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5 Minutes With the Cast of Netflix's Dash & Lily

Midori Francis, Austin Abrams, Troy Iwata, and Dante Brown discuss the new YA romantic comedy series.

Netflix has debuted the new YA series Dash & Lily, created by Joe Tracz, the book writer behind Be More Chill and The Lightning Thief. Based on the novels by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, the eight-episode romantic comedy follows the adventures of the two title characters, played by Midori Francis and Austin Abrams, as they meet through a mysterious notebook left in the Strand Bookstore and then challenge each other to a series of dares across New York City at Christmastime. During a recent press event, Francis, Abrams, and costars Troy Iwata and Dante Brown, discussed bringing the show to the small screen.

Austin Abrams and Midori Francis
(© Netflix)

What interested you in the roles of Dash and Lily?
Austin Abrams: I liked the story. Dash has a lot of internal struggles going on, in terms of family and abandonment issues. There are a lot of layers to him, and I always welcome that.

Midori Francis: I was taking a break from auditioning, but my agent said, "You should check this out," and I was like "Darn it, she loves Christmas. I have to audition." But one of my audition sides was a scene in the Strand where Lily talks about how much she loves Franny and Zooey. She is such a verbose character. I go out for young women a lot and sometimes they're just supposed to cry or something. But Lily had so much to say.

Dante Brown and Austin Abrams
(© Netflix)

What was it like to film in New York during the holiday season?
Dante Brown: It was sick to be in New York when it was gearing up for the holidays and seeing the transition from Thanksgiving into Christmas. You could see people getting ready and coming out to shop. Even when I wasn't filming, I would just be in the city looking around and experiencing it. Even though I didn't get the snow part, I thought it was majestic.

Troy Iwata: We did have to add some fake snow. My character mostly spends time in his room, so I didn't get to go outside much. But being part of a holiday series that's set in New York is really special. New York at the holidays is something everyone imagines, and it's fun to be part of something like that.

Midori Francis and Troy Iwata
(© Alison Cohen Rosa/Netflix)

How did you develop the chemistry between your characters with such little screen time together?
Austin: We kept our own notebook and wrote things about ourselves to try and get to know one another. We attempted to recreate somewhat of a similar feeling of what's in the show and the benefits it had. Hopefully it had some.

Midori: I think it might have. There's something cool about the fact that I did get to know more about Austin based on what he'd say in our own red notebook. It was interesting.

Midori Francis
(© Alison Cohen Rosa/Netflix)

What do you want people to get out of watching the show now?
Midori: First of all, in terms of young adult content, there are a lot of shows that cover hard topics and pain. I'm very proud that what we're putting out there is pure joy and love. I feel really honored to be a small part of that. Especially for me as a woman, I hope that young girls that see themselves in Lily feel a bit comforted and more seen.

Austin: I do hope that it gives people some warmth and comfort, at the very least. The show was filmed a year ago, before the world was very different from how it is now.

Troy: Our show is a really great escape for people right now. There's a sense of nostalgia to it, because the holidays aren't gonna be the same this year. But our show also does a great job of representing a lot of people from different walks of life, cultures, and religions, and I hope that more people will feel seen. I hope our show takes a part in that step towards representation.

Dante: I just want people to take away that there's hope for the world to come back to where it can be. Right now, the kids in this age range are probably having problems dating, so maybe this could give them ideas and broaden their creativity, and give people a sense of love and warmth.

William Hill and Austin Abrams
(© Alison Cohen Rosa/Netflix)