‘Romance in Style’: Jaicy Elliot on Ella’s Confidence & Her Mistake About Derek

Jaicy Elliot in Romance in Style
Thomas Fricke/Crown Media

Grey’s Anatomy star Jaicy Elliot trades scrubs for gorgeous designs with Hallmark’s body positivity rom-com Romance in Style, premiering on August 13.

“It’s very different. It’s kind of cool because it was a first for them in terms of what they wanted to do with the theme of the movie and we had a lot of fun making it into its own little side Hallmark project,” Elliot, who hopes to see more movies like it and do more with Hallmark, tells TV Insider.

In the film, Elliot stars as confident and passionate aspiring plus-size fashion designer Ella opposite Benjamin Hollingsworth (Virgin River), whose handsome and disarming Derek, the “Prince of Publishing,” is set to take over the high-profile fashion magazine business where she freelances. When he enlists her to show him the ropes, she schools him on the areas of fashion that are overlooked, and, of course, they fall in love.

Elliot tells us more about Romance in Style.

What appealed to you about the movie and the role of Ella?

Jaicy Elliot: Ella’s such an awesome character to live with. She’s a force of nature and she’s so set in her mission to liberate women through her inclusive fashion that she’s working on. That was a really nice energy to be around all the time because it’s a very positive and uplifting kind of version of myself that I have to bring forward. And then the movie, I love that it opens up with her working on her craft rather than looking for love. Love comes as a cherry on top of the cake sort of situation but the main focus is her and her own growth, which I think is very exciting to see on a Hallmark movie.

And the film is matter-of-fact about the body positivity message.

Yeah, it was nice that it wasn’t like we were trying to support Ella as she was on her own journey to discover herself. I feel like that was sort of done prior to the movie. We find her in her self-confident, full, unapologetic version. And it was nice to pick the movie up from that point and just see her as she’s carrying that into the world, rather than as she’s discovering that for herself. That difference is it’s not that we’re discussing whether or not body positivity is a thing, it’s that we’re discussing how to implement it in our society. And it’s an easy way to just see it. It’s fun. It’s non-confrontational.

Benjamin Hollingsworth, Jaicy Elliot in Romance in Style

Thomas Fricke/Crown Media

Speaking of that confidence, she’s very confident in her and Derek’s meet-ugly. What’s her first impression of him?

When she meets Derek, he kind of stands for everything that Ella thinks of in terms of the sort of jock-y, kind of superficial, entitled, rich, elite New Yorker. In a way, it’s funny because she’s all about accepting people for who they are on the inside and her initial response to Derek is a snap judgment that she makes on him based on how they meet. She kind of locks him into this prejudice of a personality that he turns out to kind of break down and she finally meets him as himself later on. I think the mistake plays a role in her also opening herself up a little more and that blossoms into a very real connection that they have together. So it’s a nice contrast.

What do you think will make viewers fall in love with their relationship?

I think their disagreement is very sweet. We live in a world today where we’re always being faced with everyone’s opinions and it’s hard sometimes to see that at the end of the day, we’re all just trying our best. It’s nice that they meet and they dislike each other at first and they overcome their differences and learn from each other and grow together. It’s sort of a beautiful, organic, very human relationship that we see unfolding in front of us.

Jaicy Elliot in Romance in Style

Thomas Fricke/Crown Media

Talk about Ella’s career because I love her designs and we see the connections that she has.

Yeah. It’s funny because obviously, the fashion is a big part of the movie and we were very lucky to work with Quita Alfred, who was the wardrobe designer, and she came up — with her team — with 21 outfits for 14 days of shooting. So it was the first time that I had heard of such an intense wardrobe focus. We worked together on creating the Ella Original look. It was really important for me to grasp who she was and it’s all very full of colors and patterns and it’s flattering and comfortable and it’s everything that Ella is from the core out. And we wanted it to be also very accessible, so we made sure to include the patterns and the fabrics multiple times and in different kind of ways throughout the movie. It made for a very honest and very real kind of approach to what starting out as a fashion designer can be like in New York.

You mentioned accessibility — I like how her designs are affordable, too. She’s thought of every aspect.

Yeah. She has this theory she calls the IFFF. It’s inspiration, fit, fabrics and financials. And I think it’s true that we see a lot of high fashion and it’s so inaccessible and it’s not comfortable and it’s something to aspire to, which a lot of people believe is what high fashion should be, but her whole concept is that we just need to feel beautiful, and then everything kind of falls into it. And if the money, if the affordability comes in the way of that, then we’re missing the point of the message that she’s trying to get through.

I liked Ella and her friend Katie’s (Connie Manfredi) relationship. How do those two support each other?

I think they’re very much like your chosen family. Connie Manfredi is such a wonderful firecracker of a human being. I love her so much. And from the first Instagram message that we sent each other to yesterday, we were texting, it’s been such a huge pleasure to get to know her and work with her and Ella and Katie’s relationship was fed by that. It’s funny, because when we shot the movie, the message and the feeling of what we were going for in the script really kind of intoxicated us and it kind of seeped into our relationships in the movie and everybody was so supportive of everyone and Katie and Ella ended up being this really powerhouse of a friendship and like sisters. They’re very important to each other because both their careers and their relationships kind of are born out of this powerful bond that they have.

And you can really feel that from their first scene together.

Yeah, and their apartment and their designs and they confide in each other. Ella comes in with this assurance of everything that she’s been through in her past relationships and she’s so set in her ways as to she’s so stubborn and knowing what she wants and how she’s going to get it. And Katie is a very important mirror for Ella to just look into and she calls her out on a few walls that she’s built up around herself because it’s so tough to be — body positivity is not something that’s easily acquired, especially in the society we live in today. And so she is there to remind Ella that she can be vulnerable even though she’s on a journey to fight for this new vision of the world.

Romance in Style, Movie Premiere, Saturday, August 13, 8/7c, Hallmark Channel