North Bergen native Ashli Haynes knew her calling as early as the age of 3. A former student at Hoboken’s private Hudson School, she became interested in acting while watching an episode of “The Cosby Show” on TV with her mother.
She was particularly inspired by young Raven-Symoné’s character, Olivia Kendall.
“I turned to my mother and said, “This is what I want to do with my life,” said Haynes, “and she has been my number one supporter ever since.”
Her mother, taking on the roll of agent, soon enrolled her daughter in different acting classes and found her a manager. Her first acting gig came when she was offered a small part in a Flava Flav music video.
“They didn’t pay us with money; they paid us with M&M’s,” said Haynes.
Soon after, at age 10, Haynes secured a role in “The Object of My Affection,” a romantic comedy starring Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd.
At 13, she became a member of the CityKids Repertory Company, a performance group comprised of teenagers from the New York metropolitan area.
Since then, Haynes has trained with various professionals, including Tasha Smith, an actress with experience in several Tyler Perry movies. At age 18, Haynes earned an Associate of Arts Degree from Bard High School Early College of New York City and began studying Drama at Fordham University as well as acting for film and television at Stonestreet Studios.
Two years later, she moved to Los Angeles to further her career.
“They didn’t pay us with money; they paid us with M&M’s.” – Ashli Haynes
Haynes’ first big break came at age 21 when she starred on the reality television show, “A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila,” where a team of girls and a team of men compete for the affections of Tila Tequila.
“It was a crazy experience,” said Haynes, who stated that she was voted off due to her “innocence.”
“I had a great time on her show,” said Haynes, “and I made some really good friends that I’m still in touch with today.”
Since then, Haynes has starred in “Greek,” “Touched,” and the upcoming film, “Teacher of the Year,” opposite Larry Joe Campbell of “According to Jim” fame. According to Haynes, the film is an independent mockumentary-style feature about a teacher who falls into a sexual harassment scandal. In the film, Haynes plays a provocative teenage girl.
Haynes has since written her first movie, “Love, Art, & Celibacy,” a gritty romantic comedy about an obsessive struggling artist.
Into her own hands
In “Love, Art, & Celibacy,” Haynes plays Lark, a young woman who is secretly being admired by Dennis, a socially awkward artist. Dennis soon receives help from Lamar, his charismatic best friend, who coaches him about the quickest way to receive Lark’s attention. The story takes a turn, however, when Lark begins falling for a mutual acquaintance.
Haynes has acquired award-winning director, producer, and writer James Tucker to direct the film.
“We have a few potential producers interested,” added Haynes, saying that she has recently organized a grassroots campaign to fund the project. Haynes indicated that roughly $76,800 is needed to secure the rest of the required budget.
To donate or for more information, visit http://www.indiegogo.com/Love-Art-Celibacy
Stephen LaMarca may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org