Ashley D. Merritt is one of the most talented artist around. Ashley can now be seen co-starring in late singer Christina Grimmie’s final four music videos, as well as will be appearing in the new AMC drama, “The Son.” We are sharing our recent conversation with Ashley here.
Twist Online : First of all please introduce yourself to our readers?
Ashley D. Merritt : I am Ashley D. Merritt and I’m your standard American Millennial, 90s kid who’s all about acting, dancing, modeling, inspiring the spread of positivity and gluten free cupcakes.
Twist Online : You started your career at a very young age. What inspired you to join the industry?
Ashley D. Merritt : I wish I could pinpoint the exact moment in time I decided on this life path, but I think I’m going to have to go with the cliché “it chose me” statement. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know I wanted to be an artist. I was sort of self aware as young as four years old that I had a way of entertaining people. I felt it was my life purpose and happy place to bring joy and light to others.
There was a defining moment when I was about 10. I had been asked to be a guest performer at a local university’s Miss Black pageant. I had choreographed a solo dance to the Black National Anthem and received a standing ovation from a packed theatre. I could feel the energy, I could feel I had moved people. It was a reassuring moment that this is my path.
Twist Online : Appearing in late singer Christina Grimmie’s final four music videos must be an emotional feeling now?
Ashley D. Merritt : It has been a rollercoaster. It’s the project that has left the biggest impact on my life. It was such a high working with Christina. Watching how hard she worked, how down to earth she was and how much talent she packed in her perfect pitch voice was incredibly inspiring to me. She was so relatable in the way of being a young performer in this crazy industry. Working with her refreshed my drive to keep working hard and always stay true to myself and my uniqueness. She embodied these values.
When we lost her, I was so upset and even angry. We all felt at such a loss for losing her light she brought to this world. Whether you knew her from just briefly meeting her or knowing her all her life, you immediately felt that devastated feeling of losing something so special the world will never see another of.
Viewing the videos for the first time after she passed, there was a flood of tears because I was upset she wasn’t here to enjoy this moment we all worked so hard for. She was supposed to be with us and enjoying the excitement of the endless possibilities and the product of all her hard work. She was robbed of this moment and many more to follow. I do have a new appreciation for life and my career as I carry her memory with me in hopes of continuing that spread of light and goodness she possessed.
Twist Online : Any specific kind of role you want to play at least once in your career?
Ashley D. Merritt : It’s JANE, Jane Bond. This has been a fantasy of mine for a while. I’d love to see a female takeover of the brand! If anything, I look forward to portraying strong, empowering women. I’d love to be a player in this movement led by awesome filmmakers like Lena Dunham, for example. I hope and pray for a career full of statements towards acceptance, unity and love in ways that haven’t been entirely explored in cinema yet.
Twist Online : What’s your best working experience so far?
Ashley D. Merritt : One of my best working experiences has been my most rewarding. I’ve had the awesome opportunity of working with Life Church TV, which is the amazing media production studio of the global Life Church community. Most recently I worked on a project called “The Bee Squad,” which is a teenage mini-series that explored emotional themes of anxiety, depression, anger and growing up. Mental health is a very important issue to me personally and working on a project with that platform for young adults was very fulfilling to me. The best part was hearing feedback from youth group leaders of how my character “Jill” who struggled with anger and family issues resonated in a big way with many of the kids, especially the girls.
Twist Online : You will be appearing in the AMC drama, “The Son.” Can you share more details about that with our readers?
Ashley D. Merritt : I play a character named “Tiny Dove” who is a member of the Comanche tribe that drives the storyline of the cultural tensions in West Texas during the oil boom era. There’s much still under wraps, but I can say of what I’ve seen of the footage and recently released trailers, I think AMC has done it again with another hit drama that will inspire a lot of discussion on what it means to be American. I encourage everyone to check out the show on www.amc.com and stay tuned for the release in April 2017!
Twist Online : Are you working on any other new projects? When will it/they be released?
Ashley D. Merritt : Right now I am co-developing a TV pilot with my best filmmaker friends called “Sequences,” which is a juicy action drama set in a post-nuclear America. It’s in its early stages of development but something I’m excited to share more about next year!
I also have a couple of live performances coming up theatrically and in dance as well in Houston and Dallas, Texas, so shout out to my fellow Texan readers – follow me on social media as I’ll be posting updates on these events very soon!
Twist Online : Are you active on social media? What’s the best way to follow you?
Ashley D. Merritt : Heck ya! I’m on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. All are just my name “Ashley D. Merritt.” For Instagram, just add underscores – @Ashley_D_Merritt