BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Ashley Griffin, an L.A. Actor Who Moved to NYC to Follow Her Theatre Dreams
With the current theatre world on hiatus, I have created a Spotlight Series on Broadway World which features interviews with some of the many talented artists who make our Los Angeles theatre community so exciting and vibrant thanks to their ongoing contribution to keeping the Arts alive in the City of the Angels. And just like all of us, I wondered how they are dealing with the abrupt end of productions in which they were involved. This Spotlight focuses on Ashley Griffin, an actor in Los Angeles from the age of five who moved to New York City to follow her Theatre Dreams - and is now both writing and acting in shows there.
Shari Barrett (SB): What would you like readers to know about your theatrical background, beginning in Los Angeles which led you to decide to move to NYC?
Ashley Griffin (Ashley): I'm a 5th generation Californian (possibly 6th), but I'm the first actor/dramatist in my family. I grew up at the wonderful rep company, The Santa Monica Playhouse, and made my theatrical debut when I was 5. I worked professionally as a child actor in theater, film and T.V and attended the Hamilton Academy of Music Performing Arts High School. I adore Los Angeles theatre, but was always a bit frustrated because it's much more challenging to do theatre in L.A. than in NYC since there aren't as many theatrical productions in L.A. and Broadway and touring shows rarely audition here.
It's my experience that the culture is much more T.V./Film focused here which was never my true performing interest. But I did appear quite a bit in productions at the Will Geer Theaticum Botanicum (making my Shakespeare debut when I was still a young child), as well as at Royce Hall, The Santa Monica Playhouse, the Morgan-Wixson Theater, and in touring productions, including taking the wonderful show MARY-MARY to the UK where I played Mary-Mary in London, Warwick and Stratford-Upon-Avon.
But at the end of the day, it always felt like if you wanted to do Film/T.V. you needed to be in L.A., and if you wanted to do theatre, you needed to be in NYC. After doing a good amount of Film/TV, I realized my heart was always still within a theater. So, I went to college at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and stayed in the city after graduating, but occasionally still do work in L.A. when the right opportunity presents itself.
(SB): What production(s) were you involved with when word went out you needed to immediately postpone/cancel the show?(Ashley): I'm a Broadway person, and I was literally on my way to a show when I was told Broadway was being shut down. In addition, I had just finished directing "The Middleman" at the Hudson Theater where we were fortunate to be able to complete our run, and was in meetings about productions I have coming down the pipeline which have obviously been postponed. We're still trying to figure out next steps for three shows of mine in the wake of the shutdown.
(SB): How was the shutdown communicated with the cast and production team?
(Ashley): By the time we received an email about the closure, most of us had already seen it on the news.
(SB): Are plans in place to present that production at a future date, or is the cancellation permanent?
(Ashley): It depends. Some are being shut down permanently, some are figuring out how to reschedule, and some are in limbo. A lot will depend on when the shutdown actually ends, which is basically out of our hands.
(SB): What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown?
(Ashley): I have three specific shows that have been directly affected, but since none of them have been officially announced yet, I can't really say anything specific about them. I can say one is meant to go up this fall.
(SB): How are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?(Ashley): I'm fortunate that I'm a writer, so I'm working to get as much writing done as I can. I'm in talks to be a part of some virtual readings of projects, and my collaborators and I are meeting online to work and make future plans. I run a podcast for the Onstage Network and I've been doing episodes of that.
I am also taking some dance classes online whenever I can, and really enjoy Katherine Morgan's wonderful classes on YouTube. I also love Claudia Dean, anything from the Royal Ballet, and Westside Academy of Dance where I grew up studying - special shout out to Celeste Amos, Chason Greenwood and Johnny Chong's classes - and I'm very excited to stream Ashley Shaw's class from Matthew Bourne's New Adventures Company.(SB): What thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the L.A. Theatre community while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon?
(Ashley): I think this is a great opportunity to showcase work online and bring it to the attention of people outside our normal communities. I think this could be a great time for L.A. theatre to be seen and appreciated by audiences all over the country, and hopefully when we're all back, the online experience can be a doorway to better supporting live theatre in the Los Angeles area.
If anyone's interested in virtual Arts classes in acting/writing/directing/Shakespeare/business of theatre, I'd love to offer my services. You can reach me in the following ways:
My website: www.ashleygriffinofficial.com
My podcast on Onstage Network: https://www.onstageblog.com/stage-directions
1. Headshot - Photo by Matthew Murphy
2. First headshot at the age of 7 while working professionally in L.A.
3. Playing the lead role of Mary-Mary at The Santa Monica Playhouse in L.A., a role Ashley played for over a year, between the ages of 12-13, going on tour with the show, and went with the production to the UK playing London, Warwick and Stratford-Upon-Avon
4. Playing the lead role of Arcadia in TRIAL off-Broadway directed by Lori Petty, for which Ashley received the WellLife Network award and a county commendation for the role Photo by Micah Joel
5. Playing the lead role of Astrid in development with SNOW off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons. Photo by Micah Joel
6. Playing Hamlet in HAMLET off-Broadway (I became the first person in history to be nominated for a major award for both playing and directing HAMLET) Photo by Micah Joel
7. Playing Denise off-Broadway in the revival of DUBARRY WAS A LADY directed by Evan Peters