Ashley Chiu is an actress based in New York. Her artistic journey began at the age of 7 while watching a production of The Sound of Music in her community. She took up dance classes, which lead to formal theatre training at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, where she received a BFA in Drama. After performing in Jimmy Kimmel’s 2019 live show, she’s about to make her Broadway debut in Once Upon a One More Time, a new musical featuring the songs of Britney Spears set to premiere this November! Her goals for future projects? To make representation in mainstream media the norm. Chiu advises young artists to “[be the] bravest, boldest, and best way to make a path for [themselves] as an artist is to be nothing but yourself.” Read on to learn more about Ashley Chiu and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Name: Ashley Chiu
Hometown: San Francisco
Current City: New York
Current project: Most recently, Once Upon a One More Time, a new musical coming out November 2022 (stay tuned!), and recently made my network TV guest star debut on FBI: Most Wanted Season 3!
What are some of your favorite credits/projects?
Kimmel does a live show in Brooklyn every year, and in November 2019 I was on his live show in a segment called "Bagel Boss, the Musical"
Any advice for young people getting into the arts?
The bravest, boldest, and best way to make a path for yourself as an artist is to be nothing but yourself. The truth of who you are is the most interesting thing you can possibly share with the world.
How did you get your start?
At age 7 I saw a production of the Sound of Music at my local community theater and I told my mom "I want to do that!" Around the same time, I started ballet and dance classes which was the first discipline I trained in, and eventually I was doing musicals and learning to sing and act as well.
Do you have any favorite moments in your career that you'd like to share?
My parents were visiting in NYC when I got “the call” about Once Upon a One More Time. They were over the moon and I had enough time to set up a camera to tell them the news. I captured their reaction, and it has been absolutely priceless. I owe so so much to my parents and sister and to have them with me when I celebrate big moments in my career are the favorite moments of my career because MY career would not be possible without them.
What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career?
The relationship I have with myself has been the hardest thing to maintain while I navigate this career. Oftentimes in this industry, it feels like I am waiting for someone else to give me an opportunity, to pick me, to cast me, and during those times the authority I am left to face is myself. Actors don't get a lot of feedback about why they didn't get jobs and so it's a little bit of human nature to start rationalizing to ourselves. Sometimes my inner critic can go to dark places, especially when I'm not busy or I don't feel I have working momentum. During these times, I do my best to ensure that I outsmart my own inner critic by confirming that I'm doing the best work I possibly can, continue to be hungry for my work to be better, and most importantly, to be sure that the narrative I have of myself doesn't solely exist around being an actor, but being a whole person with a lot of curiosity.
When did you know you wanted to have a career in the arts?
Funnily enough, it wasn't until early 2019 that I was finally able to say "I want to be on Broadway''. I had grown up doing competitive dance, performing in musicals throughout school and my community theater, and then moved to New York City at 18 to get a BFA in Drama from NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and through it all I couldn't fathom a career in the arts – much less admit I wanted one. I was out of school for a year and a half with an off-broadway and national tour credit before I could admit to myself what everyone else around me knew: I wanted to DO this, and I was going to do this. I manifested being on Broadway in January 2019 and by December of that year I got the call that I would be in the original company of the Britney Spears musical starting out of town in Chicago and then moving to Broadway shortly after. The pandemic threw a wrench in the original blueprint but I am hopeful that I will be on Broadway soon.
Did you have any interesting “odd jobs” you worked at between gigs to pay the bills?
During the pandemic I worked at a real estate law firm for 11 months! I thought about going to law school a lot in college, mostly because I was afraid I couldn't make a living for myself as a "creative" and that I needed to do something more "practical". During the pandemic, I finally took the opportunity to see what life would be like in a law firm. I am very grateful for that experience because it got me through an incredibly difficult time and taught me a lot about myself. I respect the folks I met there so much and I am no longer afraid of the desire I had for non-creative, practical work because I believe I need both the creative and practical parts of myself to be the best version of myself.
What are some goals you hope to achieve?
My goal is to put more folks that look like me in the media. It was a beautiful moment when I watched Crazy Rich Asians in 2018 and felt seen for the first time, but I don't want people to feel that way. It made me question why I had never seen that before, why it had taken so long, and I was scared of how long it would be until I would see myself on screen in such a way again. I want it to be completely normal for people like me to see themselves on screen and onstage, I want it to be something that my baby cousins grow up with, something they never question, something that they grow up with that can empower them to dream bigger.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love getting to share it with people. Art and creativity never happen in a vacuum, and in theatre it is always a collaboration between myself and so many other people. That collaboration, the freedom of it, I wouldn't trade that for anything. It is so electric and essential to creating together and I cherish that time.
If you could name one point in time when everything changed for you, what was it?
The first time I really listened to my heart was at the crossroads of deciding where I would go to college and what I would study. There was a pivotal night when I had to tell my parents I wanted to go to drama school, it was the first time my heart forced me to listen. It was painful, and it was the scariest thing I've ever done. That moment changed my life.
To find out more about Ashley Chiu, please visit her at:
Instagram and TikTok: @ashleychiuchiu
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