Her work in Julia was so powerful that I had to get her to answer a few questions. This girl from the Human Centipede is definitely one to watch out for. I hope she get recognized as the amazing actor that she is.
1. Hello Ashley, you were outstanding and scorching in Julia, can you guide us through your early life and eventual breakthrough in Hollywood.
" I was just very active and always had to find something to release my energy and found it in acting. "
Thank you very much! I grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia and began acting when I was about 10 years old. I had a lot of wild, crazy creative energy at home and my mother saw this and decided to take me to some local theater auditions. I ended up loving it and got cast in almost everything I auditioned for. I did a lot of acting, singing and dancing growing up as well as hiking and mountaineering expeditions with Outward Bound. I was just very active and always had to find something to release my energy and found it in acting. Eventually my dream as a young girl was to be on Broadway. When I outgrew my home town, I moved to NYC to go to acting school (The American Academy of Dramatic Arts) Through that process I learned how much more I enjoyed the act of filmmaking and being a film actor. My dream of Broadway soon fell away. After graduating school I started auditioning and soon landed The Human Centipede. But at the time I didn't have an agent or any film experience. I booked it all on my own and fell into something that I had no idea would change my life. The film got a lot of recognition and I gained a certain kind of celebrity in the horror world, which did open a lot of doors for me. But it wasn't until I did JULIA last year, even though classified as a horror/thriller, the character I play really shows the depth of me as an actress. When the film comes out in the states this year I'm excited to see what kind of breakthrough it will give me.
2. You roles in the human centipede and Julia were both very challenging, especially when one remembers previous actors like Heath Ledger (Joker) and Camille Keaton (I spit on your grave) struggling to cope with the trauma of playing the roles. Camille reportedly said she felt like being actually raped. How did you cope with the brutality and intensity of the roles you got and the movies on the whole?
When you let yourself really go all the way with a character you really do take a part of them with you, it's inevitable. I thrive on challenge. I actually love putting myself into dangerous, thrilling situations. Whether it be climbing steep mountains in Scotland, sea kayaking in the Bahamas surrounded by sharks, being a part of unique controversial social and political awareness plays and movies, I just throw myself in and commit fully, in a way to know and understand what that feels like but also to get to know myself through those situations and what I'm fully capable of. The role in THC was pretty challenging and physically and emotionally draining. I had to go to some very dark places within myself to produce what I did. But I think what I took away from that the most was the intimacy of filmmaking and what it means to make it all small and to convey everything without saying a word, which ultimately helped a whole lot with my character in JULIA actually. Julia doesn't speak very much in the film, and when she did it almost felt wrong. The film is actually not about the rape. It's about a girl on a dark journey of awakening. I gained a certain internal power from doing this role. There was actually a lot of her in me already, but I learned a lot from her journey and what it means to really awaken into your highest most self. For me, acting is a practice of being in that zone of ultimate presence in every moment. The director took me to a very deep place where I was able to pull out a piece of myself that I never knew existed. I learned a lot about myself through this role which is something I hope to have in every role I dive into. To be able to pull yourself out of a victim mindset and move forward to gain control back into your life like Julia, is what I took away with me. I remind myself again and again of this healthy internal power that I always have within me but sometimes fail to bring into my everyday way of Being. It was a very intense shoot that I hope to experience again and again.
3. In your journey so far what has been the most difficult time for you regarding your career in Hollywood?
In this industry actors deal with a lot of rejection. I think the most difficult time has been this past year transitioning from NYC to Hollywood, understanding the reality of the industry, who I am in it and how I want people to perceive me. Ultimately trying to stay true to who I am and staying strong through all the "No's". I have no idea what the breakout will be or when. The journey continues and honestly I feel that I've done really well so far, winning 5 awards for my most recent role is definitely a breakout in the right direction. I know I have to just keep the faith, stay strong and if the tactics I'm using to get ahead stop working, then I have to change the way I go about it. But so far so good.
4. Does a casting couch exist in Hollywood?
It definitely does exist but I do not and never will partake. Unfortunately some do and I've heard true stories of some actresses that I actually really like, that that's how they got ahead, really is disappointing. But to each his own.
5. Which up coming projects excite you, please give us an elaborate detail of each one you want to discuss?
I am very excited for Julia's release this year in theaters/VOD.. It'll be very cool when the world finally gets to see it.
I am in the early stages of collaborating with an award winning writer to create a unique film and leading role for myself in the exciting world of Sci Fi/Fantasy. But it's in the very early stages so that's all I can say right now.
I am also in touch with a director and an Australian writing team who've written a big and exciting creature feature/thriller. But because it's also in the beginning stages I can't say more than that.
6. On what do you spend the most: clothes, accessories, perfumes, underwear, or anything else?
Well I used to have a big shopping addiction. I love fashion and have my own style, but I actually don't spend a lot of money on clothes. As I've grown I've realized how material things don't mean anything to me anymore and I'd rather spend money on something that feeds the bigger picture of why I'm here in LA.
7. Where do you think you will be after 25 years?
Oh god I have no clue. I'd rather not think about that. Barely coping with the uncertainty of tomorrow!
8. Describe yourself in three words?
A Goddamn Amazonian Queen. (That's one word)
9. Who, in your opinion, are the most overrated actor and actress in the industry?
I've worked very hard to get where I am and some don't have to. But I know that the hard work makes me a better actor and it's disappointing sometimes to see actresses who become stars that just have absolutely no depth and you wonder how they got into the Spotlight. Clearly not from the talent. At the end of the day I'd rather be known for my hard work and talent and not my hot body or what celebrity I'm dating.
10. What is your dream role?
I'm interested in strong leading characters. I don't dream about any one role in particular. I'd just like to do good work and hope that the role is juicy enough for me to dive into and have fun.
11. What do you enjoy more, writing or acting?
Acting. Though I love writing poetry and stream of consciousness-get it all out of my head-type of writing.
9I think my body of work speaks for itself in terms of seeing myself as a serious actor. I am not one to try and get ahead by flaunting my "hot body". I am always active whether it be hiking, yoga, dancing or running but not just to have a nice body, it makes me feel good and confident and also releases blocked energy. Exercising saves my life.
13. Do you believe in flaunting it if you have it?
I believe that if you are in your power and being yourself in its highest form you won't have to flaunt anything. You will naturally attract people to you by doing absolutely nothing. Anything other than that reeks of desperation.
14. What's the best compliment you have ever received?
You look so much prettier without makeup.
15. What's the meanest thing or harshest criticism you have ever heard about yourself?
"She's good but she's not THAT good." I won't name who said that to me, cause they might read this, but I was around 16 or 17 when I overheard that, so at the time it was very profound and has stuck with me to this day. I was starring as Anne Frank on stage and remember being extremely proud of my work in it. I thought it to be the cruelest thing you could say about someone who is trying to build themselves up with confidence enough to really try and make it as an actress. After a while I realized that it was their own insecurity of themselves that made them say or think that and so I forgive it.
16. Who would you want to kiss on screen if you could choose anyone?
Oh gosh, I dunno..I mean I think about certain scenes in movies that completely blew me away and would love to create something as intoxicating. Ryan gosling. Drive. Elevator scene when in slow mo he leans into her and they have this heart pounding earth shattering long passionate kiss. Just out of this world.
17. Your message to the world and your fans?
Feel the fear and do it anyway. Thank you for all your love and support!!
18. A few words about thefilmguide.net
Thanks for thinking of me for your site.