Drop Dead Diva (premieres Sunday, July 9 at 9 pm/ET on Lifetime) is giving its viewers a twist on how beauty is defined. The premise is simple: A vapid, skinny-mini model is horrified when — after a wacky series of events — she winds up in the body of a brilliant, average-sized lawyer. TVGuide.com met up with Brooke Elliott, the show's star, to learn how one plays a character inside a character, what big-name guest stars will make an appearance and what "rare message" the show sends about self-acceptance.
TVGuide.com: How would you describe your dual role on Drop Dead Diva?
Brooke Elliott: Well, there are two characters. There's Deb — a tiny, thin, model who's vapid and self-obsessed. Then there's Jane — an average-sized woman and brilliant lawyer who's trying to become a partner but doesn't really have the self-esteem for it. Through a series of events, they both die at the same time. Deb refuses to accept she's dead, and is sent back — except in Jane's body. Now she has to live her life in this new body and new world and learn how to do that.
TVGuide.com: What's it like playing a character inside a character?
Elliott: It's fun and really challenging, which any actor would embrace. It just takes focus to think, "Where is Deb in this? Where is Jane in this? How much are Jane's characteristics playing a part in this particular scene?" You have to figure out which one dominates more at different times.
TVGuide.com: You guys have pretty big guest stars coming up including Paula Abdul, Liza Minnelli and Delta Burke playing. Who else can we expect?
Elliott: Rosie O'Donnell does two episodes as a judge and a mentor to Jane. I had known her from before, so it was great not only to have Rosie on the show, but a friend. Tim Gunn was on the show [playing himself], and we've had Sharon Lawrence as Deb's mother. There's also Jorja Fox, Elliot Gould, Teri Polo and Chuck Woolery. We've been super-lucky with all our guest stars.
TVGuide.com: How do you think this show will resonate with women?
Elliott: This show gets to send a rare message that every woman is beautiful no matter what her size. We're so conditioned to believe that beauty comes in one specific little package. We miss beauty left and right because it doesn't fit into what we're supposed to look like. The show is about self-acceptance and identity. And I don't know if there's anyone who can't really relate to struggling at some point to accept themselves.