In Freeform's newest holiday original movie Ghosting: The Spirit of Christmas, Aisha Dee's protagonist Jess commits an online dating sin: after a romantic trivia night first date with Ben (Kendrick Sampson), she disappears with nary a goodbye text to his "had a great time!" follow up. The catch is that it's not entirely her fault — while on her phone, she's involved in a car accident that kills her instantly.
Jess emerges back on earth as a ghost, still wearing her first-date clothes, and is left to figure out why she hasn't traveled onward, into death. No one can see her physical form, except the two people that matter most: her best friend and roommate Kara (Kimiko Glenn) and Ben himself, who had previously thought she was just ghosting him in the metaphorical sense. What follows is a wacky romantic comedy slash meditation on death, grief, and friendship, which isn't an easy feat for a holiday flick.
That's part of what attracted Aisha, who stars in The Bold Type as social media director and activist Kat Edison, to the project. When she first got the call from her team, she thought it sounded like a "sweet idea," but she was exhausted. It was just after she'd finished filming season 3 of The Bold Type. "We had done like 20 episodes that year and I was like, 'Oh, I think I just want to go home to Australia and lay on a beach for a while. I'm dead,'" she tells Teen Vogue. Then she read the script.
"It charmed me, and it made me laugh, and it made me cry," she says. "I felt like Jess was someone who I knew. She's such a free spirit and she has such a big heart and she's kind of easily distracted and not the best at kind of seeing things through. I really identify with [that]. So I was like, 'Okay, that's it. I have to do it. I'll kick myself if I don't.' And you know, some of my favorite movies of all time are Christmas movies. So then I was like, 'Let's go, b*tch. Let's f*cking do this.'"
Ahead of the Wednesday, Dec. 4 premiere of Ghosting on Freeform, Aisha talked with Teen Vogue about her surprising favorite holiday film, why Jess and Kara's friendship is so special, and how her own feelings about death have shifted. And below, check out an exclusive sneak peek from the movie:
TV: What are some of your favorite Christmas rom-coms?
AD: I don't know if this classifies as a Christmas movie, but I know in Australia, it came out at Christmas when I was a kid. It's the Brandy and Whitney Houston [version of] Cinderella. I mean look, it's not Christmas, but it's truly one of my favorite movies of all time. And I re-watch it every holiday. I also like The Grinch. It's not technically a rom-com, but to me it is a love story. It's two people finding one another and finding home in one another. Christmas is that time of year when you really just want to chill on the couch after eating too much food [and] get in your feelings.
TV: One of the cool things in the movie is how central Jess’s friendship with Kara is. It’s just as important as her romantic adventure.
AD: That was one of my favorite things about the movie because we spend our lives searching for meaning in things like, "Oh, when this happens, then I'll finally be happy. Or when I get this promotion I'll figure it out." And you realize, through Jess, that her soulmate has been there the whole time and she just had to acknowledge it. And I think that's a really beautiful lesson: to open your eyes and see the love that's right there in front of you.
TV: Some parts of this movie are so absurd and funny, like when she and Ben essentially go to ghost sex therapy. What was it like filming those moments that are very fantastical?
AD: Oh, I mean to me, that's the entire movie. That's what I was so excited about going into it, to live in this heightened world that still somehow feels so real. We took this whole montage of unfinished business and had so much fun riding around Venice on bicycles. I remember we spent an entire morning trying to figure out how we could make it look like I was riding a bicycle but not holding onto the handles or the foot pedal. At first, I thought it would be easy and then I was like, "Oh wait, I don't work out so I don't have any abdominal strength." I was falling all over the place, but we figured it out in the end.
TV: I feel like the movie almost treats death like a long-distance relationship. Did Ghosting make you think differently about dying?
AD: Oh, for sure. I know that it's supposed to be this light movie, but it really does get unexpectedly deep, and I did kind of find myself contemplating, you know, the point of existence and life itself. What does it all mean? It definitely sparks those things in you. But it also made me appreciate all of the things that are around me right now in this moment. I got better at, you know, calling my mom, FaceTiming my mom more often. We're living in perfection now. You know, if perfection doesn't exist, then perfection is this moment. And you have to take advantage of every moment that you are alive.
TV: I am obsessed with the blazer she wears the whole time in the film.
AD: My mustard coat?
AD: Initially, when I first came in for the very first reading I was like, "I really need a yellow coat." It just kind of felt like, you know, she'd be visible. At least we wouldn't miss her anywhere. I had this obsession with yellow coats and they tried on about 500 yellow coats and eventually settled on that one. You've got to make sure you’re wearing something cute in case you die today and you end up a ghost. You don't want to be a ghost in sweatpants. Come on. That's no fun.
TV: You’ve got a lot going on right now, because season 4 of The Bold Type is coming on January 23. Obviously Kat is at a really interesting spot at the end of the third season. Where is her head at romantically? Where is it at career-wise after her city council loss?
AD: We're going to get to see Kat deal with the fallout of everything that happened and try to find her footing again. I think romantically, what she said at the end of season 3 is that she needed some time on her own to work on herself, and that’s something that I've felt at certain points in my life for sure. So, we're going to get to see Kat focus on working on herself and growing personally and also in the workplace and figuring out how to channel her energy to be able to help people and to still be an activist and an organizer, even though she didn’t necessarily win the election.
TV: This season, you also got to film with Raven-Symoné. What was that like? Were you a That's So Raven fan?
AD: Dude, I lost my mind but when I found out. First of all, I was like, if I told the 12-year-old me that I would be working with Raven-Symoné, I might've just dropped dead. It's been awesome and she's such a sweetheart, so I didn't get my dreams crushed. You know, when you meet your childhood hero and they're awful? That would be heartbreaking. I also just think it's really cool that we're bringing in someone who's such a big part of the culture. I grew up watching her.
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Want more from Teen Vogue? Check this out: "The Bold Type" Stars Aisha Dee, Meghann Fahy, and Katie Stevens Talk What to Expect in Season 3
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue