Actress Midori Francis on Her Netflix Series Dash & Lily

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

I’m sure this year is going to be a little different, which is quite sad, but we usually go to my paternal grandparents, my grandmother Midori who I was named after, and we have Christmas there. Then we go down The Garden State Parkway to my aunt’s house with my other grandma and my Japanese side of the family. We have Italian, Irish, and Japanese people all together and we sing Christmas carols every year. My aunt is a pianist and as her wine stain grows, we all get a little bit looser and it always ends in “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John and maybe “Thunder Road” by Bruce Springsteen. 

That’s perfect because Lily is a caroler as well!

I was so nervous. I was like, “I’m not a good enough singer,” but Rachel Cohn, who wrote the books, talked to me one day and was like, “You know actually that part was based on my aunt, and my aunt actually is not a great singer. She doesn’t even know all the words, she’s just very confident and loud.” And I was like, “All right, I can sing out.” 

Despite Dash & Lily being this whirlwind love story, you and Austin Abrams, who plays Dash, don’t actually have very many scenes together. How did you develop that chemistry and what were some of your favorite moments on set together?

I adore that guy very much. Last night we had a full press junket together and then we FacedTimed afterward just to debrief. He is a true friend of mine. Maybe not the first time I met him because we were just acting, but the second time at the table read, I knew that it was going to be good. Austin, like me, is very cerebral. He loves to overthink everything. We would sometimes go to a bar or a café and just talk about the script and share our ideas, and we would talk to the writers together. It was so collaborative. One of the things he proposed to me quite early on, which was so sweet, was he was like, “Hey, what if we have our own red notebook?” Austin, he is very thoughtful and reserved, he’s not very demonstrative, which I admire about him, and so for him to propose… that was a big deal. I was like, “Wow, thank you for taking the first move here and making me go out of my comfort zone.” He got a red notebook that was the same as [in the show] and we would take it for a few days at a time. When he was done filming, he would put it in my trailer, and then I would sneak it into his. I had to convince the production assistants that I was allowed to go into his trailer. It was a bit dare-y, but it was more about revealing things to each other. It was a great idea because ultimately, we shared some more personal things with each other and I think that allowed us to build some trust. I was talking to him about this last night, but when we finally got to meet in person and act, it was so much fun because we had talked so much and built this relationship. I usually think chemistry is just loving something about someone, but just knowing that they revealed something to you that they might not want everyone to know and that they trusted you with that and then you trust them with something, it creates this kind of intimacy that is palpable on screen—or I hope it is.