E! News: The group of associates cast were so diverse in every way. This year, the fashion industry has had to reckon with its history of lack of inclusivity. Was that top of mind when this process began?Jenna Lyons: It was top of mind and, interestingly enough, we cast the show almost two years ago. I feel really proud of the fact that we made a concerted effort to make sure that we were really trying to share an opportunity with an audience so that anyone, any young girl or boy, could see that they could get there and that you didn’t have to look a certain way or be something special to be able to get access.
E!: What exact qualities did you want in the final associate selected?JL: I was looking for someone who is really passionate because you can train somebody to do pretty much anything, but what you can’t train and what you can’t give is passion and curiosity. So we were really looking for people who are excited, wanted it, are passionate and really into it. When you’re into something, you have a tendency to work hard and that’s all I really care about.
E!: Tell us about day one of filming. JL: We shot the pilot and then we came back and augmented the show. My first day of filming I had a total meltdown. The network was on site and I literally was in the hallway like, “I don’t know what I’m doing, how did this happen?” What I didn’t understand was we were trying to meld documentary and reality. There’s no pathway to that. We had two teams, a doc team and a reality team. We were trying to get them to work well together and with all the best intentions it fell apart. We were struggling. We ended up with a more reality based team and that left it up to me to really maintain a sense of integrity and be like, “Oh, well, I would never do that.” It was painstaking, however, I’m really proud and I feel like it does feel different than most reality shows out there.
E!: About halfway in we learn so much about your personal life. Were you expecting to share all that?JL: God no and I think I remember really early on one of the network executives saying to me, “Are you ready for this?” You can’t know until you’re in it. It’s a little bit like having a kid. You can’t foresee what’s coming down the pike, who they’re going to be. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. There were some really, really hard moments. I mean, there were tears and I’m not one to cry in general. But at the same time I enjoy when people are giving and generous and share because I do think it helps people connect. I let go at one point and was like fine, whatever, I’ll just let it happen.