On Lifetime’s new series Drop Dead Diva (premieres tonight at 9 p.m. ET), superficial model Deb (Brooke D’Orsay) dies and her soul returns to Earth in the plus-size body of brilliant attorney Jane, played by Broadway vet Brooke Elliott. As “Jane’s” internal brains vs. beauty battle rages, the winner is clearly Elliott, who effortlessly embodies both. Watch the preview below, then find out three other reasons we’re already fans of Elliott…

• She was a member of the Chicago-based theater company Babes with Blades, whose productions showcase the strength, vitality, and proficiency of women in the art of stage combat. “The show I did with them, they took a scene from The Miracle Worker, a scene from Heathers, and a scene from Robin Hood,” she says. “In Robin Hood, I did quarterstaff fighting. In Heathers, we did all hand-to-hand, so it’s punching, Aikido rolls, and hair-pulling, of course. And they created a brilliant fight for the dinner table scene in The Miracle Worker. It was so fantastic.” Will we get to see her using that skill set on Drop Dead Diva? “I don’t get to do my stage combat, although I’ll talk to [creator] Josh Berman about it, because I would love to,” she says.

She’s appropriately giddy when naming the guest stars who’ve already lined up to be on her show. “I love Delta Burke! I just did a scene with Liza Minnelli, and I was like [sings] I’m in a scene with Liza!” Burke and Minnelli play a pair of psychic sisters. Rosie O’Donnell, who gave Elliott her Broadway debut when she produced the Boy George musical Taboo, will recur as a judge.Other guests include Tim Gunn,Nia Vardalos, Kathy Najimy,Teri Polo, Jorja Fox, Chuck Woolery, Sharon Lawrence, Mark Moses, Diedrich Bader, and Paula Abdul (who appears in a midseason dream sequence in which Elliott shows off her singing voice). “The list is truly mind-boggling,” Elliott says. “I feel like it’s a testament to the worth of this show, that it’s a message that they also want to get out. At first glance, it focuses on the weight aspect of Deb trying to settle into Jane’s body and dealing with how differently she’s treated and how differently she feels about herself, but that’s only one aspect of self-acceptance. This show is so much more. It’s something that everyone can relate to.”

• She’s as crazy as we are when it comes to The Bachelorette. We found this out when she stopped by our office last Wednesday. “I didn’t see it Monday! I didn’t see it Monday! So don’t tell me what happened! I didn’t see it! It’s DVR’d! Ohmygod, did something big happen? Oh god, I can’t handle it! Ugh! Oh, don’t tell me! Don’t tell me!” She’s less embarrassed to admit that she’s a fan of The Office, 30 Rock, Grey’s Anatomy, The Biggest Loser and American Idol. “I did Wicked with Adam Lambert, so I was a big pusher for Adam this season,” she says. “I was like, Right, that’s Adam’s voice, and yet, at the exact same time, I was like, He’s unreal. I already know how he sings, but it gets me every time.”

Drop Dead Diva
  • TV Show