A Blooming Gem On Set | Ashley McArthur
Updated: Oct 16, 2020
The timing couldn't be perfect it seems. You hear the quote "timing is everything" and for women in the entertainment industry, especially, "ethnic/women of color" well, in Film or TV, "time" seems so ripe. With multi-talented women such as: Ava Duvernay, Shonda Rhimes, Erica Shelton Kodis, Janine Sherman Barrois, Mindy Lahiri, and Issa Rae... well, they are kicking ass behind the scenes and I m loving it! . . .
It helps me to stay encouraged and understand my timing in my career as a woman from a multi-cultural background and environment, who aspires to write, dp (director of photography), produce, and act in her own projects or create for others. My stories and projects are true to my life. So, they are filled with diversity like my real life. These women are taking stands and thrones, that would otherwise be reserved for white males before any female. And because of those walls broken and the paths that have been created; it has been so empowering and amazing these past 7 years or so.
I have to admit Oprah did a huge thing for us all. Although, I loved women before and still do such as: Katherine Bigelow, known for "Point Break, Near Dark and Hurt Locker", Mira Nair, known for " Monsoon Wedding, Mississippi Masala, and The Namesake" and Sanaa Hamri, known for " Something New, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 and Just Wright" starring Common. There are many more talented women out there that we haven't heard of yet but they are "under the radar" as these women once were and timing is perfecting itself for them as well. So, if you aren't paying attention you might miss out.
One day, maybe you were reading Essence Mag or roaming through YouTube and came across a recommendation of a series called "Side Chick" ? Maybe you attended the "Screening Room ATL", a networking event in Atlanta, GA at the Negril Village and saw the trailer for the series with credits of writer, director and produced by Brooklyn, NY native, Ashley McArthur. She's a graduate from Georgia Southern University with a BS in Communication and minor in Film, and has been penning various creative projects, like "The Devil Has Many Faces" (play). She sold a comedy feature to a film production company. Her list of professional crew credits include an eclectic mix of music videos, short films, plays and films. Ashley's YouTube Channel for the "Side Chick Series" has over 10,000 subscribers and over 775,336 views since it debut in 2016. It also features amazing music by dope "underground artist" and if you don't know them already, you will soon. But that's not how I came to know her.
It was an early Monday morning and I received a message from a fellow director, writer and producer, Rafael Gutierrez of "FGM STORY", whom I have assisted directed (AD) for on a few projects. He told me about this young lady who needed an AD for her production just for the day. I told him to give her my number and I'm glad I did. I love seeing women doing their "thang". I especially love it when they own it with love and humility. We are so powerful, beautiful and embodied with the skill to multi-tasked. Yes, some better than others but that is our DNA imported by "GOD". At least that's what I believe.
It was enthralling on set and the synergy with her was simple yet passionate. She trusted me to do my thing on her set and that relaxed confidence allowed me to release that Goddess in me. I was inspired to help her produce a quality day of filming. And now I'm here to introduce you to that fellow Leo and Goddess. I reached out to Ashley for an interview . . .
. . . here is my Q&A with Ashley.
1. How did you get involved with the entertainment industry?
I actually went to school for filming. Once I graduated I linked up with a few people I knew in Atlanta who were already active in the film industry and started collaborating with like minded individuals. 2. How would you describe your style as a producer?
Honestly, I'm still figuring that out. I don't believe I have a set style at the moment being that I'm still learning and growing. However, one major ingredient that I know will be included in my overall style is creating a positive environment for the team. I strongly believe in providing a space where talent feels safe to make mistakes. 3. What or Who inspired you?
There are many great inspirations in my life from family to friends. I'm truly inspired by other individuals, millennials at that, who are out in the world operating in their purpose, who aren't afraid to go against the odds and are very secure in who they are as people. 4. What do you want to be known for?
Wow. I want to be known as a leader, as a young woman who wasn't afraid to use my gift and encouraged others to find their purpose in life. I want people, especially younger women to say, "Because of her, I'm not afraid to be myself." I want to be known for a challenging people to think as well as a positive representation of Jesus Christ and a humble being that loved and cared for people.
