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Meet Bree Ashton

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bree Ashton.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I moved to California when I was 18 to attend San Diego State University in 2015. Being artistic throughout my life, I was set on a fine arts degree and then a creative career since I was young. I started out majoring in graphic design but quickly found after one semester that I just didn’t enjoy it. I was always interested in working for TV and film companies, so I took a leap of faith and switched my major to film production, something I knew almost nothing about. Although it was brand new to me, I knew it was going to be better than staying in something I wasn’t passionate about. After two years in the program, and finishing my degree in December of 2019, I finally discovered what exactly I wanted to do with my career — produce major motion pictures. With LA being the center for the film industry, I moved up from San Diego to start looking for work.

Despite my career wanting to be behind the camera, I also found that I love working in front of it as well. I began modeling about a year ago doing freelance work with various photographers around San Diego. I loved expressing myself in a different way and being vulnerable to the camera. I truly believe that the camera brings out a side of you that you don’t even realize. Being 4’9 and Asian American, I want to use my modeling career to help bring about representation in such a predominantly white field, where it’s considered “industry standard” to have unrealistic body types. I continue to work freelance around LA with many great photographers who also want to work their way up, and I eventually would love to sign to an agency that accepts petite models.

In addition to working in front of the camera via modeling, I recently became interested in starting a YouTube channel as well. Posing in front of the camera is an artistic process in itself, but I would love to take it a step further so I can not only get my face known but my personality as well. I want my channel to emulate all of the times I spend with my friends on a daily basis so that people can see how I am in my normal life. The channel is in the works right now, and I’m hoping to start getting videos out by the middle of the summer!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Of course, none of this process has been 100% smooth for me.

In college, even after I switched my major, I didn’t really have a solid plan in what I wanted to do. Most people didn’t when we first started, but after a year, it seemed a lot of my colleagues had decided and started to advance in their preferred “niches”. It was frustrating to see everyone around me be so decisive and become better when I didn’t even know where to start. I was never too technically savvy, but I’ve always had a good sense of organization. I chose producing because it’s creative enough but is very logistics-based, and heavily involves interpersonal communication. Being highly interested in solo traveling, I absolutely love planning and making lists, which also makes the job well-fitting for me. The most ironic part is that I specifically remember going into the major and thinking that one of the last things I would want to do is produce because I didn’t have enough attention to detail, and here I am three years later making it my career. The film industry today is dominated by older white men, which is something that is in the midst of changing, but I know it’s going to be a long road ahead of us. However, I am incredibly grateful to be able to be working at a time where I have the opportunity to make my voice heard as a woman and a minority.

The modeling industry is incredibly cut-throat. You can be “industry standard” and still get rejected time after time. As a 4’9 Asian-American woman in an industry that is predominantly white and most of the bodies represented are at least a foot taller than me, it puts a lot more difficulty on my part trying to put myself out there. Being petite, I am unable to even be considered for runway or editorial fashion because of something that I was born with. Most agencies have a height requirement of at least 5’8, and hundreds of minorities are rejected because the agencies already have “people who look like them”. It’s extremely frustrating. Working freelance gives me the choice to choose who I want to work with, and I have found that freelance photographers are more willing to give you a helping hand with connections and future work. I am aware that there are so many boundaries in front of me in this industry just because of my height alone, and other boundaries because I am a minority, but I’m determined to keep pushing for the sake of other Asian women especially, who are forced to keep looking at only tall white women in the media and subconsciously believing that their looks aren’t beautiful enough to be represented.

I am currently in the midst of starting a YouTube channel, and I am experiencing all of the hardships that are required of this process first-hand. Filming yourself, doing your own sound, editing, coloring, it’s incredibly time-consuming and it’s a job in itself. Doing all of that on top of having an actual job gives me very little free time. It’s very difficult to schedule shooting around work, and then you have to do the entire process of editing, which takes even longer than shooting. As a filmmaker, I’ve always known what it takes to put together a production from start to finish, but this has given me a new perspective on making online content, and even more respect for YouTube creators.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am a film producer, I am a petite model, and I will soon be a YouTube creator.

As I have mentioned, both the film industry and the modeling industry are predominantly white. As an Asian-American, I want to bring minority representation to both of these.

In the film industry, as a producer, I want to make it a top priority to have diverse casts and crews. As a woman in a male-dominated industry that is known for its sexual assault dangers, I want to create a safe space for women to audition and work. There are so many instances where female actors are presented with the ultimatum of having sexual contact with the producer, or not getting a role. Not only do I personally want, but we NEED this industry to be better. Women as working professionals need to feel like they can apply and be chosen for their talent rather than misconduct. I want to be known that none of that will be tolerated in any of the films that I work on. When it comes to my films, I want to create stories that keep the audience thinking about bigger issues, rather than just seeing a show. Theatrics can be beautiful, and aesthetic is important, but the power that television and film hold today holds too much potential for stories to not be told.

As a model, I want to make sure that Asian women especially feel that they are represented. Growing up in the early 2000s, there were hardly ANY Asian women in the media, television and films and models; I felt like I wasn’t pretty enough because I didn’t look white. I started making impossible comparisons to myself and all of these Caucasian models who I could never look like, and it frustrated me. I don’t want any more young Asian women to feel like they can’t see people who look like them. We’ve made the strides to incorporate other body types, but I definitely feel that the modeling industry has a lot more work to do when it comes to diversity in both race and height. No more impossible body standards that encourage eating disorders and poor body image.

I’ve always loved the idea of the world getting to know me just as my close friends do, so I’m pushing to see this YouTube channel through. I want to make something different than the typical bloggers you see every day, I want to cut the fake things and make something real. I have a very no-BS personality, so I want my channel to match that energy I carry myself. Even after I get into the process of uploading, I know how hard it is to make your channel known, but I am somehow confident enough that if I take the right steps, people will know my name. How typically LA to say of me.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
When it comes to film production, I definitely would have used the free time I had in school to sharpen my technical skills and learn more about cameras, lighting, and editing software. Although producing doesn’t always deal with the technical side of filmmaking, all skills are always helpful and make you more of an asset on set. I am still very early in my career, so I will be taking the time now to be learning those skills as I go and paying more attention as I am presented with new information.

I don’t think I would have really changed anything so far with my modeling career. I probably would have shot more often over the past year if I had to say one thing, but I’m only a year in, and I’m doing everything freelance, so I’m learning as I go. I’m glad I was more willing to work independently rather than get signed to an agency super quick because I did my research on how agencies can end up doing more harm than good in some cases.

I probably would have started my YouTube channel a little earlier, but I honestly didn’t really spark an interest enough until about a month ago. I haven’t put anything out yet, so I’m really taking this pre-production time to make everything the best that it can be, because of the importance of a good quality final product. Quality over quantity.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Chris McCoy, Max Baker, Frank Marced, Adrian Guiterrez, Jesus Lopez

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