The office asked Ashley anything they wanted via Slack — these are her answers!
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Shocker! I wanted to be a professional ballet dancer for the longest time. That turned into an actress, veterinarian, nurse. I also wanted to be in an all-girl rock band when I was in the 6th grade. I thought it was the coolest thing. I wanted to be a drummer like Ringo Starr and got a practice pad and everything. I didn’t last long, lol.
Who was your favorite dance teacher and why?
I have two favorite dance teachers. Mr. Tuzer and Tiffanee Arnold. Mr. Tuzer was co-owner of the dance studio where I started my dance education seriously. He had a commanding presence, but not in a scary way, in a prestigious and confident way. He taught me what it was to be a ballet student at a young age- dedication, passion, effort, diligence. Come to class on time, hair in a bun, no skirts, no nail polish. I learned all of my dance foundation from that school. He was never specifically my dance teacher (I had his wife “audition” me in a room to see if I would be a good fit), but he ran all the rehearsals for the Nutcracker every year and was one of the main characters. It was always a big deal to be in the same room as him. Unfortunately, he died of pancreatic cancer about two years ago. He was very young, but he remained teaching his students until the very end. My other favorite dance teacher was Tiffanee Arnold, my college professor. I came to her after a two year dance hiatus from high school. I auditioned for the student company (after not being able to attend my dream school in San Fran due to finances) on a whim and got accepted. That started my modern dance career. She taught me how to love the floor, use gravity, use my pelvis and my abs to initiate movement. Nothing was stoic or rigid like ballet, but but into the floor and weighted. She taught me to use my breath to move my body and fill the space as I performed. She was and still is INSANELY talented at breaking down combinations to make them more understandable on a very minutiae driven level. She also took a chance on me when I didn’t necessary believe in myself and that made all the difference for me going forward in life.
If Weezy and Apollo (Ashley’s pugs) had their own movie, which celebrity actors would voice their characters?
I would have to say Danny Devito or Joe Pesci would voice Weezy- a mix of being out of breath, NY sass, and sloppiness. As for Apollo, I’m not sure. Frank Welker, the voice of Abu in Aladdin.
Who do you think you were in a past life?
I think I might have been a nun or monk, someone very regimented and kind. I often used to think I was someone that might have been alive in the 20s, 30s, 40s since I adore so many vintage things from fashion to movies to cars, etc. I often think I could have been something more in nature, like a tree or something in the ocean. After growing up away from the ocean and then living near it, I know I HAVE to be close to it to be happy.
What have you taken with your from all the places you’ve lived and what has always stayed true?
From Texas: nothing is impossible if you can withstand 100+ temperatures. I learned I could in fact run outside and do a bootcamp workout in 95 degrees and still come out the other side. From NY: Always look like you know where you are going and no one will question or bother you. It was a very fake it till you make it situation. I learned to put on a brave, smiling face whenever faced with adversity or not succeeding at something. It helped to not get too down about things (i.e. audition rejection). Every opportunity brings forth a new opportunity. From San Diego- you shouldn’t be proud of overworking yourself or moving at the speed of light. SD taught me to relax, enjoy things, and to appreciate the little things (like having a car, I traveled by bus mostly there and everything took about 2x as long. Not fun, but I learned my determination will overcome anything. Like riding my bike in the rain back from a grocery store because I had no car. I lived over a mile away. Uphill). Connecticut- Taught me that I hate driving. And though many people will ask you, “Why did you move HERE from SD?” I can confidently say it has taught me that beautiful things exist in packages that might not look like anything on the outside. Things that stay true: drivers are crazy everywhere. There is such a thing as southern hospitality. People in SD are not in a rush for anything. New Yorkers are a tough bunch. Overall, we all want the same things in life: happiness, health, family, love, etc. just in different forms. We all want to succeed.
What’s your theme song?
You Should be Dancing by the Bee Gees
What is your favorite physical medium to work with?
The body. I still feel the best when stretching, dancing, moving. I hate sitting for long periods of time if I can help it.
Moving, whether it’s walking or otherwise, brings me a lot of joy.
What would be the title of your first and last book?
First: Move Over
Last: Everything’s Amazing
Do you wish you lived in a different era or place? Why?
Yes! I often wished I lived in the 60s and 70s. I connect most with the activism, music, art, everything. Dance included. It was a time that many people wanted things to truly move them, to change and people were doing it. I also LOVE all the fashion and uniqueness that everyone showed off to the world. The COLORS!
What aspect of your personality are you most proud of?
Two. Empathy for others due to the fact that I lived below the poverty line in my life. It helped shape my view on money and who has/who doesn’t. Also, my talkative nature/performing nature. I am not afraid to talk with people that I do not know. I think it has given me confidence where I normally wouldn’t have any. It’s not necessarily fearlessness, but it allows me to connect with others and learn about their lives.
Do you believe in ghosts?
Sort of. I believe in energy. It is created, not destroyed. There were a lot of inexplicable things happening in my house/life for the year after my stepdad passed away.
If you could have one perfect pizza, what would it be?
It already exists: Mondo’s Truffle pizza. Fresh mozzarella, garlic cream, goat cheese, ricotta, red onion, pine nuts & truffle honey.
What lesson did you unexpectedly learn that you still cherish to this day?
#1: That there will always be someone better than you. It has humbled me to this day and keeps me grinding at things.
#2: You can’t always get what you want. The quote that I love most and inspired a lot of things for me: “There will come a time when you believe everything is finished; that will be the beginning.”
If you could change your first name, 1) would you and 2) what would you change it to?
At this time in my life, no, probably not. But long ago I did want to change it because my name is so common. I loved the name Gabrielle. I also like Gisele. I had one little girl tell me once that I looked like a Margaret — which is funny because that was my great grandmother’s name.
How has your knowledge of design helped you when working on content?
It’s made me FAR more aware of how much they go hand in hand. I had a hard time connecting those elements in college, but after dabbling in both in the real world, I know that you cannot have one without the other. Form always has to go with function. It’s a basic of art as well. You cannot simply design for fun, it has to have a purpose, whether that purpose is to evoke, persuade, inform, or show something.