ashleyeverett

Behind The Video: Ashley Everett Recaps Nearly A Decade's Worth Of Beyoncé Music Videos

Beyhive, prepare to get your life.

Ashley Everett is more than just Beyoncé's backup dancer, she's her leading lady. Whenever you see Mrs. Carter on stage, Ashley is usually on her left-hand side, slaying the scene with a vengeance.

SEE ALSO: Vixen Chat: Beyonce’s Dancer Ashley Everett Breaks Down ‘Secretive’ Process Behind Visual Album

At just the age of 17, Everett ditched the renowned Juilliard School to obtain full-on baddie status by two-stepping alongside Bey for her first worldwide concert tour, The Beyoncé Experience. "I was like just give it your all and live in the moment, perform and have fun," she told Vixen.

For the past eight years, Ashley's versatile dance skills and signature red hair has become a signature part of Beyoncé's brand as her official dance captain.

Here, the fiery-haired beauty gives us an exclusive play-by-play on nearly a decade's worth of Beyoncé's music videos from her POV. Beyhive, prepare to get your life. –Ashley Monaé

1. Green Light (2007)

Was this your first music video with Beyoncé?
Both “Green Light” and “Get Me Bodied” were actually shot in the same year, but yes, "Green Light" was first.

How did you get the gig?
I was living in New York and training at Alvin Ailey at the time and it was just a big open call, like the talk of the town. This was around November or December of 2006 and so it was freezing. Since it was an open call, basically anybody and their mama could go, which was crazy. Everybody did come, of course, because they just wanted to try and see [Beyoncé]. They didn't even dance but I really went because my mom was like, 'Just do it.' She's all about going on auditions and still is. She's always like, 'You never know, just do it. It's a good experience,' even if I don't happen to book it. Some of my friends were going so I went. I ended up cutting the line and still sitting and waiting for three hours. I auditioned and a few months prior, I had met her choreographer and her at Alvin Ailey when she was rehearsing for an awards show so when I auditioned, I saw them again and the choreographer [Frank Gatson] recognized me. He's like my family now–my dad in the business and my mentor. He remembered me being at Alvin Ailey and he kept me throughout the day. Beyoncé came and saw me. It was like fate.

What was your initial reaction after being chosen?
I was like, 'Just give it your all and live in the moment, perform and have fun.' You know, I didn't really have high expectations or anything. I was 17 and just living in the moment really.

Were those stiletto ballet shoes real or just props?
No, they were real. It was really hard for us to straighten our knees. They hurt so badly. I'm a dancer and did point work and stuff, but some of the other dancers didn't and had never been on point before. Beyoncé is no point dancer or ballerina so I was in shock that they were all tough and hanging in there because it even hurt me to fully straighten my legs–they were so arched. We couldn't do anything. When they would say cut in between takes people would have to run in with chairs and we would sit down and just wait. We couldn't walk but you could crawl. (Laughs)

2. Single Ladies (2008)

What comes to mind when you think of this video?
I guess what comes to mind is what everyone else thinks of it and how iconic it became. It's like the "Thriller" of that time. It's just insane because we worked on it for weeks, not knowing what was going to become of it, but knowing that it would probably be a hit but not really knowing the impact it would have on music and dance. It's just iconic. I feel grateful to have been a part of it.

3. Ego (Remix) (Feat. Kanye West) (2009)

In 2009, you went from a brunette to the signature red-head we know today, but from the video, you can't tell since it's shot in black and white. Why the drastic change?
I had dark red hair. Since the video is in black and white, you couldn't really tell but my hair wasn't that signature fiery red that everyone identifies me with. As time went on, it got lighter. I was definitely nervous. That's why I dyed it a dark red first. I'm naturally a brunette and the only thing I had done with my hair, color-wise, were a few highlights. I was inspired by a white friend whose hair was red and at the time, black girls with red hair weren't really popular, but I wanted to do something different and give myself a new look. Beyoncé was the one that asked me would I go brighter and I was immediately like, "Yes!" I wanted it brighter, anyway. I just needed that extra push.

Were those sequined outfits a Mama Knowles production?
Oh wow. I can't remember but what I can say is those jumpsuits gave me tiny little cuts all over so much so that when I began to sweat, it stung, (Laughs) Our shoes were so uncomfortable, too. They hurt so bad. We would take the shoes off and our feet would swell to the point that it was just better to leave them on.

Speaking of ego, even though your Beyoncé's dance captain, have you ever experienced any humbling moments?
Absolutely. I've auditioned and not gotten jobs, but I really do think it's just in me to be humble. Being around [Beyoncé], she's so humble so how dare I sit around and act like I'm Obama or some ruler of the world when I'm not. We're all human beings, we all go the bathroom. (Laughs) We all mess up things. We get pimples. I think also just being around my family and friends who keep me down to Earth, and seeing her too and watching her remain humble and grounded and being close with her family helps.

