During a recent photo shoot for a popular men's interest magazine, I sat down with International model, Ashley Mitchell for a Q&A. If you're not familiar with the modeling industry, you might know her from the cast of MTV's Real World Ex-plosion which aired in its entirety earlier this year. Ashley was welcomed to the popular reality series with mixed fanfare, and the following interview touches mainly on her appearance and experiences from the show. Be sure to check out the slide show from our photo shoot. Her interview begins below.
Tell us about your hometown, and what makes it unique?
Well, I am originally from Hurricane, West Virginia. It is a little town in the valley of the Mountain State! What makes it unique is nothing. It is like every small town across the nation. Cheerleaders and football players, homecoming queens, nothing better to do than gossip and find trouble. Although, I was on an all-star cheer team that won the national championship which was aired on ESPN! No one really leaves the town, or the entire state for that matter. I get a lot of emails saying how proud they are I even left!
You’ve been quite the world traveler lately. What are you up to now?
Right now, I am living and working in Paris, France. Living with my adorable French boyfriend, right next to the amazingly gorgeous Opéra national de Paris and awe inspiring Louvre museum. I have been doing shoots two or three times a week, for a few companies and one even for an Indonesian magazine!
What made you want to audition to be on MTV’s Real World Ex-plosion?
Honestly, I never thought about it! A model friend, Benjamin Kline, had seen a casting and informed me. Well, I missed it, but he insisted that I would totally make it! I then proceeded to send an email with the questionnaire interview I found online. Not a day later, they had emailed me wanting more! It all moved so fast I honestly had no time to think.
Viewers obviously have their favorite moments of you during the show. What was YOUR favorite, or most memorable, moment on the show?
Oh God, many of the moments were not memorable (she laughs). There was not much to do in the house. No music, no television or movies and no books. Drinking was our only escape and I was not use to all that drinking at all! The most memorable parts are the parts they don’t show on television. Jenny and myself hitting the club alone and having a dance party all night with all of my S.F. girls. The time Corey and I went to subway in the bear costumes that made a unforgettable appearance already. The rap battle Jenny and I had with ourselves with Arielle dying-laughing in the hot tub which is where we got our rap names, Two Nuts! I am Almond Milk and Jenny is Chestnut.
How has your life changed from pre-Real World Ex-plosion till now?
Not too much. A lot more followers, fans, haters, interviews, and traveling, but I was already use to photo shoots, club appearances, and haters! The difference is just size of everything now and also how people talk to you, or about you, like they know you. They tape 24/7 and air about 40 minutes a week. They can choose how they want you to look, although it’s not like we didn’t do the things (or mistakes) we did. The changes that have happened in my life have been from my own experience, life, and choices not a TV shows. Also being in a country that doesn’t air Real World is different from what the rest of the cast may or may not be going through.
What do you most regret looking back at Real World Explosion?
I try to regret nothing, but I do. I regret the amount of drinking that made me act like someone else. I also regret not punching Jamie in the face. I regret some of things I said or did, but I do not regret leaving. The animosity, the tension, the fakeness of that house was overwhelming and truly turning me into someone I was not. Also I missed my friends that were literally right outside the house since I was already a San Francisco local. It’s not like you are allowed to just come and go as you please, or have people over all the time, which I usually do in my real life.
You and Jenny were pretty chummy during the show. Do you still keep in touch?
Oh yes! We have a webcast together coming up, but we text and talk a lot too. She is a great and positive person. A great friend to have!
Have you been in touch with anyone else in the cast since filming? Have feelings changed?
Oh yes, we still do after-shows and reunions. Arielle, Brian (Jenny’s ex), Jenny and I hit the town in L.A. a few weeks ago and had a blast! Not so much [change in feelings]. I think that some of the cast is fake by what they say and like on social media, then say different on national television, but I am not here to judge or say how others are feeling. I am always pretty honest with everyone on the after-shows and on my social media.
I have monitored your social accounts during and since your presence on the show, and you have attracted a lot of negative backlash from how you were portrayed, mostly from high school children, but not completely without positive fan support. What is your philosophy on Haters?
When going into the house, I knew I would have haters. If you don’t have haters you’re doing something wrong! Honestly, I try and pay them no attention! I have many supporters, fans, and friends who are die hard. I give all my energy to positive parts of life, not the negatives. We only have so much time, and so much energy in this life, I refuse to spend my precious moments on people who are nothing -- and usually not doing much besides stalking my page!
Tell us a little bit about yourself that fans didn’t get to see on the show?
