Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashley-Lauren Elrod.
So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Yes, I’d love to and thanks for having me! I like to consider myself a triple-threat performer in which I’m represented by DDO Artists, and a boutique productions company owner currently living in New York City. I have done everything from Casting to production design and photography through my company Visionary Woman Productions for projects such as Shameless, Teacher, Soul Sessions, Revlon, and more!
If you dig a little deeper, I am a child abuse survivor who is now becoming a broader voice for the broken by sitting on the Board of Advisors for the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center, who helped to prosecute my abuser over fifteen years ago. I’m leading a ministry for sexual abuse survivors and currently studying to receive my mental health counseling certification. All while preparing to enter into production for my second EP ‘Revival’ which will be released under FBP Music and Global Sound Group, in which I’m completely overjoyed! In combination with my activism and leadership, music has been a therapeutic way to inspire others through song as well as to raise awareness, as a percentage of proceeds have always gone directly back to this cause, and every show I have done has been a benefit show.
I started off young, always performing and staying creative, as it was greatly beneficial and life-saving with everything I was going through behind closed doors. Before graduation, it was either art school or state school to become an equine vet and join a prestigious riding team to attempt the Olympic dream, as I was a competitive equestrian winning rider growing up. Yeah, I know y’all are thinking, “has this girl had ten lives!?” by now. Ha! Extra. Anywho, I got into that thankfully due to a friend of the family who was a trainer, and that whole experience also played a big role in saving my life, as horses are these soulful and inspiring beings to be around. It was my therapy and my outlet to keep focused on life and not stray off to a different path which could have easily happened.
Long story short, I kept riding, and actually ended up riding in a historic riding hall with this amazing equestrian theater troupe, Noble Horse Theater, along with choosing to go to art school. I put my foot to the pedal those four years and drove myself hard, got the internship I wanted, jumped on sets to be an extra which led me to getting signed and getting roles before graduation, and I stayed networking and building genuine friendships with others, many of whom are still in my corner to this day. If you would have told me I would be where I am making my own version of success and thriving in the toughest city in America, I would have probably laughed! Not that I ever doubted my work ethic or talent, but honestly the doors that have opened in my life in the timing that they’ve open have all been God-ordained and for that I am grateful. It also helps when you stay genuine and hungry for evolution of self in which I always make sure that I am so I can help others before myself. My good friend Lauryn always says “the people you pass on the way up may be the same people you pass on the way down” meaning you could be up one moment and down the next, and what determines what happens next is how you made people FEEL. I always make sure I’m leaving a light wherever I go, and I am making people feel not only included, but wanted and connected to something. That is the meaning of life; helping others to be the best version of themselves while you work to do the same.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My. Gosh. It has been the craziest, bumpiest, ugliest, ratchet, beautiful road ever to get to this point! Ha.
Let’s be real here if anyone ever was like “the road has been glorious my whole life”, sorry sis, but something maybe a bit off.
I have worked several jobs at once, and a few times worked two full-time jobs while attempting to perform and run a small business. I have nannied for the best families, I have worked in customer service, I have cleaned up disgusting bathrooms, I have managed a food chain, I have passed out flyers, I have traveled near and far.
I have worked myself to sickness which almost took my life, and I have worked myself into depression which almost did the same. I have had people do the craziest things to me in this industry in regards to harassment and broken contracts. I have lost some beautiful people over the past decade to soon, my brother Gerrick included. And I honestly have died and come back to life again after my last suicide attempt seven years ago. The road has been something so broken, yet has led to many beautiful outcomes because I now truly know what is important and what is not.
The best thing about the road thus far is it’s mine and mine only. I share it with people along the way, and some of those people have stayed, many have left, some had my best interest at heart, but honestly, many did not. And that was the biggest struggle to get over starting off as a young performer and community leader and coming into adulthood now. And I had to learn to let that stuff go because at the end of it, it’s always going to be a part of the bigger picture God is trying to paint in my life. I can’t regret it, and can’t change it, so why not continue to enjoy the additional layers being added to the canvas?
