A southern belle growing up between Nashville and Savannah, and a background in technical theatre doing hair and makeup, Ashley Birnbaum realized her sophomore year of high school that she was meant for the stage.
Ashley’s competitive nature and willingness to stand out in the crowd is evident in the characters she admires. For example, Carlotta from Phantom of the Opera “is my spirit animal,” she says. Carlotta’s character envies anyone who tries to grab the spotlight; she is an operatic queen who manipulates others' talent.
“I feel like everyone has that feeling inside them and in theatre, you have to exude confidence to make it. Carlotta motivated me to push forward,” she says.
Radiant and well-spoken, Ashley is known for her eyebrows. “They make me look evil,” she says. Because of her appearance she often is given Evil Queen roles, but she doesn’t mind being typecast.
“Evil characters have the best costumes. Maleficent is the Evil Queen who gets to wear horns, a cape, gowns, a staff and it’s all very elaborate,” she points out. In comparison, the princesses usually wear rags until the end.
She also prefers Evil Queens because of their dramatic, larger-than-life personalities. “It’s a really fun role to play. I just wish Evil won sometimes!”
A Theatre Girl at heart, Ashley’s dream is to make it on Broadway. Her mentor is Sara Ramirez, a stand out performer amongst a sea of men in her favorite Broadway show, Spamalot.
In addition, Ramirez is a LGBTQ activist and Ashley wants to follow in her footsteps to be a voice for LGBTQ youth who are homeless.
“There are 15 and 16-year-olds living on the street because their families have kicked them out for being gay. I want to help their voices be heard.”
In the current economy, it’s hard to have a lucrative career solely as a theatre actor. Ashley solved this dilemma by branching out into film and television. SCAD makes it easy to diversify by offering classes like ATV where students need to audition to enroll. During winter quarter, students in the class travel to participate in the Atlanta TV Festival with the TV pilot that they produce. Casting directors attend the festival from Atlanta, New York and L.A. They view the shows and sometimes offer students the opportunity to perform in big name productions!
This summer, Ashley hit the ground running. Upon returning to Nashville she immediately started rehearsals as ‘Wardrobe,’ an operatic diva in Beauty and The Beast with The Renaissance Players.
“I just sent in my voice and video audition and was cast! It was a big deal because they didn’t know I was affiliated with SCAD and I am new to community theatre where everyone knows each other.”
This is Ashley’s first leading role in a major theatre production. See more about her current production here: https://www.facebook.com/therenplayers/
Learn more about how to help LGBTQ youth homelessness at: https://truecolorsfund.org. Additionally, information about the Performing Arts Department at Savannah College of Art and Design can be found at: https://www.scad.edu/academics/programs/performing-arts.