“You can be wrong and strong as long as you’re strong”
Best known for being Beyonce’s dance captain, Ashley Everett hasn’t settled at working with the best and doesn’t lack any experience under her belt. She’s expanded her career by working with Ne-Yo, Usher and Ciara, as well as acting on VH1 Series Hit The Floor.
From acting as Beyonce’s best friend in her ‘Heaven’ video, to performing at the Super Bowl, we were eager to know more about the exceedingly accomplished dancer, actress and sweet, 27-year-old, from Chico, California.
She tells us about starting out in the industry, balancing her work and her love life and why dancers have to work twice as hard as any other creative.. Have a read of what happened when Debut met Ashley…
Debut: You moved to New York at the age of 16 to pursue your dreams, were your parents supportive or did they question your decisions?
Ashley: No, I mean my parents are the reason why I am where I am today. Like literally they’ve been my rock, my heart & soul, my biggest fans and supporters since day one. They’ve been married my whole life, and my mum was like we need to get you out of Chico, where I’m from, a small town. She was like we need to get you to a bigger city, whether its L.A, or N.Y or something so you can progress as a dancer and so she moved with me. My brother and my dad stayed back in California. Both my dad and my mum are in real estate so they bought a place in New York, they put me and my mum in, just so I could pursue my dreams, like all for me. So I wouldn’t be here without them.
Debut: Wow, that’s really supportive! How does your career affect your personal life?
Ashley: I feel like my career is my personal life, like I’m so used to it. Some of my closest friends are the people I’m on tour with, they’re like sisters to me, of course I have my life outside of tour and work but everybody knows how busy I am and everybody knows how much I work and travel. I am in a relationship, we’ve been together for almost six years, and he’s understanding, we met working together, we both travel, we both tour, so he gets it and my family gets it. Of course it’s hard to miss certain occasions like, weddings, funerals, I’ve missed a lot of birthdays, that’s the hardest part. But I always try to make it home for the holidays.
Debut: It must be exciting to always be on tour! What’s the best part about traveling?
Ashley: I just love going all over the world doing what I love and performing and experiencing all the different cultures, sightseeing. I like being in different places. Now the travelling as far as getting in and out of airports is obviously the tedious part, but it’s worth it.
Debut: Do you have a favourite place you’ve been to that you would love to go back to one day?
Ashley: I do want to go back to Thailand, I’ve only ever been there one time, I’ve always wanted to go to Bora Bora, I’ve never been there, but that’s like me dreaming. I have to go on vacation or something there. I love Australia, I love going back to Australia.
And I love London, I feel like this is the closest thing to America, it’s a big city like New York, kind of.
Debut: How do you think you can inspire the young generation to pursue their career in dance?
Ashley: I always try to tell anybody that’s trying to get into this industry or doing what I’m doing I think hard work and dedication, you have to make a lot of sacrifices, I missed out on so many things at school, just because I was always in dance class, and as far as training its important to train in different styles, and have that background, even if you’re not a master at it. Just to have a little bit under your belt, it just opens up more doors and more opportunities.
Debut: What kind of work ethic does a successful dancer have to have?
Ashley: Well first of all, dancers are looked at as the bottom of the barrel in this industry, there’s the artist, then there’s the band, the music directors, the singers and then there’s dancers, We’re looked at like, Oh you’re replaceable, if you don’t want to do it for like $2 we’ll find someone who will, it’s very hard to stand up for ourselves because we are such hard workers and we will put the work in for an opportunity, but sometimes it can be overlooked and taken advantage of. We all have to work hard, we have to, and you can’t get lazy because they will just replace you in two seconds.
Debut: What’s been the toughest thing you’ve dealt with since starting out?
Ashley: I mean one of the hardest things is just like being away from family and loved ones and friends and missing out. Like I was saying on a lot of events and things that happen back at home, it’s just hard. And of course its hard also this industry in general is kind of like a roller-coaster, when you’re up, you’re up or the job can be over tomorrow and then you’re like, okay what am I doing now, and work can come and go, and you can be on for six months and off for three, and you’re like where is my next check going to come from, so that’s a hard thing that people have to grasp about this industry and you must have a certain mentality and a certain grind and hustle.
Debut: So you’ve done some acting, are there any other creative industries you want to get into?
Ashley: I definitely want to try more acting, In my mind I would be in comedies because I love comedies, like Kevin Hart is my best friend, in my mind, so I just think that would be really fun. I also can see myself doing more, as a I get older, more creative direction, or even like judging a big TV show like Dancing With The Stars, or something like that I can see myself doing.
Debut: Can you tell us more about Reba To The Rescue?
Ashley: Reba To The Rescue, it’s a children’s new book, it’s geared towards pre-school and kindergarten. Basically it’s a teaching book, they teach you about words and your body and how to use it and language and you know things like that. It’s kind of like Dora The Explorer, and I’m just featured in it, I’m the special guest, I’m Miss Ashley and I’m talking in my segment. We’re talking about our bodies and how we use our body. For example I say I’m a dancer, I use my body this way, my arms, my legs, my feet, my head, my hair, I talk about everything, It’s really cute.
Debut: What’s been your favourite project that you’ve worked on?
Ashley: I do really like shooting videos, like how Lemonade is kind of more like a movie, I feel like I’m always learning something on all of the sets that I’ve been on, and I’ve been on multiple sets and I’m always just so intrigued and amazed, and I like watching everybody and their creative process in it, I think is always really cool, and to see the outcome and see the process. I’ve seen the edits and the changes being made and just watching that I think is like really intriguing. There’s so much that goes into it, there so much footage and so much that gets smushed into a 3 minute video, and its crazy it’s like where does all this other footage go.