The road as an entrepreneur, artist, and advocate, can be the toughest possible road someone can choose. It’s such an unpredictable battle all of the time where you are trying to make things better in a world that is stuck in toxic ways and may not want true change. Whether through the entertainment industry, or advocacy, it can be hard to be a voice that can be heard unless you’re a celebrity, and even then, the true intentions and goal may get lost in the noise.
I am blessed to have reached a point where I have built a community of Warriors which we like to call ourselves, in whom are striving daily to be a light in the purpose we were created to walk out. And that has been the most rewarding part of my journey after once striving for the superficial status of success which only left me empty. This tough road, the decisions I’ve made, the people I’ve lost and encountered, and the trauma I have overcome have led me to this next level of myself, which is truly healthy to help lead others to do the same. And that is true success in my soul.
I can create, live, and breathe who Ashley was created to be and not who the world says I should be or tries to label me to be. I am me, and I’m free to live that truth.
Can you give our readers some background on your music?
I am a singer-songwriter, signed with FBP Music, and I specialize in pop-gospel music and known for creating uplifting music for others to enjoy, which also raises funds and awareness for fellow sexual abuse survivors as well as trafficking survivors. I’m most proud of creating a movement of people who have genuinely become family from across the globe. We are called the Warriors which stemmed from my first #1 single, ‘Warrior” back when I launched in 2013 and signed a publishing deal with Viacom. These people have been my ride or die’s for over a decade, and I know about who they are, their kids, their dogs, and everything else in between. I have walked alongside many of their journeys as they have faced their own struggles, which led me to going deeper in my life to receive a certification in mental health, so I can provide even more support.
I’m also proud of the fact my artist partnership has led to me becoming a survivor speaker and now board member of the very organization that helped prosecute my abuser, the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center. Together we are going to re-create the voice and make the mission even more relatable from a survivor standpoint so people can truly understand the resources and support needed to break the cycles of abuse and serve the abused. We have much on the horizon, and I hope within the next five years to open my first safe haven for survivors to have a complete safe space for healing programs as well as entrepreneurship and leadership training for them to go forth and continue the movement.
Lastly, Visionary Woman Productions is my boutique production company which I started over ten years ago in college, and is my baby! It started off as a small photography company taking headshots for broke college students, and now I have made a name for myself from the Midwest to the East Coast in regards to production design and casting. I never thought in a million years, I would be doing what I have done and working with people like Paul Haggis and Kevin Pollak, let alone in New York City. My biggest thing has been working on projects casting people I believe will be breakout stars one day, and that brings the biggest joy to my heart. I love and am known for working with new talent because I love giving people a chance and training them to go after what they want and to do it wisely.
I believe overall, my character sets me apart, in which you will see everywhere you look online and otherwise. I am known to take care of people and to go above and beyond for others, even if it’s put me in a tough position. I care to see others rise, and if people I know are known more than I am which has already happened in several different instances, then I did something right in my opinion.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My favorite memory from childhood is and will always be our first big family vacation to Disney World!
It was a huge deal because my mom and dad really worked their way up from the bottom, literally. My dad grew up in the projects, which is greatly known as Carbrini Green, and went from that to retiring as an influential superintendent who is now a successful actor and model in whom I help to manage!
Any who, that’s another story. Back on track; my parents saved up to make our first big vacation a memorable one by reserving a limo to pick us up and take us to the airport and surprising us with the destination which ended up being Orlando. We ate breakfast at the castle. We marched in the Disney Parade, and we were one of 100 families picked to experience Animal Kingdom before it even opened! It was like an insane dream come true. They worked tremendously hard to make that happen for my brother and I, so we could see that anything was indeed possible.
Growing up, I appreciate that trip even more because my parents trained us to always believe that we could experience everything good in the world that anyone else could experience, regardless of race, job, religion, or anything else. We could literally have anything if we kept God first, stayed genuine, humble, and open for opportunity.
- Website: www.ashleylaurensmusic.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ashleylaurenofficial/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VisionaryWomanProductions
- Other: www.visionarywomanproductions.com
Personal Image: Diana Davis Creative; Photos Page: #3 – Alina Tsvor, #4; Diana Davis Creative, #7: Josh Wool, #8: Chollette