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Ashley Versher on Rising Through Film and TV: A Miami Living Exclusive

Miami Living had the pleasure of chatting with the versatile Ashley Versher: actress, filmmaker and writer on the rise.  With her upcoming role alongside Jennifer Lopez in her highly anticipated autobiographical film ‘This is Me…Now’, Ashley's star is shining brighter than ever.  She has already graced the screens in hit TV shows like 'American Auto' and 'Law & Order SVU’, as well as taken charge behind the camera as a writer, director, and producer.  Her self-written and directed short film, 'Brief Exchanges,' swept through the 2023 film festival circuit, earning critical acclaim and multiple awards. Born in San Francisco and currently residing in Los Angeles, Ashley's passion for storytelling transcends boundaries, whether on stage, screen, or through her advocacy for young filmmakers of color.  We're thrilled to dive into Ashley's creative journey and catch a glimpse of what her life in the spotlight entails.  

Miami Living (ML): So great to get to speak with you Ashley!  Thank you for being here today.  First off, major congrats on your upcoming role in ‘This is Me…Now’ alongside Jennifer Lopez!  Can you share with us how you prepared for your character and what it was like working with such an iconic figure in the industry?

Ashley Versher: Thank you so much! I always start with the script. Always. I read it as many times as possible or as I feel necessary - which is usually plentiful. In the film, ‘This is Me…Now’ I play The Idealist. She has a very positive and hopeful perspective on life and especially on love. She is a romantic who believes in what would, should, or could be and is not limited by what is. I took that and ran with it! Working with Jennifer was an absolute dream. I never imagined sharing the screen with such an incredible artist. I have admired her work for years. She is just so incredibly talented and her work ethic is everything!

ML: From appearing in hit TV shows like "American Auto" and “Law and Order SVU” to writing and directing your own award-winning short film "Brief Exchanges," you've showcased incredible versatility.  Could you share a recent moment or experience that made you reflect on the journey you've taken in your career and appreciate the progress you've made?

Ashley: I am a big proponent of practicing gratitude. So I don't know if I could say that there has been one particular moment or one experience, because they all mean so much to me. I do know that every time I get an audition, book a job, and every time I'm on set it feels so surreal. As actors, we work so hard for a dream and to achieve a goal that seems impossible to most people. Because that's the frame that we are working, I just really try to be in the moment and in doing so I appreciate each step of the journey. 

ML: Your short film "Brief Exchanges" received critical acclaim and won several awards.  Could you tell us a little about its storyline and what inspired you to create this film?

Ashley: Brief Exchanges is about a young black woman living in New York City navigating intersectionality and filtered through the lens of a budding romance. New York is the story’s backdrop and is such an interesting city. It is the kind of place where you can meet somebody and end up spending the entire day with them. I think that’s very special and what brings the story to life. 

I was inspired to make this film during 2020 after the killing of George Floyd and the height of the Black Lives Matter movement. There was so much conversation on social media, and I think for me, this was one of those moments where we all really utilized social media as a form of protest, because we were in the middle of a pandemic. During this time there was a lot of conversation about microaggressions and that really sparked something in me - probably because I’ve lived a life experiencing them on almost a daily basis.

The tricky thing about microaggressions is that they are invisible to a lot of people, so I really wanted to paint a picture of what they look like and hopefully give people the opportunity to see what it feels like to experience them

ML: We've learned about your involvement with the non-profit organization 'Made In Her Image', supporting young women and non-binary youth of color in film and media. What led you to work with this organization, and what advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers from marginalized communities?

Ashley: In the beginning of 2021 I was really inspired by a friend of mine to take up space in the nonprofit world, and when I say 'take a space' I really mean to do my part. I was doing some research for my film Brief Exchanges and I came across a zoom panel called Through Her Lens, with incredible women cinematographers - Mia Cioffi Henry, Kira Kelly and others, which was hosted by Panavision and 'Made In Her Image'. So of course I did a deep dive into all things 'Made In Her Image' and found it to be a fantastic organization that I really wanted to support. I joined as a volunteer and over a series of months I took on varying roles in the organization. Everyone knows that getting into the entertainment industry is incredibly challenging - let alone trying to build a very successful career. This organization's mission is to empower young women, girls, and non-binary youth of color to carve out their path in this industry, and to tell their stories is crucial.


May be a little daunting to hear because I think it's the advice that you always hear but I think it's great advice, and that would be to pick up your phone, pick up a camera, pick up anything that you can use to record with and just start filming. Certainly anything from your family at Thanksgiving, a birthday party, to a night out on the town with your friends you can shoot and edit to tell a compelling story. Sure you can apply to grad school and you know hopefully you get in but it's also very expensive. If you want to be a filmmaker you have to just do it. Call yourself a filmmaker until you believe it but never stop doing it because that's the only way you're gonna learn.

ML: Outside of your professional endeavors, you're quite active with hobbies like cooking, yoga, and basketball. How do you balance your busy career with self-care, and do any of these activities influence your creative process?


Ashley: Probably my favorite thing to do and my main act of self care is traveling. My favorite city is Paris (second to New York). Obviously I can’t travel all the time, though I would if I could - so when I’m home I like to workout, watch movies and try new restaurants around town. I absolutely love food, just not more than I love to travel. Oh and skincare - my skincare routine is clutch. 

ML: Living in Los Angeles, how do you find inspiration in your everyday life?  And how do you unwind after a long day of filming or writing?

Ashley: I think I'm most inspired by the children in my life. I have nieces, nephews and godchildren, many of whom want to be in the film industry in some way shape or form. Children are the heart of the world, inspiring in their vulnerability, their empathy, their reactive disposition, their unabashed joy - it’s all so beautiful.

The way I unwind at the end of a long day changes, but for right now I like to have a hot cup of tea, a few biscuits, and when I say biscuit, I mean British biscuits, so cookies in American – and watch Downton Abbey. You can tell I was always meant to be an actor. Can you hear the drama required for me to unwind? It’s hilarious.

ML: What are some of your aspirations or goals for the future, whether it's in acting, filmmaking, writing, or other areas of creative expression?

Ashley: I am ready to make my next film. It's something I'm really excited about and the story is something I am very passionate about. Additionally, while I do have further goals and aspirations, right now I want to enjoy this moment and take it all in. I also of course want to celebrate! I think it’s important to look back on your past and all the hard work you've done and let that guide you into the future.

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By ML Staff. Images courtesy of Jared Schlachet


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