Liz Gillies is no stranger to fashion, having worn a range of extravagant looks as Fallon Carrington on CW’s Dynasty. Now, the actress and singer is working with Express on their #ExpressReEntry social media project, encouraging others to dress up as the world reopens. We hopped on the phone with Liz to chat about the new initiative, her fave moments on the show, getting married during COVID-19 (!), and to ask whether she’ll return to Broadway in the future.
How did you get your start in acting and music?
It’s something that I have always wanted to do. I made that very clear at a young age, and I was lucky enough to have parents that went along with whatever I wanted to do, so they facilitated every kind of crazy idea! Every time I heard about a casting call, they would drive me, and I was really determined at a young age to be a part of this industry, no matter if it was musical theater, singing, or acting. I am really lucky that I had parents that supported me. At a very young age I just went for it—it’s what I always wanted.
Tell us about the #ExpressReEntry project, and how you became involved?
I’m really excited to be partnering with Express. It’s a very timely initiative, of course, surrounding reentry back into daily life. I feel like we’re all getting ready now, and we’re feeling more comfortable to reenter the world, and it’s no secret that all of us have been dressing down and we’ve been in our houses for the majority of the last year, if not more. So, it’s an exciting time to reenter new style and fashion back into our lives, and fall back in love with it. Express has so many wonderful styles—I chose my favorites for the three that I’m posting on my social media. I dress up every day at work, but I have been wearing mostly loungewear this last year. So, to get the opportunity to be stylish and fashionable and feel good and feel like a boss again when reentering the world, it’s been really nice.
You also got married last fall. Congratulations! You looked so elegant. What was your process like when choosing your wedding dress?
Thank you! You know, I tried on so many dresses, and I had already tried on so many dresses as Fallon for the show, because she’s been married or almost married so many times. Ironically, the same time I was looking for my wedding gown, Fallon was also about to get married before we shut down for COVID. So, both of us were looking for gowns at the same time. I tried on every designer gown you could think of. I tried on the whole spectrum of dresses, high to low. I ultimately went with a local Atlanta designer and I chose something very simple and elegant, because at the core, that’s kind of my personal taste. I was so happy with my decision, because I ended up cancelling my big wedding and having a really intimate wedding in the end. So, it fit perfectly. I sort of had my veil be my statement piece, and let the dress be very simple. Fallon’s dress, ironically, is very similar to my dress, because it was my backup—but her’s had too much cleavage for my little family wedding, so I let her have that one [Laughs].
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Obviously, we have to talk about Dynasty! What was it like being back on-set after filming paused for season 3 last year?
It was great. I mean, listen—it was great to be acting again, it was great to be back at work. Of course, it was a whole new world with all the protocols we had to follow and still have to follow. It’s an adjustment period. Also, none of us were hanging out after work, and everybody’s keeping their distance literally at work and outside of work, so that was all very challenging. This year was definitely more about the work than the play, as it was for all of us, but I think we pulled out a really tremendous season and the restrictions we had on our filming and on our script. I feel like the scripts went inward instead of outward. Instead of all these flashy parties, flashy moments, the scripts are more emotional, they’re more poignant, and I think that will be revealed as the season goes on. And we’re all really proud of ourselves for being able to work and create all these episodes during this time. It was really challenging, so I feel very lucky that I was able to do that.
All of the costumes on Dynasty are amazing, and you’ve worn so many glam outfits as Fallon Carrington! What are some of your favorite looks you’ve worn on the show?
I have so many! Somebody counted how many outfits I’ve worn on the show, and it’s well into the sort of high hundreds. But I have a couple that really stand out to me. I wore this sparkly green strapless dress from season 1, it was made of sequins, it was so fitted and so beautiful. I always come back to that one, but there have been many outfits that feel very iconic to me. Or, I fall in love with certain pairs of shoes that she’s worn many times, because the shoes we can re-wear a little bit. The pilot dress was pretty iconic too, that black and white dress. We were sort of paying tribute to the original Dynasty pilot there too.
