Ashley πŸ“Έ by Jeremiah Willis

How did you get into modelling?

I actually fell into modelling by accident, it wasn't really something I purposefully set out to do. I come from a long line of photographers, and so the vast majority of my childhood was spent being stuck in front of the camera and being told to pose. I always considered it just one of those dorky things that my mom made me do, and never something that I actually wanted to pursue.

It wasn't until 2009, when I was asked to volunteer for a charity fashion show, that I actually started to do it properly. I thought I had volunteered to be behind the scenes, but little did I know I was actually signed up to walk the runway. I walked the runway for the first time and found myself hooked. Thankfully for me, the designer who I walked for and some of the photographers who were there that night started to take off, and they very sweetly brought me along for the ride. The rest is kind of history. :)

Which creative idols influenced you?

I grew up listening to a lot of Madonna, so she's definitely played a big part in who I became and how I expressed myself. I always loved how driven she was, how passionate she was, how expressive she was and how bold. She always had this way of turning her art into "something more". There was always real meaning behind everything she did and certain messages she was trying to convey. I loved that, and think it played a big role in how I developed my own career and who I was as a woman.

What do you enjoy most about being in front of a camera?

What I love about being in front of the camera is the freedom it gives you to take on other personalities and explore other sides of yourself. In person, I'm really humble, silly, and just a total goofball, but when the camera is on, I can turn on this confident, sexy, badass alter ego I have, or tap into my emotional side way more.

Your favourite three models are?

Gosh, that's tough. There are so many phenomenal models out there. Ithink some of my favourites though are those game changers like Nicole Trunfio, Winnie Harlow, and Jade Willoughby, who are constantly working to shatter the traditional definitions of beauty. They're stunning trailblazers who are total forces.

What is your absolute favourite passion?

It sounds super lame, but helping people live out their dreams is my absolute favorite thing in the world.

Tell us more about your work for We and Free the Children!

For sure! I actually started off with Me to We (or We as they're currently known) and Free the Children back in 2012, when I began my MA. I was looking for something to do over my summer break and stumbled upon an application to be a seasonal trips facilitator. I applied on a whim and honestly didn't think I had a shot in the world, but for whatever reason, they gave me a chance and before I knew it I found myself living in Shanghai, acting as a Leadership and Social Justice Workshop Facilitator for Me to We China.

That international seasonal position in China lasted for two amazing summers and led me to a full-time position here in Canada as a Motivational Speaker and Leadership Facilitator. Thanks to We and their incredible program I was able to spend an entire year on a nation wide speaking tour talking to kids about the realities of hunger and the importance of food security. It was really neat, we were able to go coast to coast across Canada and were lucky enough to speak to over 22,000 youth nationwide.

Which part of working as SKYN Magazine’s Editor-In-Chief inspires you most?

My favorite part about working as the Editor-in-Chief of SKYN is being able to talk to so many amazing people worldwide. Getting the opportunity to not only hear people's stories but share them with the world is so neat to me. I'm so inspired by the passion and drive that I see from so many on the daily, and am so humbled to be a part of something that might just help them launch their careers.

What does real love mean to you?

To me, real love means loving someone unconditionally. Appreciating them, respecting them, enjoying them, and caring for them completely. In my experience real love fills you up and makes you feel whole. It's a kinda of love that would climb mountains for, drive across town for, and drop everything for. It's the kind of love that makes you want to be a better person, put someone else first, and become all that you can be.

Which boy band stole your heart in the 90s?

Oh man, Backstreet Boys by far! As I grew up I totally fell for JT, but when I was actually younger in the 90s, Backstreet boys were the way to go.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Peanut Butter on a spoon with honey :)

Photographer: Jeremiah Willis @j_pierre

Model: Ashley Hassard @thehassard