4. Run The World (2011)

Beyoncé herself said she was terrified during the first take of this video. What was going on in your mind and what was the process of shooting a big production like?
The first take of everything is a little rough and nerve-racking because you have all these different elements. There's like hundreds of girls [in some of the takes] so that in itself was a whole process. Hiring people, rehearsing dance steps, and doing all that. For "Run The World" in particular, we had sand and wardrobe or your shoes can be difficult to move in. There's always something that makes it harder than just working in a rehearsal studio. After that first take, you're like, "Okay, we just gotta thug it out and get through it."

5. Blow (2014)

Did you already know how to skate?
I grew up rollerblading so skating wasn't too far of a stretch. I definitely fell a few times and so did some of the other girls. We had extras in the video and when we were doing the actual skate scene, they were excited to be in the video and they could skate better than us. The production crew were trying to put her dancers around [her] but they kept easing their way to her like, "I want to be next to Beyoncé." They were so serious. (Laughs) Hey, they wanted to be in the shot, I get it but when it comes to skating, I knew just enough to get by.

The video was shot in Houston. Although Beyoncé abides by the vegan lifestyle, are there any good food spots she put you on to in her hometown?
Her mom will actually cook for us sometimes when we're in Houston. She'll make gumbo and it's so good and authentic. I love when Ms. Tina cooks for us because she's like everyone's mom. We've had her gumbo a few times while on tour and I think she made some on the set of "Blow" too. Of course, it went pretty quick.

6. Mine (Feat. Drake) (2014)

You were in this video, right?
(Laughs) Yes, contrary to belief. I think it's so amazing how we recreated art and how the dancers weren't recognizable. Literally, they had a picture and that's what we recreated in movement. They brought us this picture that was like fabric and these people, I can't remember if they had wigs on, but that was the inspiration. It was a person sitting there with movement, but it was a still picture, so that's where that came from. I looked at it like artwork. I have pictures with that bob on. It was different. I've never had a blonde, bowl cut with bangs past my eyes so we all had fun with it. Actually, the hairstyle started off as a shoulder length bob with bangs and we turned it around. That's how it got that shape.

You flexed your contemporary dance skills in this video, too. How was that?
It was like going back to my roots. Anthony Burrell came in and helped with the choreography for the video. He's like my brother and was at Alvin Ailey, too. When I first started working with Beyoncé, we were on tour together and did a ballet, contemporary duet together so it was like for old time's sake.

7. Heaven (2014)

You got your acting chops up in this video.
That was so fun. I have so many incredible memories from shooting that video. We shot it in South America and were in Puerto Rico for most of it. There were a few pick-up shots done in New York as well, but we shot while on tour in South America. We were constantly flying back and forth, we'd do a show, fly, have a day off and shoot. We did amazing and incredible things. Where we would stay was incredible too. I felt like I was Beyoncé. We were flying on private jets and helicopters and they closed down zip-lining just for us. We got to do some really, really awesome stuff–it was fun. We drove through Times Square, too. That's where I'm the driver in the car, and people were like going crazy. We had a car in front of us and a car behind us with cameras so they clearly knew we were shooting something. We didn't have a license to be shooting so, of course, we're drawing all this chaos and attention in the middle of Times Square. The cops were like, 'What's going on?' We got pulled over and the officer is like, 'Miss, may I see your driver's license?' My driver's license was in the trailer and me and Beyoncé are sitting there like, 'We're going to jail.' I was like, 'Good thing you're rich, girl, so you can bail us out." (Laughs) I was definitely going to jail because I was driving and didn't have my license. It wasn't even my car! He ended up asking for a picture and she was like, 'That's why he stopped us really.' It's so funny.

8. Grown Woman (2014)

Have you seen the viral trend, #BeyoncéAlwaysOnBeat?
Of course. I thought it was hilarious because she really is always on the beat. It's pure comedy. (Laughs)

SEE ALSO: Once You See A Little Bit Of #BeyonceAlwaysOnBeat, You Just Can’t Stop

As you mentioned, you chose to tour the world instead of studying at Juilliard. How has that decision impacted you and molded you into the woman you are today?
It definitely gave me my independence at a young age since I started being a professional. I couldn't have asked to be in a better camp with her because she started young with Destiny's Child. She got it. Her family got it. I remember my dad talking to my tour manager and being like, 'Please look out for my baby girl.' So they really are like my family. I've grown up in front of them and I'm thankful I experienced this with this camp. Who knows how I would've been treated or how the circumstances would've played out, even what road I could have gone down. I could've been some crazy girl that just lost it really young or something, you know. It could've gone that way, let's be real. We're in this industry with drugs and alcohol and I've seen it all, but I personally just don't participate. It's crazy. It has definitely molded me into the person that I am today. I'm grateful of the process and the path it took me on.