I think the show is the “Real World,” but in the real world I am friends-obsessed. I don’t surround myself with people I don’t like. I am not that fake girl who will be like “Oh, hey girl! I love that shirt,” then turn around and talk shit. So, when you are in a house with people you don’t like and nothing to do beside drink, it is a horrible environment. If you ask anyone who knows me or has met me, including you, Eric! I am bubbly, friendly, a goofball, laid back, and easy going. A bit of a tomboy, and a lot of a nerd are the personalities of me they did not portray. I love reading, eating, yoga, and friendship. I have so many close friends and family that are truly my everything! I am a little country girl who moved to San Francisco and fell in love with the city. I was not someone who did the same thing every night, although there are more than a few places I was a regular. I really tried to experience everything, meet everyone, and indulge myself in San Francisco. Work, friends, and the culture.
What would you like to say to fans of the show?
I will address the fans and supporters -- for the rest are a waste of that precious time I always speak of, THANK YOU GUYS! The support, comments, likes, fan calls, fan pages, and love means the world! It has been so nice getting to know you guys and read the positive things you say! I love y’all and if you are ever in Paris, holla at yo’ girl (she smiles)!
What other opportunities has MTV's Real World Ex-plosion opened up for you?
It has put me in connection with other opportunities, other shows, and different producers and executives.
Do you feel MTV was fair in the way you were portrayed on the Real World Ex-plosion?
I knew they wouldn’t be if I left early! They pretty much told me that, but it was a decision that had to be made. When I was even thinking of coming back to the house, like they asked, I had that feeling all over again. A heavy burden on my shoulders, so I decided if just thinking about was stressing me, FORGET IT! I knew they would portray me horridly, but I don’t regret leaving. Love is always a thing to follow, and I did when I left that house.
What are you most passionate about?
I am passionate about food! I love Michelin Star restaurants, so I am just a follower, but I haven’t been disappointed yet, and as you know, I LOVE RED MEAT. To go with that red meat, I love red wine and have learned a lot more about wines and whiskies while here in Europe. My go-to whiskey at the moment is Cardhu. I also love poetry and reading. I am a huge follower of The Secret. Most importantly, I am passionate about being happy, love, and new experiences.
Yes, you indeed love to eat (laughs). What, and where, is the best restaurant everyone should know about?
In San Francisco, you all must go to: Ame on 3rd Street, Great steak! And one Michelin Star. Umami Burger, the Truffle burger is heaven in your mouth! Ozumo has great sushi, great atmosphere, and wonderful chocolate fondu. Opaque to eat in the dark! Go with friends, but not on a first date; it’s awkward. Sweet Maple for Millionaires Bacon or the Blackstone Benedict. It is to die for, be reborn, then die for again!
What should all men know? This question is meant to be vague.
Where to begin? No, I joke... Men need to know how to be men. Gentlemen with a naughty side. Men need to show love, but not drown a girl in it. They need to know how to be spontaneous, romantic, and constantly seductive. They need to know how to get a girl, then keep her happy! They need to know how to cook meat, so grill! They need to know, sometimes, if she’s bad she just needs a good spanking (she smiles). Also, they need to know a girl only has one heart, so don’t play with it! Play with her boobs, she has two!
What should all women know?
All women should know there’s only one person you can honestly rely on and trust, and that is yourself. Confidence is the sexiest thing in the world. Booze can always be free, so no need to save for Friday nights on the town. Boys are dumb; talk slow. All men love a flat belly, so do some v-ups. A broken heart SUCKS, but remember when one bus leaves another one always comes, so smile so you can get a better one! Haters are actually the Presidents and Vice Presidents of your fan club. Always know you can do better, you deserve better, you are better!
What makes Ashley feel good?
It makes me feel good to hear the nice comments from all of my fans. It makes me feel good to laugh ridiculously loud in public or drinking too much wine and kissing. It makes me feel good to hear “I love you” from all of my friends and family. Complimenting a stranger makes me feel good, and making someone smile makes me feel great. Seeing two old people in love gives me faith. When the right person tells me I look beautiful. Cooking a good dinner for someone I love makes me proud. Meeting new friends or talking on the phone for an hour to the old ones. Jumping up on someone and wrapping my legs around them!
If you could change one thing in the world, right now, what would it be and why?
What Is this? Miss America (she laughs)? I would change my visa status, it’s going to be a bitch.
Final Question... Have we seen and heard the last of Ashley Mitchell?
HELL NO! If anyone knows me, they know you can’t get rid of me that easy! I’ll be back in the bay [San Francisco] before you know it! I will still be working, working out, and learning every day. I am just getting started! I am young, wild, confident, ambitious, and educated. Nothing can keep me down – NOTHING!