Ashley Jackson on how she got her start, some of her favorite projects she’s worked on to date, and more!
You paved your own way into the entertainment industry. Talk to us about this experience.
I actually started acting and doing musical theatre when I was around 13/14- that’s when I caught the bug. I was very much in love with music and musical theatre switched it over for me. After that, I eventually started acting and got representation. In college, I was working and being a student full-time- acting in the day, taking classes, making up classes, and all that!
What are some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on to date in terms of TV and film?
My first major streaming project was called BEATS, and it’s on Netflix. It has a special place in my heart because it’s my first. It was amazing, it was a star-studded cast and everyone was so kind to us newcomers. We shot that in Chicago and it was my first leading role/co-star role so that was very exciting for me. I had a blast!
After that, I was still in school and I shot this project – of no relation- called Blast Beat, and I was able to shoot that in Columbia and Atlanta. I flew to Bogotá in the middle of my semester to shoot scenes! It ended up only being shot and shown as if it were in Atlanta so I flew out for “movie magic” purposes. That was an incredible experience as well with so many other amazing people.
You are currently studying film production at The University of Southern California. How have you applied your learnings to real-life work experiences?
When I was at Spelman College originally, they didn’t have a specific film major beyond Documentary Film and I was interested in Narrative, so I was able to create my own major! I was studying Black People in Film and Television Around the Globe and also Screenwriting. I applied my screenwriting to everything- from being an actress to writing scripts because I actually screenwrite. I start in the fall at USC in the Peter Stark Producing Program and so I’m excited to add my screenwriting knowledge to producing and inevitably create my own projects. Everything I learn I use in some form or fashion- it’s nice to have an overlap!
You are also an activist. What are some of the causes and organizations you’re passionate about?
I learned about the issue of Domestic Sex Trafficking when I was in high school and went to a panel. The person running the panel blew my mind with the information they were speaking about. From that point forward, I started organizing toiletry drives and donation drives for victims and survivors. I am now consulting with the National Center on Sexual Exploitation to help survivors come up with new ways to reach new audiences and change public policy to support survivors and other victims. That’s something I am extremely passionate about.
I am also a vegan so I am passionate about supporting animals. Anything civil rights, social justice-oriented, just trying to fight for equality for men, women, in-between, all the things. I also want to help people around the globe who are lacking in education and other resources.
What’s next for you?
First and foremost, grad school! Preparing to be a student again, which is going to be interesting since I took some time off during the pandemic. I’m very excited about that. I am getting a new apartment too, so all of the things!
I am also prepping some more stuff in the screenwriting space. I am in full support of the Writer’s Strike right now so I am doing what I can from my house but hopefully, when we get this sorted, I can pursue some of my other projects and get back to acting! I have a project that just came out at Cannes Film Festival called Black Terror. My mentor actually asked me to do a cameo and I did so that’s exciting! I hope to be doing a few more projects later in the year, navigating between school, work, acting, and writing and producing.