Ashlei Foushee is determined. You have to be in this line of work. “Pursuing acting as a career is not for the faint of heart,” she admits. “There are so many ‘no’s’ before a ‘yes.’ This career path has humbled me more times than I can count, but I couldn’t imagine doing anything else!” As a trained dancer, she learned to ground her art in multiple ways. “I think at the end of the day, performance is performance. Both dance and acting are ways to tell a story. Dance uses the body and acting uses a variety of things, including dance. Coming from a dance background has only helped me be more well-rounded as an actor.” Every role appeals to her. Each opportunity makes her face light up. “I love it all. I just want to play the great roles and be a part of the great projects!”
Ashlei stars in On Fire opposite Peter Facinelli and Asher Angel. The project brings the horrors of nature’s fury – spurred by the recklessness of man – to the screen. “It’s an inspiring film about a family trapped in a forest fire and the first responders that help them make it out. I think it’s extremely powerful because it’s based on the real-life forest fires in Paradise, California. With the recent fires in Maui, our film is more relevant than ever.” Tragically, we’ve seen dozens of examples of the consequences of climate inaction in recent months. “Natural disasters affect so many people and wreak havoc on communities. I think telling stories that shed light on the toll these types of disasters take will only help to make people think about what we can do to look after our environment and help minimize future damage.” Ashlei learned the depth of bravery and the capacity for emotional trauma that first responders must possess. “I play a 911 operator, so I did a lot of research on emergency call operators and not only how they deal with handling phone calls, but how they cope with the aftermath of being involved in multiple crises a day. After preparing for and playing this role, I have the utmost gratitude and respect for first responders.”
When portraying a real-life catastrophe, sensitivity and tact are key. “I did my best to stay true to the emotions and circumstances of the situation,” Ashlei says. “One of the first questions I ask myself when preparing for a role is, ‘What is an authentic reaction to the event?’ I hope I do it justice.” We need to show more gratitude towards the people who put their physical well-being and mental health on the line daily to protect us. “Acknowledgement is such a powerful tool. First responders literally dedicate their lives to saving lives. It’s the most admirable thing. My wish with this film is that all the first responders out there feel a little more seen.” When it comes to preserving the safety of the collective, everyone has to pitch in. It starts with awareness. “Again, I think acknowledgement is a very important thing. I hope the more light that’s shed on natural disasters and how much climate change plays a part in them, the more we will all be moved to make adjustments in our daily lives to help take care of our planet and environment.” Mother Nature needs her children to start loving her back. On Fire is set to premiere on September 29th.