Ashley Sugarman is an actress who appears in the web series Lost at Da Jersey Shore and the film Casting Couch; here is a link to her YouTube page:
Q: What made you interested in acting?
A: I actually started out as a dancer when I was a kid. I competed almost every weekend and then when I was about 16 I started backup dancing for a local singer in Florida and we got to perform and travel for years. I loved being on stage and becoming someone different. I realized I become more comfortable taking on a different persona in front of people. I also just love being around the entertainment business in general. I decided to take some acting classes at a local college in Florida and decided that I loved and wanted to pursue it. I learn something new about what I want all the time. One day I’ll realize I love writing, then theater, then managing other people too. I really just want to tap into it all.
Q: What kind of training have you had?
A: I took theater classes at a local college in Florida and when I moved out to LA I took scene study classes with a great coach Vinny Guastaferro. I then decided I wanted to try improv classes so I took classes at Upright Citizens Brigade which I loved! They were so much fun! Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of plays which I think always keep you sharp. I somehow always have the luck of getting cast last minute so it’s great practice when you have a day or two to learn all of your lines!
Q: What is Lost at Da Jersey Shore about?
A: Lost at Da Jersey Shore is a mash up of LOST and MTV’s Jersey Shore. The Jersey Shore cast gets stuck on an island with the LOST characters. It was perfect timing because when it came out, Jersey Shore was at it’s peak and LOST was just ending so it had so much hype.
Q: What role do you play?
A: I played the beloved Snooki. She is such a unique reality TV character and so much fun to play.
Q: How did you go about preparing for the role?
A: Luckily I was a big Jersey Shore fan so I already knew all of her mannerisms, story lines, accent and outfits. Sadly enough, my sister had some of her exact wardrobe in her closest so I put all of her exact outfits together. I listened to her whine about a thousand times to get it perfect and studied her accent. I have an airbrush machine at home so I airbrushed my face orange every time I would audition or go to set. I was a huge LOST fan so it helped that I can incorporate Snooki’s character with the LOST characters because I already knew everything about them. The hardest part was actually getting my Snooki “poof” to stay. It was really exciting when Snooki herself saw the series and talked about it on a NY radio station and then her and Pauly D tweeted about it.
Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it effect your pursuit of an acting career?
A: This has been the hardest struggle for me. People make it seem so easy but its not. Financially, I need a full time job with benefits to live out here. I was working in retail and styling which allowed me to have two days off during the week and if I got an audition, I had to pray it fell on one of my days off, or try to rearrange my whole work schedule. I remember booking the play “The Columbine Project” that performed on weekends and I had to leave work early for a few months and I thought my boss was going to kill me. I remember I wasn’t allowed to leave work too early so I had to sit in traffic on the 405 praying I would make it on time and at the same time listen to depressing music to get me in the right mind frame for the show. It’s tough. I always like to have my day free on show days so I can relax and not rush, but it doesn’t always work that way. Luckily, I just got approached to work for a publicist part time helping her out so I finally am leaving my retail job. I’m so excited to be around “the business” and learn as much as I can and soak up everything. Having a job sucks period, but if it’s in an industry that interests you than it’s not so bad. I also started managing hip hop dancers on the side. My sister is a hip hop dancer for film and TV and I have so many ideas and opportunities to build her brand. As an actor, I’m always trying to figure out how to branch out and create new and exciting opportunities for myself and I’m excited to do it for dancers as well. The two industries are so different so it’s cool to tap into both. It’s letting me be creative and business minded at the same time.
Q: What is Casting Couch about?
A: Casting Couch is so hilarious because it’s so “LA.” It’s about a group of guys who don’t have much game and can’t get the ladies attention so they decided to make a fake movie and cast a bunch of hot actresses in their “movie.” They put up a casting searching for each of their dream girls. It was written and directed by my brilliant friend Jason Lockhart.
Q: What role do you play? I play Iris, one of the girls auditioning for the “movie”. It was so inspiring to see the whole process for this movie be made with all of my friends. The whole cast and crew were so passionate about this project and whether the roles were leads or smaller roles, everyone got together for pool parties and barbeques and celebrated when it got distribution.
Q: What do you like about Hollywood?
A: The sushi, mostly. Just kidding. I like the lifestyle and the fact that you can have a business meeting or go over a script at a cool outside cafe on a Wednesday afternoon and its still considered “working.” It has a hustle but it’s chill at the same time. I lived in NYC for years and there is so much going on there that it was hard to focus on the big picture and what I really wanted to do.
Q: What would you change about it?
A: A lot. I don’t like the fact that when you meet someone, one of the first questions they will ask you is “what do you do?” It bothers me so much. What do I do? I cook, I go to the dog park, I watch cheesy scary movies, I sit at a park and people watch. I do a lot of things and I’ll never answer that question with “acting.” If someone straight up asks my occupation and I am a steadily working actor then I’ll answer with that. Also, a lot of people put so much time into their “craft” when they don’t realize it’s all around them. Living life is one of the best (and cheapest) acting classes you can get. Talk to homeless people, go on blind dates, join a magic class. Some people get so caught up into “making it” that they forget to actually enjoy life and have fun. I genuinely feel that everyone’s time will come where they get their “big break” and you shouldn’t stress yourself out waiting for it.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)