Saw the film Dear White People? Ever heard of GLEE? Then you’re probably already familiar with the creative entrepreneur featured in our second DREAM JOB Interview of 2015. Ashley Blaine Featherson is a young and already accomplished actress from Washington, D.C., a product of Howard University, and a very faithful lady. Today she talks about how she relied on her faith in God (and a whole lotta talent) to get to where she is now.
Dream Job Interview //
Ashley Blaine Featherson
How did you get started in the performing arts? How did you know this is what you wanted to do?
My sister Nkena [was a huge] inspiration for me. She is nine years older than I am, so everything she did, I wanted to do. She was very active in the performing arts, and I wanted to follow in her footsteps. I also come from an extremely encouraging and supportive household. As soon as my parents noticed that I was passionate [for] and gifted in the arts, they put me in every class, camp, choir, and company/troupe you can think of. I never had an “ah ha” moment about being an actress; I believe I was born knowing my calling, and I’ve been working at my craft for as long as I’ve been able to walk and talk. I was in my first production at age four, and I started acting professionally at fourteen.
What were you doing before you became a full-time actress?
I’ve always been on the same path towards a career in the performing arts and entertainment industry. I moved to L.A. eight months after I obtained my Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) in Musical Theatre from Howard University. In those eight months prior to moving [to California], I worked as a leasing consultant to save money for my cross-country move.
How did you make the transition to entrepreneur?
I made my transition by taking a leap of faith. I moved to L.A. on February 1, 2010 and I worked countless jobs while still balancing my career and never missing an audition or opportunity. After a while I realized that too much time and energy was going into jobs that helped me survive, but didn’t feed me spiritually or get me any closer to my dreams. I was proud of myself for never losing sight of my [goals], but I knew that wasn’t the life I imagined for myself. I wanted to wake up everyday and be creative. I wanted to be an actress living her dream and have [a full] 24 hours a day to devote to that. So I quit my flexible & generously salaried “day job” in April 2013 and never looked back. It wasn’t easy, and there were many tears shed, but God provided for me, family and friends supported me and I’ve been a “full-time” actress ever since.
How did you support yourself financially in the beginning? How long was it before you started seeing a profit?
I funded my business by working countless jobs over the years to support myself. “Profit” is relative. Technically progress happens every day that I wake up more resilient than the day before and chase my dreams, but monetarily I would say it took me about four years to really feel as if majority of my living was coming from acting.
What do you love most about owning your own business?
EVERYTHING. I love planning my day for MY SELF…and not having to abide by a company “code of conduct” and clock in and out at the same time everyday. Owning my own business also has given me a greater appreciation of TIME.
What do you enjoy the least about owning your own business?
I’m an extremely organized person, so the lack of structure at times can be stressful, [although] that’s also what makes it fun. One day I’m at home binge watching ‘Homeland,’ the next day I get a call saying I have to hop on a plane that evening to shoot a film in Capri, Italy…you just never know! [But] it keeps me on my toes.
Was there ever a point when you wanted to give up?
Never. I attribute that to being extremely confident in my calling and purpose. I know without a doubt that I’m in the right business, on the right path & utilizing my God given gifts to the best of my ability. There’s no way I can fail. Sure there have been up’s and down’s and it hasn’t been a cake walk…but as soon as one door closes another one opens. Miracles happen every day!
How have you gotten the word out about your work? have you established your social media presence?
Organically. I never set out to increase my social medial “presence” or “visibility” as an actress. I did however set out to be a part of and create quality content, surround myself with successful and like-minded individuals, and always operate at a level of excellence and honesty. People gravitate towards other grounded and genuine people. That’s just how it works!
What’s a typical day like for you?
I wake up, eat a light breakfast, read my daily devotion from ‘Jesus Calling’, answer emails, blog, work on new ideas/concepts/brand expansion, go hiking, head to an audition or meeting, meet up with a friend for lunch, try to plug in an hour long nap (haha), attend an event in the evening.
What’s been the most amazing moment for you so far?
That’s hard to say; there have been so many! Especially in 2014! If I had to choose one it would be Guest-Starring on ‘Glee’. To some it may seem small, but for me it was God’s way of reminding me that prayers never go unanswered and that dreams come true. From the moment ‘Glee’ first aired, I told the universe, “I want to be on THAT show”. It obviously didn’t happen overnight, but it happened right when it was supposed to. I couldn’t have asked for better songs, scenes, choreography, actors, crew, and over all experience. Shooting in NYC under the Brooklyn Bridge was an experience I’ll never forget. I also gained two very close friends from working on that show: actresses Amber Riley & Dana Davis are great blessings and inspirations in my life.
What advice do you have for aspiring actresses?
Realize that YOU are your greatest asset. God made us uniquely, and we all serve a very specific purpose while here on earth. No one can steal your blessings, nor can you steal anyone else’s. It may not seem this way, but I promise there is enough work to go around for all of us. Be confident in your gifts, beauty, quirkiness, hair, skin, EVERYTHING, for if YOU don’t believe in YOU, how can you expect anyone else to?
That’s some of the best advice we’ve had on the blog. I want to thank Ashley for sharing her experiences and insight with us. To learn more about Ashley (and where you can find her on the big screen next!) visit her website: http://ashleyblainefeatherson.com/. And check out her blog, That’s So Ash!