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Meet Ashley Carter of Soul Food Saves in Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashley Carter.

Ashley, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was raised in Birmingham, Alabama and was an extreme tomboy until I discovered America’s Next Top Model. I would be glued to the screen during the entire show, even the commercials, in fear of missing something. I believe I watched almost every single episode and season.

It was in those moments that I realized I wanted to be a model. Years went by and I was discovered by Wilhelmina Models (Miami office) at my mother agency in Alabama. They told me they wanted to sign me and I was so excited, my dreams were finally going to come true! Little did I know my mother would say no. She told me I could be apart of their LA office since her family lives there but Miami is not an option. Looking back, I am so thankful she did not let me go. To be honest, I was not mentally prepared. When I moved to LA, I went to Wilhelmina Models and they told me that “I didn’t have the LA look” and that “I was too Disney.” It completely crushed me. I went to almost every modeling agency in LA and they all said the same thing “I looked too Disney or cute/commercial” What was I going to do? I ran out of my savings and I knew I didn’t want to go back to Alabama.

So, I looked up commercial agencies and ended up getting into one of the top 10 commercial agency’s in LA. After booking my first job, I thought “oh, I’ll be commercial any day with this check” haha. It was much more exhilarating than modeling to me so I decided to give to my all. This led me to booking 20+ commercials, meeting my husband on set and signing with a commercial print agency. Even though I came to LA just for modeling, God opened many more doors for me and I discovered more of myself. Through modeling and commercials, I began to grow in confidence and public speaking. These artistic outlets helped prepare me for the next step in God’s call over my life to start Soul Food Saves and help people form a relationship with Christ.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a smooth road. Haha. I have come to appreciate the bumps and unexpected turns because they highlight things in you that you didn’t know were there. Whether that is things you need to get rid of like jealousy or resentment, or positive things like confidence and grit. It deepens our roots and makes us less moveable when things happen in life.

One of the biggest struggles along the way was getting over my own judgmental voice. I had to learn that just because there are thoughts in my mind doesn’t mean I have to take them into consideration. If they are making me feel unworthy or like a failure, then those thoughts are meant to set me back and I don’t have to take them. If the thoughts are compelling me to be better, then I can accept them. I had to learn how to face my fears and insecurities and listen to the thoughts that spoke the truth about who I was and whose I was. I learned that through cultivating a relationship with God. I realized that through my brightest days, like getting married to the love of my life, and my darkest days, like going through depression after having an abortion, that it is God who will always be right there with unfailing love.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Soul Food Saves – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
* Soul Food Saves is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that is devoted to helping people build and strengthen their relationship with Jesus. Our mission is for everyone be connected to the love that never fails, walk in their purpose and to have a joy that can never be taken away from them.

* We currently have a bible study that is held on the last Wednesday of every month. Now that we are in quarantine, it is virtual, of course. We typically start our bible studies off with food. Come on somebody! We all gotta eat! I personally know what it’s like to be in LA and be hungry so we like to make sure that everyone who walks through our doors is fed. We then play a game, have live praise and worship, then a message from our founder or a guest speaker.

* We also have our Leaders on Leaders gatherings. It is a small group with about ten people max. This is where we get to go deep with each and every person in the group. This meeting is dedicated to talking about questions we have in scripture and our every day lives. An example would be “How do we apply God’s word in the industries we are in?” We search for biblical answers together and grow in the kingdom of God. This is that intimate safe space we all need to cultivate vulnerability and God’s love.

* As a company, we are most proud of being a vessel for God. We are honored to be used in any capacity whether that be polishing somebody’s big toe or donating to an organization or a family in need. The fact that he has entrusted us with helping his people is an honor that we do not take lightly.

* What sets us apart is that we are a millennial-owned and millennial based nonprofit based in the heart of Los Angeles and we are consistently ridding the stereotypes of what it looks like to be followers of Jesus Christ. We are real people focused on a real God. We show our scars and our pain and we grow together in God’s love and his promises. Also, no-one is uniquely like anyone in the world so that will always set us apart.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
One of our future goals is to partner with other organizations that focus on hunger and helping abused women and children in the Los Angeles area. We have more plans and goals that I can not speak on at the moment but am excited for where we are and where we are going.

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