Ashley Wren Collins
Happy New Year! Wow – it’s 2009. Finally.
It’s been such a long time since I’ve blogged! After my whirlwind one-interview-a day project, which culminated with Barack Obama’s victory on November 4th 2008, I was just so overwhelmed I had to shut down The Pop Cycle from pure exhaustion.
The winter snow falling on our city seemed appropriate. The chilly air brought a palpable fear with it. In November I started a Russian class with a terrible Russian teacher who made me think learning on tape might be easier than pulling Russian lessons out of him. Really, since I studied French for some five or so years, I know a thing or two about how to approach language study and no homework is not a good thing!
Anyway, just as a dark November pulled up to the curb and the job market got even worse, a small miracle happened (to me). I was offered a role as an actor in a fellow playwright’s play . Did I mention that I didn’t have to audition, and the role was one of those juicy roles that only comes around every so often for an actor?
See, I like acting, but I hate auditioning and since I am mostly a playwright why would I ever audition anyway? I wouldn’t. But then, somehow, someone, quite randomly sees my acting ability, literally from afar and voila, I get cast in a play. It wasn’t exactly like that – but my version is close enough.
Being on stage is such a thrill. It’s creative, but in a completely different way than the work I do as a writer. In the end of course, writing is the better of the two because a writer walks away from their hard work with a play in hand, the actor applause.
There is a thrill to acting that is ephemeral; like a bottle of pop constantly exploding. As a performer I’m a part of the process – and who doesn’t love being told that “you’re wonderful.” It’s addicting and I could get used to it, but alas, I always do this one-hit acting thing and then I’m back to the hard, hard work of being a playwright.
Talk about no glory! Playwrights sit hunched over their desks sipping coffee or worse – drinking Vodka. They are primarily loners and sulk about not getting produced. Or, when they are getting produced they think the following: “I should have written that better but oh well,” or “the actors and director are ruining it.” And when people are loving your work, it’s the actors that get all the praise! Since I have done both roles — been the actor and the writer, I can tell you with confidence that acting is hard work too; and playwrights are lucky when a very good actor likes their script. It’s a collaboration.
Speaking of good actors, this brings me to my first interview of 2009:
Who: Ashley Wren Collins
Where: In front of the Waverly Diner, West Village, NYC
Occupation: Actress and celebrity assistant.
“I love this diner!” quips Ashley as she arrives from the rain.
“Why?” I ask, looking around puzzled.
Really people, The Waverly Diner is just a diner with regular diner food. Outside of their fresh squeezed OJ, I can’t say I’ve ever had anything amazing to eat there, but I swear so many people LOVE it and so many of my friends pick this damn diner as our meeting place. It’s a Greenwich Village staple, so I need to cover it.
Ashley says she loves it for the “memories.”
“Ah, okay,” I say.
“My dad and I came here 10 years ago when I was getting my first passport. I remember the experience not just because it was the day I got my first passport, but also because Santa sat alone at a table next to us.”
“Really?” I say.
“No kidding. Just me, my dad and Santa eating breakfast in the restaurant. He was pretty relaxed, especially since it was Christmas Eve. Anyway, here I am about to renew my passport for the first time, so it had been 10 years!”
Ashley is lucky, she’s always known that she wanted to be an actress and she’s studied her craft at the Moscow Art Theatre in Moscow. I met Ashley when my friend and director Fritz Brekeller cast her in my romantic comedy My Life As You in the summer of 2006.
Ashley is a great comedic actress who really should be a character on Saturday Night Live. She’s stunningly tall and blonde. Kind of like a goddess who burps when she’s nervous. In any event, today, two years after My Life As You, we are meeting at 8:30 AM at the Waverly Diner.
I wanted to interview Ashley because she’s been busy. Not only does she work as a celebrity assistant, but she and her friends have created a goofy travel web series called Suzy and Duddy. The conceit of Suzy and Duddy reminds me a bit of Flight of the Concords on HBO except instead of musicians from New Zealand, the characters are two super dorky Minnesotans who have created a super dorked out travel show. In episode 2 they find a British sounding producer who is now part of the chaos as they take on NYC, which they do with pizazz in episode 3.
News for me: I am writing about Greenwich Village for the Examiner.com, so if you want to keep up on events and such in the village, become a subscriber to my blog.