Erica Ash Opens Up About Life, Struggles and Making a Difference on the Big Screen
As I had the privilege of getting to know Erica through our interview she unveiled something special beyond her rise to fame in the world of acting and comedy. Grounded in her faith, I discovered a spirit of perseverance, courage, strength and passion for what she does. It also became evident that through her passion she is using her gifts and platform to make a positive impact around her. This is apparent in her new and upcoming TV series "In Contempt," which premieres on BET, April 10, 2018.
As an artist myself, except my realm is in the world of fine arts, Erica's strength and positive influence resinated with me so I wanted to portray that spirit about her in my own work. I collaborated with Erica by doing a painted portrait of her on canvas that I felt denoted her strength, wonder and the essence of who she is. To create the painting, Erica and I shared ideas and pictures back and fourth to create a finished product. The painting is a part of my pop art realism collection titled "Deeper Than Fame" to be featured in this article and in my upcoming art shows. "Deeper Than Fame" unveils something about the subjects that transcends fame and money so I knew Ash would be a perfect fit. To purchase a print of the painting you can buy it at my shop from www.nicoletrouploudart.com.
As you delve into the interview below, Erica grants us a peak into her life, her career as a rising star and what the painting communicates to her.
Troup- I love your philosophy on life; don't let fear stop you, but step out in faith by saying yes to opportunities that come your way. How has that impacted your life?
Ash- It's changed everything. Saying yes increases your boundaries and gets you out of your comfort zone. At times I have been afraid to step out, but once I started taking risks it began to open up a whole new world to me. It is very easy for people to run back to the safe haven of their comfort zone, but then they miss out on opportunities in life.
You grew up in a home of faith, where your parents were pastors. How has your faith influenced your life?
My faith has grown. It came to me in its own way through my experiences. There would be little things I asked for that I felt God came through for. You think He is showing you something, but then shows you something different and you get that moment where you are like, wow!
I know your fans are excited for your new and upcoming drama series "In Contempt" that you'll be starring in on the BET channel. What is the show about and what is you character like?
The debut date is April 10th, 2018 at 10/9 central time. I'm really excited! Everyone put in a lot of work and were great to work with. This show is from the defendant's point of view as opposed to many shows presenting the prosecutor's perspective. The show is riveting. It is a heightened reality of some of the real injustices that can occur in a courtroom. These injustices can sometimes be a result of the biases deriving from the judge, prosecutors and jury before the defendant is even sentenced. This infuriates Gwen Sullivan, the brilliant and passionate defendant lawyer that I portray in the show. Gwen use that fire and passion to fight for her defendants' rights.
This show will no doubt open peoples eyes to the real issues that can occur in the legal system? How do you want the "In Contempt" series to make a difference and what do you want viewers to learn about from watching this?
I learned so much and have become more aware of what goes on in the courtroom. I want viewer's eyes to become opened to the injustices that take place in the legal system. For example, there is a disproportionate amount of people of color who sit in the hot seat. The courtroom is so back logged that they may not be able to schedule a defendant's court date for up to a year or longer. The choices that are offered to them at this point are that they can either plead guilty or wait for trial which could take up to a year or more. Many defendants cannot afford a large bail so they have no choice but to stay in jail until their trial date. Even if they know they are innocent. In the mean time their outside life unravels because they can lose their jobs, families and friends while they wait in jail for trial. When their trial comes and if the court proves that they are innocent, they are released back into society often times with no job, and their family or friends sometimes abandon them. This TV series brings attention to injustices that I'm passionate about which is revealed in my character Gwen. I hope that this opens peoples eyes for change in the legal system.
You have a new Lions Gate film "Uncle Drew" coming out on June 29, 2018. What is it about and how has your experience been filming the movie?
It was pretty amazing and fun on the set! I got to experience behind the scenes of the one of the greatest basketball scenes and am blown away by who they were. I also had a front row seat to the locker room talk that occurs on a basketball team! In the movie I play Maya, the niece of Uncle Drew's teammate Boots (Robinson). The film revolves around a series of Pepsi commercials starring NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving, and Get Out's LilRel Howery. After Dax (LilRel Howery) drains his life savings to enter a team in the Rucker Classic street ball tournament in Harlem, he is dealt a series of unfortunate setbacks, including losing his team to his longtime rival (Nick Kroll). Desperate to win the tournament, Dax stumbles upon the legend Uncle Drew (NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving) and convinces him to return to the court one more time. The two men embark on a road trip to gather Drew's old basketball squad (Shaquille O'Neal, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller, Nate Robinson, and Lisa Leslie) and prove that they still have what it takes to win.
As you know I am a fine artist and we recently collaborated on a canvas painting I created of you to include in my art shows in New York and to feature in this article. The painting has a contemporary, pop art feel. What are your thoughts about the portrait and what do you think it captures about yourself?
I love it! I feel honored and flattered as well. It's interesting to see how a different artists interpret my characteristics in unique ways. When I look at the portrait I see wonder, bravery and a little bit of naiveté. Also the wonder in my eyes comes through.
Where can fans purchase this print?
On Nicole Troup's website shop at www.nicoletrouploudart.com
Lastly, you have been blessed in your career and an abundance of doors have been opened for you. But sometimes it is not always positive so what are some of the struggles or uphill battles you have encountered along the way?
Balance is always a struggle. I'm ambitious and tough on myself and work until my body can't take it.The entertainment business is hard and a lot of energy goes into it. Actors and actresses can work 12-22 hour days. I sometimes forget to be good to myself and realize I need to stop and take care of myself.
A lesser struggle I have, but have gotten better at is trying to have an emotional and spiritual balance in the business. Actors and actresses can hear the answer "no" a lot so you can easily become discouraged and lose faith at times. So when we get a "yes" we can become ecstatic. This emotional up and down pattern can be difficult to navigate so I try to maintain an emotional and spiritual balance through the ups and the downs no matter what happens.
You can also follow Nicole Troup (Nicole Troup Masterpiece Collections) on Instagram and Facebook to see what inspiring subjects she collaborates with next for her upcoming interviews, art collections and art shows