5. You are the creator and writer for "Side Chick". Why did you want to produce this type of series?
The thought actually came once I started watching both Scandal and Power. I found myself constantly falling in love with the side chick and I was fed up. In reality I wouldn't have any respect for a side piece. I also knew of people close to me who have been in that kind of situation and I wanted to show the damage it causes on both ends. Our society has a way of making the "side chick" appear cool or the thing to do, and I need people to understand there are a lot of deep rooted issues as to why situations like this keep occurring.
6. What has been the hardest part and the best part in developing this series?
I'll start with the best part, which is building relationships with all the awesome crew and talent that I'm blessed to know. The hardest part has been trying to secure funding and trying to book locations with little to no funds.
7. What has been the response from season 1 of "Side Chick" ?
The response has been amazing. I don't think any of us expected it to take off as quickly as it did. I'm still getting comments today from viewers asking for the length to be extended and they truly seem engaged and satisfied with the storyline. I also have a lot of different networks some big and small find interest in this series so overall I can't complain. Plus, we ended the year 2016 as being "one of the top 7 best web series in 2016" by Essence.
8. You finished season 2. What can we expect in the second season?
Everyone can definitely expect a deeper and more detailed storyline with each character. The audience gets to witness Diamond as a girlfriend this season since her boo comes back. But this season we really focus a lot more on Kia's storyline and ride the emotional roller coaster she has us on. Of course this is a tad more drama but it's still tasteful. One of the most exciting things that we focused on this season was original music as well so people can expect to hear some great music created by dope artist. 9. What would you tell your younger self when it comes to the place you are now in life?
Every tear drop that falls, make them count. If people want to throw stones at you, don't catch it only to throw it back, instead write your truth and peacefully hand it back to them. I would tell her the world is one ugly place if you allow it to be, so bring light in everything you do. Create your own destiny aligned with God and keep moving forward. Only look back to reach those who need your help in pulling them forward. 10. As a producer and writer, what is your process when you are preparing for a project?
The first thing I do before writing a story is play it in my head. The entire story is finished in my mind before it ever hits paper. Yes, I end up revising, adding and changing but I usually have the story complete. The next thing I do is scout out the actors that I know will fit the role. Yup, I cast every single actor on all my projects. Once I have the talent, then I look for the right crew that can bring the vision to life.
11. You are from New York. Why did you decide to move to Atlanta?
Psst. I didn't have a choice. My mother moved to Atlanta in '07 and was basically like, "You need to come down here and get in-state tuition because I have 3 more children to send to college." I was attending Salisbury University which is in Maryland at the time and it was expensive.
12. What have been 3 key points in branding yourself and/or building your brand/series?
Believe it or not I have nothing for you. I was fortunate enough to create a few graphics to drop promoting the series before the episode dropped. However, I didn't do really much branding other than posting on social media and I didn't even do that well. Why did the series take off? God! lol
13. How does it feel to receive some acknowledgement at this stage in your career?
It's pretty cool. I'm not a fan of being in the forefront but I know it comes with the territory. But I am glad that the project as a whole is getting the acknowledgement that it deserves. Everyone has worked so hard in making it everything it is today.
14. Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
I hope to be married with 3 children. I want at least one feature film to have made it to theaters and for more doors to open to where I can continue to create stories. Some awards wouldn't hurt within 5 years either lol.
15. What advice would you give to aspiring producers and writers?
Don't stop. It's 2017, if you want to do something (that's not harmful to self or anyone else lol do it). No more excuses, there are so many stories that you can read or watch to help encourage you along the way. Don't die with your gift, it can be the very thing that opens the door for someone else to use theirs. You'll never be fulfilled until you find your purpose, so start searching today.
Looking forward to season 2 click here sidechickwebseries
Catch up and watch EP: 1 of "Side Chick" Season 1 Follow my blog on Bloglovin'