Ashley Blaine Featherson has big plans and a bright future ahead of her. With her genuine and kind attitude, we can tell that the charismatic bombshell won’t let anything get in her way until she reaches her goals. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Ashley will be starring in her second season of Hello Cupid and we’re just as excited as she is for the premiere.
With a successful premiere season behind her, Featherson says that she is proud to say that “Hello Cupid is her baby.” We recently chatted about her experience and why fans should expect amazing things from the new season.
VIBE Vixen: What are three words you would use to describe yourself?
Ashley: Vibrant; because I have a really bright energy. I enter a room and you’re going to know that I’m there. I have a presence about me. I feel like I’m able to adapt well in many situations. Thoughtful, because I’m always considering others. I’m always trying to figure out what I can do for someone else…in this business, you can’t win by yourself. I’m always asking myself, “What is the bigger picture?”
What convinced you to pursue acting?
I was 4-years-old. I was going to a Montessori school and I auditioned for a play: “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.” I actually got casted as one of the Trolls, which was like a big deal because it was a leading role. I came home after school and I just started cry to my parents. My dad kept asking what was wrong, so I told him about the troll role. My dad was excited and said that it was a good thing. He was confused as to why I was crying. I told him that the trolls are mean and I didn’t want to play a mean character.
My dad was very disappointed; as he thought it was such a meaty role, but he told me it was okay. I’ve always been someone who looked at how I would be affected by playing a certain role. Does it sit well with me? Does it feel like something that is working organically? I knew I wanted to be an actor at that age. I loved seeing my parents smile and people laugh in the audience. I was really blown away at how people could be affected by my performance.
Describe your experience in ‘Dear White People.’
It was the best experience ever. For it to be my first feature was great because all the people that I worked with are like my family. To work in a film that is truly saying something and has a message that needs to be told is just a really awesome thing. I felt like we were all a part of this amazing film that has now taken Sundance by the storm and will continue to do great things.
I am very humbled and grateful for the entire experience. From the cast to the producers, we all really believe in each other and I think that really shines through. We’re all friends; we talk all the time, text, hang out, email. It’s an experience that I will never ever forget and forever be grateful for. It feels amazing to know that we are making an indelible mark on the world with a film that is fueled with passion.
What are you looking forward to with Hello Cupid?
I’m super excited for it. I think it was the perfect time for us to come back. I’m just so grateful for the success that we had with season one. I think that awesome and successful projects come when you don’t have the intention of necessarily getting a whole bunch of views or gaining a ton of exposure. You just want to do good work and I feel like if you do good work and collaborate with awesome and talented people, inevitably people latch on and people will become supporters and fans.
This season is super duper fun and I think jaws are going to drop to the floor even more than the first season. I’m looking forward to exposing new people to Hello Cupid and continuing to inspire conversations and healthy debates. I want it to continue to empower Black women through seeing honest depictions of themselves on screen.
What are some of your career goals for you future?
I want to be a film, TV and stage actress who actively is inspiring others. Acting and performing is not enough for me. My is goal if I can inspire one little girl, especially one that looks like me, to achieve and chase her dream and know that they’re attainable, then I’ve done my job. This year, I really want to continue to make head way in film; at least one other film. I want to book a TV show. I want to eventually have my own television show; not like “The Ashley Show.” I would love to have the longevity of a show like Friends.
What advice would you give to a young aspiring actress?
Know that you’re enough. A lot of time you get out to LA or NY or wherever you are and you start to tell yourself “I’m not good enough.” What it takes is innately in you. It’s not who you know or how much experience you have. You have to realize that you are destined for greatness. If you feel like it’s your life’s destiny, then its got to work out. I’ve learned to view my “losses” as “victories”. Nobody can ever steal your blessing. If you were to look at the percentage of projects booked next to those I’ve auditioned for, it’s probably frightening, but I’m thankful that I didn’t get those jobs because I wouldn’t be in the position that I am in now.
I think a good thing about creating your own work is that you have control over what you want people to see. If I didn’t take the initiative to co-create Hello Cupid and collaborate with Lena Waithe & Black & Sexy TV, I don’t know where I would be right now. Know that are more capable than you think. I think the coolest thing about being an actor is that actors have brilliant imaginations, but we get so caught up in our talents. We then limit our selves to just doing that one specific thing.
I would not be where I am today in my career if it weren’t for the most loving, creative, innovative, talented people around me daily. I love awards shows because I love how emotional people get when they talk about the people they’ve worked with because they known them for years and I just cant wait to the point in my career when I get to feel that way.
Lastly, have some type of spiritual foundation. Be connected to something that’s bigger than yourself. Because in this town it’s easy to lose yourself and I’ve seen a lot of people do it.
Who is someone you are inspired by?
It’s so brilliant what Spike Lee did, which kind of ties into what our Dear White People director Justin Simien did: take chances. We didn’t know who those actors and actresses were when Spike did She’s Got to Have it or School Daze or Do The Right Thing. These were all people who were introduced to the scene and they’re all people that we still know today.
What has your natural journey been like?
I went natural in 2008, my senior year at Howard U. Being at Howard you see a lot of beautiful women and growing up, I wasn’t around a lot of women who were natural. I had a relaxer like my whole life. I just remember being inspired by the beautiful Black women on campus. I remember thinking like, ‘I’ve never seen my hair like this.’ I wonder if my hair can do that. I made a vow that I’ll never go back, that I’ll never chemically process my hair. It’s a really empowering thing. As black actresses, we have to do a lot with our hair. I hope that as a people we continue to really try to embrace it. I’m obsessed with African Queens and I feel like I was a queen in my past life. I feel connected to them through my hair and I wouldn’t want to change that. I feel like there’s something very beautiful and very regal about that.