(Editor’s Note: To celebrate Women’s History Month, Reel Chicago and Reel 360 are once again celebrating the women who make up the industries of film, TV, advertising and music.)
Ashley Platz was born and raised in central New Jersey. She grew up wanting to be a poet, and a track and field athlete.
When she discovered her talent for acting her whole life shifted. She graduated Pace University with a BFA in Acting and left for Los Angeles where she still resides today.
Ashley’s appeared on Fox’s 9-1-1, Grey’s Anatomy, Hawaii 5-O, and will appear this summer on GLOW.
The award-winning actor/writer is currently nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her work in the film The After Party at Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema, and nominated for Best Actress for her work in the film American Muscle at the Garden State Film Festival.
She is currently in pre-production for a civil war era female-led western that she wrote called Born Still. Her team is currently looking for investors.
How did you get into the business? I got into acting as a teen. My freshman year of high school I had an open elective. My guidance counselor offered me either Metal Shop or Theater Arts. I picked Metal Shop. She thought about it and decided that my energy would be too much for that teacher and off I was into Theater Arts. Writing followed this path into acting very naturally. It was something I already loved so having a structure to place around my story was exciting.
As far as filmmaking goes, I blame Beyonce and Jay Z. In 2011, I had an idea for an animated comedy. I thought it was dumb until someone I respected suggested I go for it. I raised a small budget through Kickstarter and made a parody animated music video that now has over 360k views. Looking at the final product, that was the birth of Blue Ivy Carter as a spoof idea, and for me and my filmmaking; this was only the beginning.
What obstacles have you faced specifically because of your gender? God, do we have enough space to list them all?
Sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sexual misconduct happen whether I am in front of the camera or behind it. This is obviously one of the more terrifying of the obstacles plaguing the film industry.
As a producer, I am often in a position to pitch my projects in hopes of raising money. When I am pitching to women, they ask about the stories, my goals, my message, the “Why’s.” When I pitch to men, I am very often asked about how I would handle hypothetical problems, then proceed to tell me how they would fix them. The men, often, anticipate my failure, while the women assume my success.
Best thing to ever happen to you to remind you that you are a woman? When you work in any male-dominated industry like the film industry, you never forget that you’re a woman.
Work you are most proud of? The work I am most proud of depends on what I currently have my attention on. I am very proud of the Batwoman audition I did (that was leaked) even though I did not book the job.I am very proud of my film TESTING (currently streaming on Amazon) because working with actor Jay Hayden, and director Christopher Leps made me step up my game and took my craft to a new level. That was also my first trifecta project, writing, acting and producing. I am also incredibly proud of my top of show guest star on Grey’s Anatomy. That show is a force of nature and so well done. The diversity behind the camera is reflected in the stories and, I think, is a huge reason why the show continues to be such an epic success. Some days, completing all the items on the checklist makes me proud.
Do you think the #metoo movement has created significant change? It’s a very slow burn, but I do believe the beginning of all change happens with awareness. Most people are completely oblivious or purposely ignorant to the power play over others, sexually or otherwise. I was assaulted by the director of a film I shot in Detroit. He entered my hotel room without being invited. I thought we were friends, I believed he respected me. I was wrong.
A lot of the #metoo movement survivors are my heroes. I applaud all the people who have publicly called our their assailants. I hope one day I am strong enough to say his name and share what happened.
How have professional attitudes towards women evolved during your career? I would say that in the last few years I have even MORE respect and compassion for all the women I work with. I see myself in all of them. I feel a strong pull to champion the women I’ve aligned with, in film production and when mentoring younger actors. I am constantly looking to better my own awareness and communication specifically around the females I have the privilege of working with.
Trapped on an island, what essentials must you have? A way to write. Laptop (with solar power?) Grub hub. Hair ties. A boat, for when I get stir-crazy.
If you had a time machine, what would you say to your past self? All of your instincts have been correct, trust them. Stop eating gluten, you’ll find out it makes you sick. Oh! And don’t do featured background work in that Miles Teller movie, when he kisses you in the festival scene, you’re gonna get a 2-week super virus and it’s not worth it.
If you could have a one-on-one with anyone who would it be? And why? Industry-wise: It would be writer/producer/showrunner, Barbara Hall. I am obsessed with Madame Secretary. She has such a consistently strong voice in all her shows and I think she attacks complex topics with grace and compassion in a way that not a lot of voices on tv are interested in doing.Non-film/tv: Kyrsten Sinema. She is the first openly bisexual woman sworn into Congress. As a bisexual woman myself, I would be super geeked to pick her brain about her life and her dreams.
To see the up-to-date list of Reel Women, click here.