Debut: What’s the most memorable thing that’s happened to you on stage?
Ashley: I’ve definitely fallen, I’ve slipped, ‘I’ve had wardrobe malfunctions, every wardrobe malfunction you could probably think of but then also there’s moments when you’re on stage and it’s like an outer body experience where you see the whole audience, moments when they lift their phone lights up, and you’re just like wow it’s just incredible that one person, like a huge artist or celebrity can get all these people into one place and be on the same accord. I think it’s really incredible and powerful. I love when I’m on stage and I can just take the moment in, because it’s so easy to get caught up in your head and just be like I have to do this, I have to do that, but to actually take it all in and look around and see that wow I’m on the Superbowl stage or wow I’m at Glastonbury or wow I’m doing a stadium tour, it’s really cool.
Debut: Do you like the idea of being a role model to younger girls?
Ashley: I do, I mean when I was growing up we didn’t have Facebook and Instagram and twitter and all that to follow people so I think its cool that the younger generation has that now to look up to, ask questions to, try to follow the guidelines. I didn’t know about auditions, I didn’t know about agencies, I just didn’t know, I found out obviously and I started doing it but you know there wasn’t that same kind of outlet so I take pride in being a role model and I want to keep being a positive one and not let anyone down and hopefully give the right guidelines or advice that I can.
Debut: If you weren’t a dancer, what profession do you think you would be in?
Oh my gosh, I really don’t know, I mean I used to do Gymnastics and dance at the same time, and I was pretty good, my gymnastics team was like okay we want you to join the travelling team but if you do that, you can’t dance because we need you too much, and I was like ahh, I don’t know if I can just leave my dance studio, so then I didn’t continue with gymnastics. But I remember I used to say I’m going to be the next Dominique Dawes, and she was one of the first black Olympians, so I was like ill be the next Olympic gymnast.
Debut: So always something athletic right?
Ashley: I guess I’ve always been athletic, I didn’t hate school but I never wanted to be a scientist, I don’t know I just always knew I was going to be dancing or entertaining somehow.
Debut: What’s an ideal chill day for Ashley?
Ashley: Ideal chill day starts with sleeping in, waking up, eating something delicious, I do like to roam around whatever city I’m in and just walk around and get to know the area, or cab it to a popular area and do some sightseeing or be a tourist. I really do like to just take it easy; days off are usually about relaxing, eating and having a drink.
Debut: You have had the opportunity to work with various artists, who’s inspired you the most and why?
Ashley: Well I mean Beyoncé has obviously played a huge part in my career and she has definitely been a huge inspiration as well. When I was younger I used to look up to Michael and Janet, I used to watch Janet’s videos and I just wanted to be in them, I wanted to be one of her friends cause I thought the people who were dancing in her videos were her friends, I didn’t know they were like hired dancers, I was like I just want to be the homegirl, I want to be in that, I want to do what they’re doing, so they played a huge impact in my young life as well. And I’ve worked with a lot of other celebrities too and just seeing them being so humble is very inspiring and cool, I know dancers who act crazier then some of these celebrities, and then you see the ones that do act very diva-ish or whatever, But I don’t know I just take it all in, I learn from it.
Debut: Any words of wisdom that you’ve picked up that you want to share with our readers?
I always say, I know it sounds cliché to say anything is possible, but it really is, and it’s not easy and it takes a lot of hard work and dedication and so much sacrifice, I sacrifice so much, I missed out on a lot of normal childhood things just to be where I am now, but I don’t regret it. It takes a lot of hard work, you have to believe in yourself, some people will believe in you but not everyone is going to, so you have to prove them wrong, and not in a nasty way.
Also committing to it. You have to commit, I always say, you can be wrong and strong as long as you’re strong, cause if you believe it, that will make people believe it, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be the right way or the way everybody else would do it. If I’m doing this step and I’m committing to it, you’re going to be like, let me try, that looks fun, anything, whether it’s an outfit, commit to it, I wouldn’t wear it but you’re owning it.
Debut: What’s on your playlist?
Ashley: Right now everyone’s listening to Drake, but I do love me some drake, I love Chris’s music, future, I’m a future fan. I like Panda, even though I’m kind of getting over Panda.
Debut: Do the songs you listen to while you’re dancing get tedious?
Ashley: Yeah of course, sometimes we rehearse it so much, I’m like I really love this song but we’ve listened to it and done so many different versions of it that you’re like, oh my gosh. Like I love the Beyoncé album, but mostly the ones that have choreography I’m like sick of because I’ve heard it the most. Because we have to rehearse it so much, but I still love them, I’m not quiet sick of it yet.
Debut: What advice would you give to our readers thinking of pursuing a career in dance?
Ashley: I would say, take as many classes as you can, train, be seen by teachers, it’s not always what you know, who you know helps, unfortunately in this industry its kind of like that, you know you have to know people but your talent is what’s going to take you to the next step, or the next level, but I do think being seen, and being in classes or auditions, even if you’re just auditioning, go to all the auditions, whether it’s for toothpaste or for Beyoncé, like go to it, you never know what will come out.
We absolutely loved speaking to Ashley, she’s definitely one of the most hardworking and humble people we’ve had the pleasure to meet! Have a look at what Ashley had to say about Debut over on our Instagram @debutmaguk