Overall, what has working with Beyoncé's camp taught you?
Working with someone like her with her work ethic, you don't have a choice. We all have to be hard workers and if we're not, then you're not going to last. Her work ethic is unreal to watch, be around and to experience. It's inspiring. I think anyone that's in the same room as her and gets to see her or experience how she works is going to leave with something. Whenever I'm around her, I just try and absorb all the knowledge and experience. She knows what she's doing and she's worked really hard for it, and that's why she is who she is. It really inspires me to keep going and to continue pursuing my goals and dreams.

Photo Credit: Sterling Photography

 

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Aaliyah during TNT Presents - A Gift of Song - New York - January 1, 1997 in New York City, New York, United States.
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Fans Rally For Aaliyah's Discography To Be Released On Streaming Platforms

As another day passes without Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms, fans are looking for answers.

Over the weekend, the hashtag #FreeAaliyahMusic appeared on Twitter in light of song battles between Swizz Beats vs. Timbaland and Ne-Yo vs. Johnta Austin. The latter opponents played their collaborations with the late singer, proving Baby Girl's dynamic relevancy in the age of modern R&B. As songs like "I Don't Wanna" and "Come Over" picked up plays on YouTube, the hashtag pointed out the tragedy of her songs not existing on platforms like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music.

Aaliyah's only album on multiple platforms is her 1994 debut, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number. Other albums like the platinum-selling One in A Million and Aaliyah are being held in a vault of sorts along with other unmixed vocals by her uncle and founder of Blackground Records, Barry Hankerson.

Hankerson has built up a mysterious yet haunting aura over the years due to his refusal to release Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms. Reasons are unknown but Stephen Witt's 2016 investigation revealed business deals like the shift in distribution from  Jive Records to Atlantic helped Hankerson take ownership of the singer's masters. The deal was made in 1996 when Blackground featured artists like Aaliyah, Toni Braxton, R. Kelly, then-production duo Timbaland and Magoo as well as Missy Elliott.

Sadly, Aaliyah's music isn't the only recordings lost in the shuffle. Recordings from Timbaland and Toni Braxton have been hidden from the world with both taking legal action against the label over the years. There's also JoJo, who had to break from the label after they refused to release her third album. The singer recently re-recorded her first two albums.

With Aaliyah's music getting the attention it deserves, Johnta Austin discussed the singer's impact on R&B today. "It was amazing, she was incredible from top to bottom," he told OkayPlayer of working with the singer on "Come Over" and "I Don't Wanna." "I don't think Aaliyah gets the vocal credit that she deserves. When she was on it, she had the riffs, she had everything."

Earlier this year, an account impersonating Hankerson claimed her music would arrive on streaming platforms January 16, on what would've been her 41st birthday. A docuseries called the Aaliyah Diaries was also promoted for a release on Netflix.

Of course, it was far from the truth. Fans can enjoy selected videos and songs on YouTube, but it's clear they want more.

 

Aaliyah’s music is the landmark for a lot of your favs not only was she ahead of her time with her futuristic sounds she also was a fashion Icon dancer and phenomenal actress . The future generations need be exposed to her artistry and pay homage .#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/LxZfxcqRgF

— Black Clover (@la_alchemist) March 29, 2020

Her first #1 solely based on AirPlay! She was the first ! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/BHlANZjCGZ

— (@hodeciii) March 29, 2020

Makes no sense for someone still so influential to be hidden. Many try to emulate her. On Spotifys This is Aaliyah playlist, theres some great tracks not on her main Spotify #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/vLqLTVxqO9

— Blackity Black⁷ (@ClaudBuzzzz) March 29, 2020

Aaliyah is trending once again. She deserves endless flowers. This is true impact y’all. Her voice, her sound, her music...She’s been gone for 2 decades and y’all see the love for her is even stronger! We miss you baby girl! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/ALDcT0ZQxR

— A A L I Y A H (@forbbygrlaali) March 30, 2020

Aaliyah said she wanted to be remembered for her music and yet most of it is not on streaming services #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/zwk0AWMCoE

— RJR (@MyNewEssence96) March 29, 2020

aaliyah’s gems like more than a woman deserve to be in streaming sites #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/mM2GWEg1pe

— k (@grandexrocky) March 30, 2020

I saw #FreeAaliyahMusic and IMMEDIATELY jumped into action! I can’t express how betrayed I felt when we were supposed to have all her music on Spotify by her birthday. Her discography is deeply underestimated and we need to make it right for our babygirl!pic.twitter.com/GfxBeJxUY1

— jerrica✨ (@jerricaofficial) March 29, 2020

Before Megan The Stallion drove the boat...

Aaliyah rocked the boat...

