Friday, August 12, 2011
SHE'S 'THE PERFECT ROOMMATE' - ASHLEY LEGGAT TALKS 'DIRTY DANCING,' GEMINI AWARDS, AND HER NEW FILM ROLE
A few years ago, you may have watched Ashley Leggat as brainy brunette Casey on Life with Derek or even as Megan Fox's blonde sidekick Marcia on Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen. But, just recently, Ashley played the legendary role of "Baby" in Dirty Dancing here at The Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto. Add that to her spots on Aaron Stone, Murdoch Mysteries, Vacation with Derek, and Made…The Movie; an impressive resume barely cut 12 years or half of her 25 years aged. It's no wonder Ashley wrapped up two Gemini nominations, which includes one for this year's: Best Performance in a Children's or Youth Program or Series for Vacation with Derek. Here's Ashley to reel us in with details about her latest movies - The Perfect Roommate and My Dog’s Christmas Miracle. P.S. Did you know she's married?
V.B. So, tell us about your new film The Perfect Roommate. Where can we see it? The plot looks pretty intense.
A.L. The Perfect Roommate is a suspense thriller in which a crazy woman pretends to be someone she is not to get to my father. It was the first intense drama I have filmed, and I loved getting to play in a darker film. It has aired on TMN in Canada and various other channels. I am sure it will be airing elsewhere; I'm just not sure when.
V.B. You've played the popular cheerleader type, the perfectionist, etc. Who would you say was the most eccentric or multi-faceted character you have portrayed or want to portray? Any characters very distinct or similar to your personality?
A.L. All of the characters I have played have had a bit of me in them. The popular cheerleader was not my personality, but we had the love for dance in common. Casey was probably most opposite of me, as I am definitely not a perfectionist or very organized. I'd say I was more like Derek in that sense. Casey and I share a strong determination and care for others. The most similar out of all the characters I have played would probably be Baby in Dirty Dancing. That role was very reminiscent of me when I was younger and more naive. I found it the most rewarding to play her, as it felt like I was reliving my youth every night.
V.B. You have danced and acted for an array of theatrical productions. Would you ever audition for a reality TV program, like So You Think You Can Dance Canada?
A.L. I do love to dance, but I would not audition for So You Think You Can Dance Canada. Although I absolutely love the show, I would look more to do something like Dancing With the Stars. If you had asked me when I was 17, I probably would have wanted to do So You Think..., but at this time in my life, and where my career has taken me, it would not be an option.
V.B. Speaking of dancing, you performed as the lead for the Broadway version of the classic film Dirty Dancing. How was it like mentally adapting and becoming a character so famously known? Have you ever watched Dirty Dancing? If so, what's your favourite part of the movie?
A.L. Taking on the role of Baby in Dirty Dancing was one of the scariest, most exciting adventures of my life. I was very nervous to play a role that people had come to love so dearly, because it's difficult to match the amazing talent of Jennifer Grey. Eleanor Bergstein worked with me and really gave me confidence in what I was doing, and that pushed me to fully let go and be consumed by the character. I did watch the movie and tried to match Jennifer's voice, so people really felt like they were watching her on stage. As for the movie, my favourite part would definitely be the end: the "Time of My Life" dance and the lift. That was my favourite part of every single show, too. I still get goosebumps thinking about it.
V.B. You have performed alongside celebrities like Hilary Duff (in Cadet Kelly) and Megan Fox/Lindsay Lohan (Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen). What's it like meeting and working with (these) stars in your own hometown?
A.L. Working with celebrities is always exciting, and there is a bit of apprehensiveness that goes along with it. At the end of the day, you are all there to make the same movie or show, and they quickly become just another person you work with. If you treat them like you treat everyone else, it makes them more comfortable and the shoot a lot more fun.
V.B. You've starred in local programs, such as Life With Derek, Aaron Stone, and Murdoch Mysteries. Please enlighten us with your advice on how young adults and youth especially can break into the entertainment industry here.
A.L. This is an important question, because I get people asking me all the time how to get into the business. Sadly, a lot of people are taken by scams of agencies promising false, unrealistic hopes. It is most important to get an agent who is reputable, and this is as easy as googling to see what others are saying about the agency. If you contact ACTRA, you also will get a list of agents whom they recommend. I also suggest taking acting classes at local theatres or summer programs. You are never too good to take classes and become better, and most of the actors I know still take them. You can always go to open casting calls or local theatres, which is how I got my first role. The biggest thing to remember is that it takes a lot of time and energy to be a successful actor. It may take months of years to get your first part, but every actor has been there, so stay strong. You will be a better actor for it in the end.
V.B. Any last words? Where else can we look out for you?
A.L. Lastly, I am so excited to be nominated for my second Gemini. It is such an honour, and I couldn't be more proud. I began shooting a new Shaftesbury show, which will be a whole new direction for me, since it will air on SmartPhones. I am really excited as it is the first of its kind. Also, My Dog's Christmas Miracle is coming out in December.