Editor’s Note: They are leaders. They are inspirational. They are mentors. They are visionaries. They are, quite frankly, badasses. They are our 2020 REEL WOMEN. During Women’s History Month, you will be able to meet these incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Get ready, they are making “Herstory.”
Bright, vivacious, and lovely, eightvfx’s Ashley Ford has worked with an array of talent & projects including this year alone, Nissan, Cadillac, Fuser, Taco Bell and Panera Bread.
Ashley began her career as a Jr. Producer at Rock Paper Scissors before transitioning to the sales side at Siobhan McCafferty & Associates, repping a roster that included Bob Industries, Untitled, Humble, Thomas Thomas Films, Luma Pictures, Lost Planet Editorial and Pacific Rim Films.
Ashley handled Business Development for Integrated Advertising at Framestore before launching her own company, Friends of Ford where Ashley’s roster included Stept Studios, Good Company, Flavor, London Alley, and Nylon Studios to name a few.
Prior to her new post as Executive Producer at eightvfx, Ashley was EP at Universal Music Group’s ELIAS. According to Ashley, her future goal is to one day be the first Asian-American female to EP her own TV show, naturally incorporating VFX elements.
What Did You Originally Want to be When You Grow Up? I’ve always known I wanted to work in the industry but it took my whole life to find where I fit.
How Did You Get into Post-Production? I moved to LA with two thousand dollars in an Acura Integra packed with all my belongings from the East coast after living in Chicago post college. I had zero idea how I would get in the industry so I did what any young person in LA would do: I applied to every job in the production related field on Craigslist, Mandy, and Entertainment Careers.
After a few months and only a couple hundred dollars left to my name, I got my first job as a part-time assistant to an advertising directors rep. I was instantly fascinated and hooked. Been in the industry ever since
Who Were Your Mentors? I would say my biggest mentor in the business is Siobhan McCafferty. She is such a brilliant, strong business woman. I admire her deeply. I look up to her and will call her whenever I need solid advice. She’s been my advocate and I would not be here without her. My other mentor is my aunt Myrna.
She’s the smartest women I’ve ever met and always pushed me since I was a little girl to be the best version of myself. She used to give me a vocabulary word every week and assigned me to use it at least three times in conversations in my everyday life that week and report back. She’s helped me negotiate salaries and helped me navigate my career. Of course, my mother is the strongest woman I’ve ever known.
Not just because she’s my mother, but because she taught me independence at an early age. My spitfire personality is due to her. She came from nothing and to see her shine today; I know I’m super lucky. I’m very fortunate to have such amazing women in my life.
Name Your Biggest Achievement: I left a very comfortable job around 2016 to start my own company, Friends of Ford. I am very proud of myself for doing it for three years and perhaps even prouder I had the ability to quit and realize stopping didn’t make me a failure at all. Ultimately, I came out stronger and extremely more knowledgeable about business.
At the end of it, I realized I didn’t want to rep for the rest of my life and the time was now or never. Working for yourself is a totally different ball game, one I loved but also didn’t want repping to be my career. I cried a lot and had to really get deep within myself to figure out what I really want in life. Any sales job is very hard and getting people to pay you, well that’s a different story! ha!
But honestly, I was lonely. I thrive in busy environments and love the energy of a lively office space.
Biggest Disappointment: Some businesses and people are not who you think they were.
Name Your Biggest Pet Peeves: Fake people. Sounds cliché, but there’s a lot of them in any business. I look for the best in people but the longer I’m in the business, the faster I acquire less patience for people who don’t want to work hard and be their best selves.
There are plenty of good people in the world, that you don’t have to work with bad people. Choose your friends and work family wisely.
Predictions for the Advertising and Post-Production/VFX Industry over the Next Decade?: I think we can all agree that the industry has changed tremendously over the past five years. Companies working directly with brands and forgoing agencies or acting as an agency and production company is ever growing.
I see it working for smaller brands who don’t necessarily need an AOR, but for certain clients, you need a bigger company to manage the brand as a whole. However, I feel the crossover with direct to brand will only grow stronger.
Name a Job You Had that Would Surprise People: I worked in restaurants throughout high school and college to pay bills. I loved serving and think everyone should work in the food industry at least once in their lifetime.
My favorite job before getting into this profession was teaching theatre to kids ages 6-11 for two years during college. It was once a week at a performing arts center in Muncie, Indiana. It hardly paid anything, but it was one of the best and most rewarding jobs.
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Based on Your Own Experience, What Advice Would You Give to Women Considering a Career in Your Field? I would say find people who truly and genuinely want to see you succeed without it benefiting them. Try and find a boss, crew of women who are there for you and want to see you shine. A good boss will teach you and allow you to grow without micromanaging you.
Listen to what people say even if you don’t always agree. Ask questions. Ask a lot of questions. Leave your ego at home; actually flush it down the toilet. Be proud. Remember insecurity can easily turn to hate, so be careful. The ones who matter don’t care if you are being abrasive. I want to see more of that. Speak up, be yourself — your voice and ideas are valid. Ask wisely and always be humble.
Be curious. Work hard and don’t become lazy. It’s harder to get out of a funk than get into one. There are thousands of other people who would want to be in your shoes. People think they are not replaceable, that is incorrect. No one wants to work with a negative person.
Do You Talk to Yourself? The older I get, the more I do. I would say I sing to myself instead of talk, though.
What do You Wish You had More Time for? Work out and spend more time with my family.
What Inspires You to be Creative? Besides being a huge film and tv nerd, and consuming as much as I can from all the amazing directors and writers of the world, I personally love to sing and read fantasy books in my spare time.
My whole life I’ve juggled the creative and analytical sides of myself. Growing up, I was in every play, musical, and also was the high school show choir captain, class vice president — really anything that allowed me to speak and perform.
My creative side that I still value tremendously, has allowed me to speak and understand artists in a way that a lot of people cannot. .