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Ashley Blaine Featherson on Why My Black is Beautiful and Yours is Too
by Dontaira Terrell
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February 17, 2020

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12 Minute Read

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Ashley Blaine Featherson on Why My Black is Beautiful and Yours is Too

Courtesy of Ashley Blaine Featherson

There are multiple layers to success; for some, acquiring materialistic value is equivalent to being successful, and for others, it’s the concept of existing in the limelight. But for Ashley Blaine Featherson, it’s much more in-depth. The idea of success for the D.C. native consists of pushing the needle forward, staying true to her authentic nature, and paving a path for future generations while making our ancestors proud. “Standing on the shoulders of giants,” the 32-year-old’s mission is to celebrate the identity, uniqueness, and beauty of our culture both personally and professionally. 

As a Howard University graduate (HU, YOU KNOW), HBCU greatness runs deep. A commonality that we both share but for me as a Florida A&M University (FAMU) Rattler (Yep, shameless plug!). Rich in history and traditional value, she continues to exude immense pride instilled in her from her upbringing and time at “The Mecca.” Although continuing to pave the way for future generations in Black Hollywood is complicated, Ashley’s wins throughout her career trajectory have proven it’s tangible. 

Related: How I Found the Courage Within to Be My Own Best Friend

In particular, teaming up with the Black-owned beauty brand The Lip Bar to focus on representation and inclusion in mainstream media. With campaign taglines, such as “We know the difference between diversity and tokenism.” And “We’re more than a trend,” was bold yet necessary to continue igniting meaningful dialogue on what it truly means to stand tall and confident in your blackness. 

Not to mention, the Netflix series “Dear White People” in which she stars as the character Joelle Brooks was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Comedy Series. “It makes me extremely proud to know that I get to portray a character on television that allows so many other women to feel represented. It’s because she’s a real young woman just trying to navigate life,” the actress said. A truth we are all dealing with daily, wouldn’t you agree? 

I do not allow anyone to dim my light or try and encourage me to be anything less than the greatness of who I am.

“Joelle has taught me to embrace the things that are a distinctive element of my being. Part of her plight on the show is that she generously puts other people before herself and is often left wondering who she can count on? What this means for Joelle is that she’s giving and a wonderful friend. It’s taught me to look at the qualities that I might feel are a burden or lack reciprocity in my life. But it doesn’t matter. It just means I’m a good person.”

Growing and embracing her evolution as both an individual and artist isn’t easy, but Ashley Blaine Featherson is up for the challenge. BlackLove.com sat down with her, and she schooled us on the beauty of showing up for your community and much more.  

Credit: Paul Smith

BlackLove.com: How do you protect your “Black Girl Magic” in Hollywood? 

Ashley Blaine Featherson: I protect my “Black Girl Magic” by demanding to be seen. I do not allow anyone to dim my light or try and encourage me to be anything less than the greatness of who I am -which is being a beautiful, strong, intelligent, Black woman. I demand when you see me that you see ALL of me. When you see me, it’s clear that I’m a Black woman obviously, and that’s something I’m really proud of because I love being who I am. Every day, I’m so grateful to our ancestors for allowing me to live the life that I live. I’m thankful for their strength, tenacity, endurance, and everything they went through for me to live out my dreams and live the life that I’ve been fortunate to live. 

Because of knowing who I come from, I walk with an immense amount of pride with my head held high. Many of our ancestors did not have this option. I want to leave a legacy that is directly associated with generations from my past and for my future.

Related: Live a ‘Limitless’ Life With Self Love Specialist Chenoa Maxwell

BL.com: Being in the business of constant rejection in what ways do you nourish yourself and feed your soul to continue to charge forward? 

ABF: Despite being in a field that’s full of rejection, I have people around me that are full of positivity and acceptance. What I mean by this is that I have amazing friends and family. I’m surrounded by people who love me. I like to call these people my destiny advocates because they believe in me and push for my destiny and my purpose just as much as I do. That is what keeps me going. 

I also practice self-care. When I was in my twenties, I didn’t understand the importance of it. But in the past year [or so], I’ve learned the significance of taking care of me first. So, I can be someone wonderful for the people in my life and able to be the best Ashley every day when I enter the world.  

BL.com: What do you look for in characters when you are taking on new roles?     

ABF: I look for authenticity, and I look for our culture. Our culture is across the world because it’s part of the human experience. It is beautiful and deserves to be displayed on the big screen. I have no interest in playing characters in which our culture is being pained or dimmed. We are the culture that everyone else is trying to emulate. We Are IT! 

Also, if I know that I never stop growing as a person, then I know I never stop growing as an artist, either. So I look for characters that challenge me as well. 

As a people, we have so much beauty and depth to us; it is unlike anything else.

Courtesy of Ashley Blaine Featherson

BL.com: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you reference the phrase, “Black Love?” 

ABF: I think of legacy and beauty. Beauty because, as a people, we have so much beauty and depth to us; it is unlike anything else. I also think in terms of a legacy because of the mere fact we are still here and thriving. Always moving and progressing, the culture is truly beautiful, and another reason we all should be genuinely proud. 

Whenever I see two beautiful black people together, I’m in awe. It’s imagery that, at one point in our history, we were told, wasn’t okay. Now, when I see families together in 2020, it brings me a lot of joy because families once were ripped apart. Every time I see a couple, it reminds me of how far we’ve come as a people and how much further we’re going. It brings me a lot of joy and honestly gives me hope. 

BL.com: Personal definition of what success is for you?                          

ABF: I’ve never thought about this question to be completely honest. Success is the daily inner maintenance to achieve happiness and peace. The older I get, the less success has anything to do with my career. When I was younger, I believed, being on a television show, making money doing what I love was going to make me successful. Although that is great and it is an achievement, if I’m not happy, then that’s not fulfillment. 

As I’ve gotten older, my personal definition has shifted. Having a sense of inner peace and happiness that is sustaining me is success because it is not easy. It’s hard work to accomplish this and undoubtedly be able to wake up each day filled with gratitude and abundance. 

But that is a beautiful life, and if I have those things first, then everything else will naturally come. It sounds so cliche, but it really does begin from within. You often hear about people who have it all but are miserable. I don’t want to go that route, so when I reflect on success, I want to make sure when I have all of those things and desires that I feel happy about them, and I feel at peace. If I don’t, then there’s no point because I’m not enjoying it anyway. 

Related: How Self-Love Led Brely Evans to Create a Life of Gratitude

Courtesy of Ashley Blaine Featherson

BL.com: What advice would you give to your younger self? 

ABF: The advice I would give to younger Ashley would be to chill out. There were so many days I spent stressed, worrying, or concerned about my future. The truth is everything has worked out and is going to continue to work out. The things I stressed about were already, written, and as long as I follow my heart, stay connected with my purpose, and connected in my relationship with God, then I’m good. I wish I would’ve relaxed and enjoyed everything more because it wasn’t that serious. It was all going to work out anyway, but you don’t know that when you’re going through it! 

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