(Photo courtesy: Gianna Dorsey Photography)
Fancy yourself a certified member of the #Beyhive? If so, the name Ashley Everett is one you should know all too well.
In our ongoing quest to shine light on the worker bees that buzz behind-the-scenes of our favorite stars, That Grape Juice was elated to chat with the famed dancer/choreographer. Best known for her stint with the Queen Bey – Grammy-winning diva Beyonce – Everett has amassed quite an impressive career of her own.
With work for Tina Turner and many other A-listers aboard her resume, Everett sat down for an exclusive chat with TGJ to dish on what it’s like working for the ‘Single Ladies’ singer, shed light on her own forthcoming ventures into acting, and much more.
Tuck in below for more on the lady who has taken the dance world by storm…
(Photo courtesy: Joe Wesley Photography)
TGJ: Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us Ashley!
Ashley: Thank you for making time for little ole me!
TGJ: Not a problem at all! So, we know a lot of Beyonce fans know you. But, for those who are unfamiliar with your story, share a bit about it.
Ashley: I am just a little girl from a small town in Northern California who loves to dance. I’ve been dancing since I was in the womb (laughs). I danced throughout my childhood – ballet, hip hop, lyrical, all that.
When I was 16, my mom pushed me to the next level. So, we moved to New York so I could pursue dance as a career. There, I trained at the Alvin Ailey Dance Company.
TGJ: Amazing! Now, tell us a bit more about your story pre-Beyonce. Who influenced you to really pursue dance?
Ashley: I remember being a young girl and I loved Janet Jackson. I loved watching her in videos and just remember wanting to do that.
TGJ: So, as you navigated your way through the industry, what are some things you found most surprising?
Ashley: I’ve learned a lot of this industry is not just “what you know, but who you know.” That is, to some degree, true. But, it’s really what you know that really gets you hired. Who you know helps get you seen, but your talent has to speak for itself to keep you there.
I tell everybody who pursues this industry to work hard, do your homework, study, and train! Your connections can only get you so far. Is it political and shady sometimes? Yes. Sometimes it’s not fair, but that’s the nature of the business.
TGJ: Awesome. So, how’d you link up with Beyonce?
Ashley: I met Beyonce and her choreographer [Frank Gatson] one day in the halls of “Alvin Ailey” after class. He stopped me, asked me about my style of dance, then he brought me into the rehearsal where I met Bey. He took my information, then I never heard from him again (laughs).
Fast forward two months later, when Bey was promoting her 2007 tour, I went to an open call with thousands of people. Frank recognized me, kept me until the end, then had Beyonce see me dance. It started with a video appearance, which later turned into a tour. Now, here we are!
TGJ: We know you get asked this question all the time. But, how is Beyonce and how is it working for her?
Ashley: It is an honor to be part of her camp. I’m always learning from her. We all work very hard because we can’t have a hardworking artist and no one else work as hard. She encourages us to push just as hard as she does.
I’m blessed and thankful to be in the family. She is a sweetheart and very down-to-earth. She’s very smart, about her business, and has been in the industry for a long time. That didn’t happen by chance. So, it’s an honor to be associated with her name.
TGJ: We bet! And, now that you have so many years of dance experience under your belt, have you considered any other avenues? We saw you act in the ‘Heaven’ video and were impressed!
Ashley: Thank you! And, yes, it’s definitely something I’m trying to explore. It’s hard with touring, so I haven’t been able to completely commit to it like I’d like. With some of these new videos coming out, I was a featured actor. I do want to try that out and tap into a bit more.
I think all performers are actors at the end of the day. Once we get on stage, we get to be someone else other than who we are in real life. I love to entertain and put on a show, so I’d love to be able to act more.
(Photo courtesy: Joe Wesley Photography)
TGJ: Awesome! Now, as with many interviews, we have a segment called “Five From Fans” where we received five questions from our readers for you.
Ashley: Ok, let’s do it!
TGJ: 1) Like Paula Abdul before, would you ever consider being a choreographer/singer?
Ashley: I have explored it in the past, but I don’t think it’s for me. I’m not fully opposed, but that’s not the route I’m trying to go.
TGJ: 2) Besides Beyonce, who have you been the most excited to work with to date?
Ashley: I was very excited to work with Tina Turner. I was so honored to work with her because I grew up with my mom loving her and always playing her music. She’s an icon, so it was a huge deal when I got to share the stage with her.
TGJ: 3) We recently celebrated what would’ve been Aaliyah’s 35th birthday. Did she have any influence on you?
Ashley: I loved Aaliyah. She absolutely influenced me. I can relate to her a lot because she was more of a tomboy. I think she had a bit of an impact on me growing up. I loved and looked up to her.
TGJ: 4) How much did you know about the secret ‘Beyonce’ album before it dropped?
Ashley: I knew all along (laughs)!! I kept my mouth shut, because that’s the name of the game working with Bey.
TGJ: 5) What advice do you have for up-and-coming dancers?
Ashley: If you really want to do this as a career, the more diverse you are and training under your belt, it works for you. Train in everything. Ballet, tap, jazz, modern, contemporary, hip hop, ballroom, do it all. The more you have and can show everybody, that just provides endless opportunities.
TGJ: We are very much at the beginning of the year. Tell us what else does 2014 have in store for you.
Ashley: Right now, I’m in Vegas and working with Frank Gatson to assist him with revamping the longest lasting Showgirls show on the Vegas strip. We just started the process and we’re updating it to give it some modern flair.
To be a part of the creative process of redoing the Jubilee Show at Bally’s Casino is an amazing experience. It opens in March, but since I’ll be on tour with Beyonce, I won’t see the end of it.
Interview by: Rashad Taylor (That Grape Juice US)