Name: Ashley Smith

Age: 35

Instagram: @ms_versatile_

Photographer: Kevin L. Spencer

IG: @klsphotography205

Website: www.kls-photography.com

Makeup Artist: Denise Wright

1. What inspired you to get into this industry? 

To be honest, I model for fun. I am not the "typical" model build so I knew going into this, that more than likely I would receive a lot of "no's" than yeses and frankly I'm ok with that. My motto is if modeling leads to something, then great. If it doesn't then it's ok as well. I started off participating in local fashion shows and people used to always come up to me telling me that I was very photogenic and that I should take pictures and compile a comp card. So one day with the help of one of my girlfriend's, I bought some clothes and hired a makeup artist and a hair stylist and did a photo shoot. I was, and still am, a big fan of America's Next Top Model especially when Tyra Banks was the host. So I tried my best to remember pointers that she as well as Jay and Miss J gave the models. I was SO nervous (lol, I was trying to find my inner Sasha Fierce, AKA Beyoncé), but my pictures came out pretty good for an amateur (the photographer helped me big time too). And the rest is history! Oh and I do have a complete comp card now!

2. How long have you been modeling?

I have been modeling for about 10 years now. Luckily, modeling has lead me to some commercial and promotional work, which has been an awesome experience.

3. Who is your favorite model? 

I have always looked up to Tyra Banks. Growing up I was bullied about my forehead. I used to cover it up everyday like how Aaliyah and Left Eye did with their hair. One day like many days, I came home crying to my mother. She sat me down and showed me this most beautiful model who also had a big forehead like me. Her name was Tyra Banks. My mom told me that day that Tyra made millions from her "look" and every since then, I told myself it is ok how God made me and I then began to embrace my beauty. Don't get me wrong, I have had self esteem issues since a little girl and sometimes they try to come back in my mind. But I have learned that I cannot allow those negative statements to dictate how I feel about myself. I had to become my own cheerleader and I am still cheering to myself to this day.

4. Were you always comfortable in your own skin and in front of the camera?

Definitely not, it has been a journey and I am happy and ok about that. I embrace my journey! To be honest, I usually get nervous before a shoot, but usually a glass of wine and some music by my favorite artist (Beyoncé, can you tell?) helps a lot! It calms my nerves. Once I get "into it" during the shoot, I'm good.

5. Did you have any mentors who really helped mold and guide you?

My mom has been my greatest mentor. She pushes me regardless of how I am feeling. She always has my back. My Dad and siblings too. They all just want me to be happy and succeed at whatever I do. They are very proud of me. Another great mentor has been my manager, Patricia Pickett. She has always believed in me since day 1. She has become more than my manager...I consider her my friend too. This great relationship that we have, probably wouldn't have happened, if not for modeling.

6. Do you have any tips for aspiring models in the industry?

Just keep pushing yourself. Keep striving no matter what. Like I said, I've received a lot of "no's" and that's ok. But that hasn't stopped me from modeling and I won't let it! A girl just wants to have fun and that's what I'm going to continue to do!

7. Do you have a WTF moment at a shoot?

Yes I do all the time. I just kind of laugh it off and keep going.

8. What are some of the biggest revelations you've discovered through modelling?

My inner strength to keep going no matter what has happened before and how much older I'm getting. They do have older models, so it's never too late! *wink*

9. Tell us something random about yourself. 

I love and miss cartoons from the 90's like Talespin, Darkwing Duck, DuckTales, Pinky & the Brain, & Animaniacs, just to name a few!

10. What are you most proud of? 

I am most proud of how far I have come. Because of the bullying I received as a child, I used to be an introvert and was very shy and didn't think I was pretty enough. But all that began to change when I saw that picture of Tyra Banks. I am very outgoing now and I am a people person and I truly love modeling!

11. When it's all said and done, what do you want to be remembered as? 

A girl from a small town who had BIG dreams and was able to accomplish each one!