Name: Ashley Rodriguez
Ashley Rodriguez discovered her passion for modeling through a friend’s fairy Godmother. “My friend at the time, her godmother was a designer, so she needed models for a fashion show that she was producing in Queens. So me, three of my other girls and another guy friend, we did a fashion show that night.”
The experience sparked something in her. As she strutted in the temporary spotlight she saw herself turning a night of youthful fun into a full fledged career. But while she enjoyed the experience she didn’t enjoy it not enough to throw away the security of the plan she had set up for post-graduation. Rodriguez did not come from an affluent background so in order to ensure that she could take care of herself as an adult she had to put her Plan B before her runway dreams.
“I didn’t do modeling full time in my junior year of high school because of school. I wanted to finish school at first and focus on my career and then later on see how modeling worked out for me,” she said.
After finishing high school she enrolled in college, eventually earning her bachelor’s degree in sociology. But she did not give up on getting a chance to reconnect with the feeling of being on the runway, she managed to make connections and obtain portfolio images in between her classes by studying more than her textbooks. She looked to models that inspired her for a path forward.
“I looked up how they started their careers and did a little bit of research on the agencies that they signed with to see if those agencies could represent me and stuff like that. And did a lot of researching other models from the 90s,” she said.
“I would go through my Instagram and look at my followers and see who I had that were better photographers, see who I had that were stylists or makeup artists and then I would message them on Instagram and ask that they would like to, collab with me or um, if they would like to work on a project that I’m doing,” she continued.
“And most of them responded and they were nice enough to help put my looks together for the shoe and stuff like that. So that’s how I approached my craft, how I perfected my craft, just reaching out to people and asking to do collabs and then eventually I got a lot of work out of that,” she continued.
She was clear that included “a lot of unpaid work,” and “a lot of tests.”
The final test for Rodriguez was getting an agent. Because she wasn’t connected to any executives she was forced to do the legwork of getting signed completely on her own.
“I wish the process was easy,” she said. “But first I applied to about 10 agencies in New York, then 10 agencies that were in LA, 10 in Miami. I kept on applying, applying until they would answer or until I received an email. So I did online submissions and I waited about six months because it took a while to receive emails back. After six months I didn’t receive anything except for one agency. New York MMG that I’m currently signed to.”
One agency was all it took. Shortly after being signed Rodriguez went from free photoshoots and Queens pop ups to major fashion shows with serious budgets.
“I got signed with my agency MMG New York and then everything just like came to me,” she said. She is hopeful that her team’s support will help her go further.
“I want to be recognized everywhere. Paris, London, like all over the world. I want to be submitted and the front cover of major, major magazines. I want to have my face out there in storefronts, on billboards.”
She believes signing there was, “the best choice I’ve made so far.”
“After the meeting I felt happy and excited. I was like, yes! Finally, my career is starting to flourish and all this work and like submitting to agencies and perfecting my craft is actually coming to life.”
One of the ways that she continues to perfect her craft as a signed model is committing time to self care.
“I like to take care of myself as number one. I always try to make sure that I’m healthy before I book a job,” she said. “I think it’s really important to keep in mind that self care should be number one on your list or life.” She pointed out that ensuring she remains healthy is helpful to her career in a number of ways.
“My skin is clear that I have enough rest the night before I eat healthy throughout the week. I hydrate myself because that’s all important. And if you don’t do those things and you can see that onset, like you’ll see like your eyes attire, you have bags underneath your eyes or like your energy on set. You don’t want to talk to other people. You just want to stay on the phone. I make sure that I stay positive throughout the day.”
She sees health as not only a means of not only maintaining her current career but a place she can potentially pivot to. She runs a health and wellness Instagram page called @getfitwithlash with her boyfriend who she says is “100% supportive of me.”
“We’ve been doing it for about two years now. We post indoor workouts, outdoor workouts, workouts you could do at home, with no equipment or just like a light band. You don’t really need to have a gym in order to work out and get your body moving.”
She believes it’s important for models to branch out and explore other passions.
“I think it’s really important to be diverse and explore your horizons because yes, modeling could be a full time job. You do get to travel, meet new people, but when you get older you don’t want to just be known as just a model. Let’s say for example, I’m 85 years old like, you want to be known for something more.”
Currently with coronavirus shutting down the industry some models are worried about what will happen next but Rodriguez is ready for whatever comes. “I’m present, I’m not overthinking things,” she said. “I know what’s for me, will be for me.”