthy ego, but at the same time he’s not entirely self-centered. He’s emotionally aware, and he has a lot of respect for strong women, like Jane. He tries to be an honest and straightforward person, and he’s very upfront about the fact that he enjoys dating multiple people, without getting too serious with any of them. But I think the audience will see that he’s getting tired of playing around, and he’s actually more drawn to the idea of commitment than he lets on.
What parts of Dan Jeannotte did you bring into Ryan?
Whereas the character was initially written as a very cool guy, a bit aloof maybe, I brought some of my own warmth to him. I made him a bit more down to earth, I think. And I definitely made him goofier, a bit sillier. I’m not good at being cool.
Without giving too much away, what can Janestripe shippers expect to see in upcoming episodes?
Well, in last week’s episode, Jane broke up with Ryan. It was sad, but the fact was she was doing the right thing. She was honoring herself, doing what she needed to do to take care of herself. The heartbreaking thing for me was that Ryan doesn’t go after her, he doesn’t fight for her, even though he wants to. Jane has the impression that Ryan is a guy who can’t or won’t be monogamous, and Ryan kind of goes along with that impression – even though (in my mind) he’s actually thinking to himself “Am I really that kind of guy? Is that truly who I want to be?”
Even though they’ve broken up, this won’t be the last we’ll see of Ryan. Later in the season, Jane and Ryan find themselves unexpectedly stuck together for a few hours (along with Sutton and Alex). It’s a great episode – we see them enjoying each other’s company, speaking honestly with each other, without the pressure of a relationship making them hold back. And the fact is, they can’t deny their chemistry, the true connection they have. If anyone is shipping Janestripe (and I know I am), don’t worry: the spark is still alive.