Tell about yourself, Ashlei!
My name is Ashlei and I was born and raised in Los Angeles. Growing up in the entertainment industry, I always had a passion for music, television and film. My dad would put me in sports and we always did pretty adventurous things so that helped nurture my love of action and excitement. I went to school for TV and film production with my eyes set on becoming a producer.
Along the way, I've held almost every position on a set to absorb as much knowledge as possible to be a better producer. I somehow got hooked on stunts and have thoroughly enjoyed it more than anything else I've ever done.
What inspired you to become a stunt person?
Family friend Matthew Sigloch hired me to do some tactical work on CASTLE years ago. He knew of my athletic and spontaneous background so he asked if I wanted to get shot that day. Of course, I didn't turn this down so that became my first experience with stunts. Have loved the art of it ever since.
What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it?
My greatest skill would be my curious nature and desire for information. I am always wanting to learn how things are made and what amount of work goes into a stunt. Aside from that, riding motorcycles is my personal best!
What is the best part about being a stunt performer?
For me, the best part is meeting people from all over with so many different skills and personalities. Being a minority woman who rides a motorcycle, also has taught me so much about this industry. Getting to see the behind the scenes and being a part of the bigger picture makes it all worth the training and hard work when my son sees me on screen and says, "Whoa mom thats so cool!"
Tell your all-time personal favorite stunt story!
My absolute favorite stunt story has to be the time I worked for Tyler Perry. I have always been a fan of him and his work ethic. He started from nothing and became a huge producer. I was brought in to double a LEGEND, Shari Belafonte (Harry Belafonte's daughter) on a motorcycle. It wasn't until I was halfway through my day that the coordinator told me it was Tyler's personal Harley.
At lunch, they let me ride it around his studios to get comfortable and I couldn't help but have an awe moment. I was riding a motorcycle, one of my favorite things to do, and it just so happens to be my favorite producer's Harley, riding around his personal studio that he built on a confederate military base. As an African American woman aspiring to be a producer, this was a life changing moment. I remind myself everyday, anything is possible.
What advice would you give other stunt people?
The biggest advice I can give is be respectful! This can mean so many things but a couple of points; you never know where someone is coming from or their struggles. How hard it took them to get to this point and although they may not be as good as you, that is no reason to talk down to them, remember you were there once. And lastly, be respectful of the people who DO train and have the skills for the job.
I've seen so many people submit to things they are nowhere near qualified for, just for a paycheck. That is the most dangerous thing you can do in this business. Other than that, keep training, stay focused on your goals, and don't listen to the nay sayers who don't believe in you. Keep pushing forward and surround yourself with people who are EXPERIENCED and will tell you the truth!
Anything else you would like to tell the community about?
Stay safe out there!