We are sharing our recent interview with Ashley Ford, a Canadian actress currently based in Los Angeles.
Pro Media Mag : First of all tell us about the start of your professional career?
Ashley Ford: I was 16 years of age in Northern British, Columbia Canada. I went with a friend to an audition as her piano accompanist for an open call for The Unsinkable Molly Brown at The Prince George Playhouse. I was invited back the next day to audition myself, hoping for a small role in the chorus and instead, booked the lead role of Molly Brown. The director, Sue Murguly, just fell in love with me and despite my youth and lack of professional experience, decided to take a chance on me. It was a wonderful lesson. Sometimes, it just takes one person who believes in you and is willing to give you a shot.
Pro Media Mag : Who or what inspired you to get into acting?
Ashley Ford: From a young age, my mother was very encouraging. She exposed me to music of all kinds, took me to plays and we spent hours watching old black & white films and musicals together. In fact, I was quite shy as a girl and people were pretty surprised when I began stepping up on stage. But once I showed interest, both my parents were extremely supportive and encouraging.
Pro Media Mag : You have been into many kinds of acting ventures. What’s your best role so far?
Ashley Ford : That is so hard to choose! I have been very blessed. Definitely, playing the female lead understudy in the National Tour of the Broadway & Tony award winning show, Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps was a career game changer for me. The female lead plays all three roles in this show, an Eastern European spy, a lowly Scottish housewife and a posh, British politician. As an understudy, I had less than half the rehearsal time than the main lead, but always had to be ready to go on at a moment’s notice. In addition, I also doubled as one of the male clowns and every night could be seen leaping across stage in my black hat & suit, conducting puppetry and firing guns. Understudying a triple-threat role like that one pushed me physically and artistically in incredible ways and I got to work with a world class director, dialect coach, cast and crew. But Fraulein Kost in Cabaret is one of my favorites of all time, and I would gladly play that role again and again. And my all time favorite role to date was Izzy in David Lindsay-Abaire’s, Rabbit Hole at Davenport Theatre in NYC. Professionally, I am known for playing big, ballsy, strong female roles with kooky accents and lots of movement. Izzy was an opportunity to for me to come home to my true love – which is modern, contemporary American drama. What I adore about Izzy is she’s a bit of a clown, but the role requires depth and humanity. Also… I’m not gonna lie. I really liked seeing myself on a giant marquee in front of a Broadway theatre. Seriously. That was pretty cool! And I loved walking past the crowds of theatre goers lining up for amazing Broadway shows like Kinky Boots as I made my way to the theatre in time for my pre-show warm up. We had amazing, sold out audiences. And the critics were very kind as well.
Pro Media Mag : Tell us about your recent work?
Ashley Ford: More recently, I ventured into Motion Capture Performance and shot my first ever, virtual reality video game, Archangel VR with Skydance Interactive in the featured role of The Prisoner. My inner teenage nerd always secretly loved the idea of becoming a character in a video game. The experience of working in a VR role is unique because it incorporates both stage and on-camera acting technique. It is a fun, new medium and I hope to do more of it!
Pro Media Mag : You have done many commercials and stage production in Canada as well. What kinds of difference you found in both entertainment industries?
Ashley Ford: You know, the biggest difference really is just – accents! We might sound all sound a little kooky and different to one another but Canadians and Americans both have top notch entertainment industries. Whether I am working on a commercial set or stage production in Canada or the United States, the process, the level of talent and professionalism has always been on par.
Pro Media Mag : What kind of response you have received from critics and fans?
Ashley Ford: Well, I’ve always found it hard to properly float my own boat as an actress. But the critics have been very kind, and they seem to especially love me in Connecticut! I have performed twice with Playhouse on Park in West Hartford, CT. My first role there was as Fraulein Kost in Cabaret, where we not only had terrific reviews, but our 8 week run sold out and was extended. I was shortly invited back to the Playhouse as the hot-blooded Italian Maria Merelli in Lend Me A Tenor, which also was very well received. I was honored with two nominations for both shows, as Best Featured Actress on BroadwayWorld.
Pro Media Mag : What’s the best part of being an actor?
Ashley Ford: I love stories. And people. And learning about different people from different walks of life and places. And I am a real research junky. Every time I book a new role it’s an opportunity to dive in to not just another character but another world. When I played Fraulein Kost, I didn’t just spend hours pouring over books, learning everything there was to know about the Weimar Republic, German cabaret and life in pre-Nazi Germany, I also pushed myself to learn to speak German. Likewise, when I played Maria in Lend Me a Tenor I steeped myself in Italian life and culture, I developed a true appreciation for italian cinema, and became a huge Sofia Loren fan! If you’re curious (and lucky) each role is an opportunity to learn something new and to understand another person’s point of view, their life and circumstances.
Pro Media Mag : Any particular role you would like to play at least once in your career?
Ashley Ford: Too many! A role I would love to play in the near future, is definitely Agnes in Tracey Lett’s play, Bug. The show is lesser known to audiences, however it did have a stellar off-broadway run with one of my favorite actors, Michael Shannon who then appeared in the film version with Ashley Judd. It’s a gritty character role that requires a huge and explosive emotional range. I’ve also always felt a special affinity to the character of Harper in Angels in America. And then one day, my dream role is to play Blanche in Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Named Desire.
Pro Media Mag : Have you set some target to achieve ?
Ashley Ford: To play all the above roles within the next 5 years!
Pro Media Mag : What are your hobbies ?
Ashley Ford: I love yoga! It’s not just a form of exercise and meditation for me, I also enjoy how it pushes me both physically and mentally. It also nurtures a sense of play and curiosity. No matter how stressful or busy life gets, I can always go to my mat and just breathe and flow. More recently, I’ve been hit by the travel bug. I’ve been all over the USA, Canada and more recently, Mexico where I began learning Spanish!
Pro Media Mag : Tell us about your upcoming project?
Ashley Ford: I am currently in development on a new one-woman show with a talented writer, Theo Salter, about American suffragette, Victoria Woodhull. She was not only the first woman ever run for President of the United States, she did so 40 years before women even had won the right to vote. She was also the first female stockbroker on Wall Street and the first woman ever to address a congressional committee. However, she also had a very salacious reputation, there was much slander and gossip surrounding Woodhull, and it was said she spent her childhood as a travelling clairvoyant. She was also extremely outspoken about female sexuality and an advocate of free love. It was all too much for her fellow suffragette sisters, who initially loved her but in the end, Susan B Anthony publicly denounced Woodhull as “lewd and indecent” and when the history books were written, Victoria’s important role in the suffragist movement was largely left out. Since then, there has been numerous but unsuccessful attempts to tell her story. There have been plays, movies, books – yet, Woodhull is still largely an unknown historical figure. So, the working title of the play is, The Terrible Legend of Victoria Woodhull. In this play, the spirit of Woodhull, in the light of Hollywood’s recent #MeToo movement, will speak to the audience from beyond the grave, to tell her tale and finally, set the record straight.
Pro Media Mag : Are you active on social media? What’s the best way to follow you online?