#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/iXNwssD3sY

— Al’Bei (@_albei) March 29, 2020

i think we should have that conversation #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/cGl269tuTr

— AALIYAH LEGION (@AaliyahLegion) April 1, 2020

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Singers Adrienne Bailon (L) and Kiely Williams of the 'Cheetah Girls' pose for photos around Mercedes Benz Fashion Week held at Smashbox Studios on October 18, 2007 in Culver City, California.
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Kiely Williams Explains Fallout With Adrienne Bailon Houghton And Alleged Fight With Raven-Symonè

Our current isolated way of life has given some plenty of time for reflection like Kiely Williams of the former girl group 3LW and The Cheetah Girls (ask your kids). The tales of both successful groups have been told time after time by fans in YouTube documentaries and members of each collective but Williams has decided to share her side of the story.

Williams hopped on Live Monday (March 30) where she discussed her former friendship with The Real co-host Adrienne Bailon Houghton and the infamous chicken throwing fight with actress/singer Naturi Naughton. The mother of one didn't pinpoint exactly why she fell out with Houghton but did point out how she wouldn't be interested in appearing on her talk show.

"I don't think Adrienne wants to have live TV with me," Williams said. "'Cause she's gon' have to say, 'Yes Kiely, I did pretend to be your best friend. Now, I am not.' You were either lying then or you're lying now. You either were my best friend and now you're just not claiming me or you were pretending [to be my best friend."

The two remained friends after Naughton was kicked out of 3LW, the platinum-selling group known for 2000s pop hits like "No More (Baby I'ma Do Right)" and "Playas Gon' Play." Williams and Houghton were eventually picked to be apart of The Cheetah Girls with then-Disney darling Raven-Symonè and dancer Sabrina Bryan.

Williams went on to discuss her fight with Naughton, which she denies had anything to do with her skin color. With her mother near, Williams claimed Naughton called her a b***h, leading to the fight. While she didn't clear up the chicken throwing, she stated how she was "going for her neck" and was holding food and her baby sister in the process.

Apologies aren't on the horizon either. “I don’t feel like I have anything to make amends for, especially as it relates to Adrienne,” Kiely said. “As far as Naturi goes, if there was ever a reason to apologize, all of that has kind of been overshadowed by the literal lies and really ugly stuff that she said about my mom and my sister. So, no. Not interested in that. I’m sorry.”

Moving onto The Cheetah Girls, Williams also denied claims she got into fights with Raven-Symonè on the set of The Cheetah Girls films and never outed her as a teen. The rumor about Symonè and Williams was reportedly started by Symonè's former co-star Orlando Brown.

Symonè has often shared positive memories about The Cheetah Girls and their reign but did imply during an episode of The View how co-star Lynn Whitfield kept her from losing her cool on set.

On a lighter note, Symonè, Houghton and Naughton have kept in contact with Naughton and Houghton putting their differences aside during an appearance on The Real. 

Symonè and Houghton also reunited at the Women's March in Los Angeles in January. During Bailon's performance at the event, the two briefly performed the Cheetah Girls' classic, "Together We Can."

Willaims also shared some stories about the making of the group's hits. Check out her Live below.

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Kelis Announces ‘Cooked With Cannabis’ Show Will Premiere On Netflix

Kelis is taking her chef talents to Netflix. The musician will host a food competition show titled Cooked With Cannabis that’ll premiere on the very-fitting April 20 (4/20). According to NME, the show will span six episodes and be co-hosted by chef Leather Storrs.

Describing the opportunity as a “dream come true” since she’s a major supporter of the streaming service, Kelis took to Instagram to share how cannabis and cooking is one of her many creative passions. “As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today’s society,” the mother-of-two writes. “In this country, many things have been used systemically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together.”

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I'm really excited to announce my new show, Cooked with Cannabis on @Netflix!! Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love my Netflix, so this is a dream come true. Interestingly, this was one of those things that I didn't go looking for, it kind of came to me. As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today's society. In this country, many things have been used systematically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together. I hope you all will tune in, it's definitely going to be a good time! We launch on 4/20! XO, Kelis

A post shared by Kelis (@kelis) on Mar 18, 2020 at 7:57am PDT

In a previous Lenny Letter profile, Kelis shared she comes from a line of culinary influences beginning with her mother who owned a catering service. In 2008, the “Milkshake” singer sought to refine her cooking skills by enrolling in the Le Cordon Bleu school. Receiving a certificate as a trained saucier, the New York native put her expertise to the test during pop-up restaurants in her native city, created a hot sauce line, and co-owns a sustainable farm in Quindio, Colombia.

“Food is revolutionary because it is the one and only international language. It’s the most human thing you can partake in,” she said in an interview with Bon Appetit. “We are the only species that cooks.”

This isn’t Kelis’ first foray into the reality-cooking television world. In 2014, she partnered with the Cooking Channel for Saucy and Sweet and published the "My Life on a Plate" cookbook a year later.

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