Ashley Squires, a highly creative development consultant, producer, and the CEO of Squires Creative spoke with the Katch U intern group about her experience in the entertainment industry. With an array of experience from stage management, advising production companies and creatives on story pitches, script development, and casting, along with experience working for the Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, it’s safe to say Ashley had a lot of wisdom to share.
When asked what it is she does, Ashley simply said, “anything creative that involves story,” and as we soon found out, she really does mean anything. Originally planning to be a stage manager on Broadway, Ashley was on the path to becoming a casting director, but she chose something else. Ashley was working in a job that friends described as “so cool” but she just didn’t feel it. She was still searching for what her dream was, which made her next move both exciting and terrifying.
Moving from what seemed like a stable, “fun” job was not an easy choice for Ashley, but she jumped in headfirst. She felt she was always “chasing the next thing” and wanted the chance to slow down a bit. However, slowing down doesn’t mean not working. In fact, Ashley is one of the hardest working people in the industry. Ashley began working as a temp assistant for the CEO of Hallmark, which quickly became a full-time position, all while still stage managing for her friends in her spare time. This allowed her to have a steady income while continuing to pursue what she loves doing.
Still utilizing all the skills she learned in her previous jobs, along with building contacts and a network, Ashley began to excel in her new position. Ashley admits that to the outside world there’s a stigma of going from a well-known position, like a casting director, to now being someone’s assistant, but that’s quite normal in the entertainment industry. “Careers are not linear,” Ashley explains, and her path toward her dream job wasn’t either.
It wasn’t dumb luck or being in the right place at the right time that got Ashley where she is now, it was hard work. Every day she went to work with the mentality of helping others, she stepped out of her comfort zone to learn more about other areas in the company, and she was always asking what she could do to help them. “How can I be of service?” was Ashley’s motto, even when she was the one technically in charge! Through learning as much as she could about the business and continuing to look at every job that was posted internally, Ashley found a production job that spoke to her. After applying she was contacted by an acquaintance who offered her a different job. This new offer was “scary,” but after making a pro/con list between the two, she found the scary job was the best option. Once again, she was off on a new journey in her career.
Ashley attributes a few things to getting her next position, but one of the biggest things was knowing who she was meeting. When she arrived to officially interview for the “scary” position, they decided the one she was applying for wasn’t right, that she was better served in a position above what she was applying for, and so she had to quickly change her mentality as she stepped into the meeting. “Do your research,” Ashley implores. You can always find some commonality between you and another person if you try hard enough. Connect with them and try finding someone “less scary” to practice on if you can.
Ashley had managed to work her way up from an admin assistant, to a coordinator, senior coordinator, then manager (and running her own movies). She started networking and putting herself out there. One strategy Ashley has when networking is to carry yourself like you’re already in the position you want. Have confidence and be bold. It was through networking that Ashley found new talent she was already connected with. Through friends and previous jobs she’d worked on her network and community grew.
Ashley eventually made the shift to where she is now, having recently opened Squires Creative where she can work on her own projects. For years Ashley wanted to work on more diverse projects and had been joking about this idea for a queer mini-series, Vibes. When a writer friend suggested she do it, the two got together and created the series. Currently, Ashley is also working on a queer Christmas movie featuring two female leads, and it's currently being received with lots of positivity.
It took her experience with Hallmark and making the conscious decision to view all of Hallmark's current content to see there was an opportunity to grow with diversity. People are hungry for diversity and inclusion, and some are making strides to change, but with production that change could take a while to see, and there’s still more needed, in Ashley’s opinion.
So, what’s next for Ashley? “It’s up in the air,” she says. Squires Creative launched during the pandemic and she was quickly contacted by many places to work with. She’s thrilled to now be in a position to choose who she wants to work with, and what projects to put her passion behind, leaving the door open for many possibilities.
Her final advice to the interns of Katch U is that kindness and passion will get you so far! “An act of kindness, not from a place of wanting something back but just to do something nice, is so underrated,” Ashley says. She also suggests anyone interested in the film and television industry should be watching content and reading books that spark your creativity. Read other people’s stories and get passionate about what you watch, it will show when you talk about it. It will all translate into a better understanding of the industry and grow your love for film and television. “The things I’m most passionate about are what I now get paid to do!” Ashley explained, and isn’t that just what we all dream of?