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What have you learned about fashion from Fallon over the last several years?
I’ve learned so much. I was somebody who always, without fail, wore all black everywhere I went. I wanted to wear the darkest clothes possible, and I wanted to layer them on as much as possible. Fallon not only introduced me to color, but she introduced me to taking fashion risks. And working with our costume designers, particularly Meredith Markworth-Pollack, who is the one who kind of originated the show, she made me think outside of the box. She taught me above all else that fashion is not just about the designer you’re wearing. I know Fallon wears extravagantly expensive and high-end clothing, but we would mix them with bags we found at thrift stores, and we would mix them with lower pieces. And it’s really about the fit. It’s about what looks good on you. It’s not always about following trends, even on Dynasty. It’s about what make you feel good, what makes you feel confident, and what makes you feel most powerful.
How do you express yourself through your wardrobe, and who are your style inspirations?
My style inspirations have definitely changed over the years. But I think that’s what’s so great about fashion, in general—I think there should be kind of a timeline and a growth period. When I look back on pictures of myself when I was in my teens, all I wanted to do was dress like Angelina in the ’90s on red carpets. I just wanted to wear tank tops and leather pants, and jean jackets or leather jackets. Now I’m at a phase in my life where I want to be more fashion-forward. It goes back to what I just said, it’s about what works for me. I know what fits me, I know what looks good on me, I know what I feel comfortable in. I also just love that old Hollywood modernized glamour. I would wear silk pajamas with heels and gorgeous jewelry with a great blowout and makeup out to dinner any night of the week! I was born in the wrong era—I love all the styles from the 1950s and ’60s—that’s really my favorite.
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Your style isn’t the only thing that’s changed—you’ve also made the switch from acting and singing on Broadway to acting and singing on television. What was that transition like for you, and do your onscreen musical moments connect to your theater roots?
Well, I definitely started in musical theater, and I started singing before anything else. So I think it was a pretty natural transition to Nickelodeon, which was my next gig after Broadway, because there was still a certain elevated feeling to the acting. And when you’re on a sitcom like that, you do feel like you’re playing out to an audience sometimes. Dynasty is certainly no exception. I mean, our show is a bit arched, a bit campy—not a bit, our show is incredibly campy and it’s only gotten campier! But I think my Broadway training and my theater training has served me very well as far as work ethic, playing out to a room, and not being afraid to make bigger choices as if I were on a stage. Plus, they’re letting me sing, which has been really exciting.
Broadway’s reopening this September! Do you ever see yourself returning to the stage?
I hope so! I’m so glad that they’re reopening. It’s been such a hard year, and I can’t wait to not only go see shows, but hopefully—once I have enough time in my schedule—I would just absolutely love to return to Broadway. That’s where my love for all of this started. So, if they’ll have me back, I’m more than willing, and I’m very, very anxious to get back on stage. It’s who I am at my core. It’s something that’s absolutely on my to do list. So, I will do it eventually. I’ll force them to hire me, even if they don’t want to!
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We have to ask a Victorious question! What do you think Jade West would be doing right now, and how would she be handling quarantine?
It’s funny. I think Jade would not have a hard time staying at home, just like I didn’t have a hard time staying at home. She’s not out at the clubs every night. She has Beck, who she loves. Apparently, they have a baby—the fans have decided they have a baby. So I guess she’s busy at home with the baby? She’s probably doing lots of weird things and keeping busy with her hobbies and hanging out with Beck. I don’t think she’d mind this quarantine at all. She doesn’t like to be around a lot of people, and neither do I!
What are you looking forward to doing in the future?
I am actually about to direct my first episode. I’m very excited to enter that new chapter of my career. I’ve wanted to direct for a long time. I’ve been writing music. I just had a song that I released that I wrote for Fallon that was in the last episode that aired, Fallon and Liam’s wedding. Directing’s very exciting, and I hope to do a movie here and there. You know, just keeping busy, doing whatever I can. I’ve been lucky to be very busy over this past year, and I don’t intend to stop filling my schedule to the brim. I will sleep when I’m dead!