Naturally, we were curious about the model who's claim to fame is getting tons of Likes, retweets and reblogs (on one of our favorite Tumblrs of all time). Ashley phoned in from her hometown of Miami to talk to us about making mainstream moves (namely, her small part in Kanye West and Jay-Z's "Otis" music video), building her career without an agency and, of course, the weirdo requests she gets on the web.
How did you break into modeling? I think with all models, everybody, especially family and friends, tells them they should do it. [Laughs.] I put pictures up online and a week later, Wilhelmina in Miami contacted me. I moved down there from Orlando, so that's how I got started. That was a year and a half ago.
Was it something that had crossed your mind before or did it spark when people started telling you? It wasn't really that serious until my boyfriend was like, "You're going to be amazing if you put yourself out there." The plan was to go to open calls and stuff, but they contacted me immediately. I never really thought about it. I was young, so I wasn't sure what I wanted to be yet.
How'd you get to be featured in Kanye West’s and Jay-Z’s “Otis” music video? It wasn't through my agency or anything. They actually contacted me on my Facebook. [Laughs.] It wasn't my personal Facebook, it was my modeling Facebook. I thought it was a joke at first, 'cause a lot people contact you with nonsense. It was two days before the shoot so I had to make a decision that night.
Was it a no-brainer? Actually, no, because I hadn't done anything big yet and I don't want to be categorized. I don't want everybody to be hitting me up for videos now. They couldn't tell me exactly what I would be doing, so I was really iffy about it. I didn't want to be a music video girl. I just made sure there was no dancing and that I'm gonna be a model in the video. It was a surprise when I showed up there and that's what I was doing.
So what is it about video modeling that you're not into? It's not that I wouldn't do videos because to this day I get offers. Just in everything you do, you want to make sure—for me especially because I know that I'm not the typical video model body—you don't cut out any other opportunities. It's not that I wouldn't do videos 'cause I would work with anybody who is reputable, you know? I'll do it as long as I'm comfortable with the concept. Obviously, working with artists like Jay-Z and Kanye West wouldn't be looked at in a bad way. It's not something that I'm against at all. I'm just really picky about what I do and what I put my name on.
Would it have been different for you if you had to dance around in skimpy clothes in the “Otis” video? I wouldn't have done it if I had to do that because I still want to be looked at as a model and not a dancer. I definitely wouldn't have done it.
You left Wilhelmina a while ago and decided to manage yourself. Are you still independent? Yeah, I'm not with anybody. I have good relationships with people who refer me and book me through myself. So it's kind like—unless it's IMG—is it worth it for me to be with an agency? I do work with a lot of managers and people who book me directly and an agency's another percentage out of my paycheck. Everything has to go through an agency once you're signed, so I couldn't do anything. I'm indecisive at this point if I should or if I should wait for the best offer.
Do you have to deal with haters? I don't pay attention to what people say. When people are famous and people are talking badly about what they're doing, they're still sitting there successful. They're making their own money, they're independent, they're owning their own business—the opportunity that comes out of it is way more than the negative that comes out of it.And I'm not doing this alone. Some people think that I'm just all over the Internet by myself. I work with a lot of people and I have a team. We're not doing it in a tacky way.
Are there any other common misconceptions about you that people bring up? The good thing about having a lot of social media is that I can really talk to people. People see that, "Wow, you're really humble and down to earth. You're not stuck up." That's one of the good things because I don't think that people get to talk to models. It's very much another world to people and I think the fact that I do talk back and I answer if they have a question is relatable and let's people see who I am.
Is it true that you're a big hip hop fan? What do you keep on rotation these days? [Laughs.] That's really funny because I think people wouldn't expect that. Maybe they would because everyone is so into hip-hop right now, but nothing I don't listen to anything particular. Besides country music and rock, I really like eclectic music. I'm more of a Frank Ocean and Drake fan. I like the harder stuff, but I'm definitely a girl when it comes to that.
Like you said, with agencies, there's competition with other girls to book jobs. Is competition still something you keep in mind? I stay up on what's going on. I have a lot of friends who are with agencies and I'm really the only one who does it this way. Does it motivate me? Yeah, definitely. Everything that's going on in the modeling world and fashion world motivates me. I feel like I have to work harder. I am marketing myself and putting myself out there.
What kind of projects do you have going on right now? We're talking to a few big publications and negotiating with some brands that I can't really say yet. But stay tuned! [Laughs.] A lot of things this summer. This summer will be big.
What's a typical day for you? It depends on the season. [Laughs.] Really! Right now, I'm really preparing for summer and something people might not think about is how much work it takes to run everything. Answering e-mails, sending pictures, doing fittings and all of that—it's a lot. I don't think people know how much I have going on and how many people I'm dealing with everyday. No matter what I'm doing, it cannot just be relaxing. It has to get done. I'm busy all the time and I feel like it never stops, which is why I'm working with so many people now. It got overwhelming.I have a team of a few people, but people that I really trust. I work with an Internet marketer and a graphic designer for all of my pages. I don't know how to do any of that stuff. [Laughs.] I think that's one more thing people don't really know—what I'm doing, what I'm writing and the pictures I'm putting up—it's all planned out.