What happens when beauty meets brains and creativity? Ashly "A.J." Rouse, that’s what. Having previously dipped her toe in the modeling pool, Rouse is no stranger to the camera. She’s spent recent years supporting the underground music scene, promoting Greenville’s local rock heroes Kelen Heller, developing her inner artist, and re-focusing on healthy living. Now, in the advent of the new year, Rouse is ready to step back into the limelight herself and expand her portfolio and her reach. Between shoots, scheduling and promoting, we got a chance to chat with this busy beauty about how far she’s come, where she wants to go, and what’s in the cards for 2014.
You’ve been a part of the underground scene for awhile now anyway via your previous work with Kelen Heller; what made you want to branch out full steam into modeling?
AR: I actually carry a hint of a modeling past, nothing extravagant but some experience and education. I was 13 when my parents decided to put me through a modeling school called Barbizon, in Charlotte NC. Through finishing the school I was eligible to attend a week in Manhattan, New York for a convention with ICE Model Talent agency.
From there I didn't do much again until around 18 when I signed up for a Miss Hawaiian Tropic Bikini preliminary contest. I actually ended up coming in first place and qualifying to the regional competition, but I felt inside I wasn't ready yet. Though insecure, that is when I met photographer Stephen Pacello of SMP Photography. I spent a good deal of time shooting with Stephen to gain experience and confidence in front of the camera, learning how to pose and project different looks and different styles. It was the education I was missing and needed as a model to become confident and develop a well rounded understanding of print modeling.
I then after spent some time trying different things becoming involved in the music scene, going after my artistic talents along with figuring out my own desires and ambitions. And here I am now again finding myself modeling, though this time I decided it is time to get serious and get out there. So I decided to take that leap I'd held back from all that time.
Do you have a certain type of shoot you prefer to do or are looking to do?
AR: I am looking forward to shooting more edgy and dramatic work in the future. It's definitely been something I've wanted to do, so I look forward to a new challenge.But I absolutely love shooting naturally and not taking away from the purity. Though some editing is always required, I'm a sucker for keeping the photos as close to being there in the moment as possible. Capturing a realistic essence vs. fantasy is definitely my favorite.
How do you think local model play into the scene as a whole in the Upstate/Southeast?
AR: I think it creates a great vibe for marketing for the local businesses in the areas. There are so many aspiring models out there that are trying to get to the top but the first place you start is home and from there you branch out. There's a lot of opportunity in the southeast for models as well as the upstate. So I definitely think we all play a great role in helping build up our communities.
Now, you’re also quite the artist, will we be seeing anymore paintings from you in the future?
AR: Yes absolutely, I'm currently in the process of finishing a piece called "meditation". It'll be released I'm hoping by the end of January. I'll be starting a new project shortly after as well.
Do you have a favorite artistic medium (music, art, modeling, etc.)?
AR: I love them all, one doesn't overpower the other. They all seem to intertwine together in a strange way.
Where do you want to go with your creative endeavors?
AR: As far as they'll allow me. I believe with these things you can only work hard at them, choose your decisions wisely and they'll take you where your supposed to be.
You recently did a shoot for Wicked Hammer Energy Drink, can you tell us a little more about what’s in store for that?
AR: I'll be featured on the website in March as a “Wicked Hammer Hottie”, as well as in their 2014 calendar under the name A.J. Rouse. Best I can say is be expecting a sledgehammer and strong bold attitude, with a touch of sexiness in some of the photos.
What are your plans for 2014?
AR: My main plans are to get certified in nutrition, keep hitting the gym hard with training, get my modeling rolling and paint as much as I can. Oh, and possibly stepping into the acting light somewhere later in the year.
She’s only just getting started and we’ve yet to see the best of what she has to offer. You can keep up with the lovely A.J. via her Facebook page and keep your eyes peeled for her Wicked Hammer Energy Drink promo on their page! She’s planning on taking on the industry, one shutter click at a time!