19-year-old actress, writer, and director Ashley Rae Harper is a creative with big dreams. This summer she is continuing to chase her goals in the world of TV and film while volunteering to support children’s literacy. We spoke with Ashley about what it means to her to help children gain access to literacy (and math!) and her work on her teen drama series Am I Lost?.
A student at Central Piedmont Community College, Ashley spends her time studying mathematics and computer science, but her true love is acting. Formerly an athlete, it was an injury that led Ashley to the performing arts. “I started acting around 14 or so, and then I just started to write and direct and produce. That’s what I do. I love to do that.”
That love is obvious. It wasn’t long after finding acting that Ashley started to push herself toward roles behind the screen. An aspiring writer and director, Ashley wrote her first series, a teen drama—inspired by popular shows like All American and Legacies—titled Am I Lost?, at age 16. The series tells the story of Janet, a high schooler dealing with conflict at home amid her parents’ divorce and bullying from her younger twin sisters. Her one comfort is her boyfriend Connor, but Janet doesn’t know that Connor is actually a 23-year-old out to steal her parents’ money. Are you intrigued? We definitely are.
While she gathers the resources to develop Am I Lost?, Ashley is working on short film projects and acting roles as well as promoting the work of other teens with her Instagram Live show Ashley and Friends where she interviews teen actors, entrepreneurs, and influencers (like teen fashion designer Isabella Barrett) and celebrates their accomplishments.
Ashley is also partnered with the Little Lighthouse Foundation this summer to promote youth literacy. Little Lighthouse is a non-profit that works to provide fun and educational programs to underserved children in Florida. As part of the program, Ashley will be reading on Instagram Live Monday, August 23 at 3 PM EST. For the reading, she chose The Lion and The Mouse by Jerry Pinkney, a beautifully illustrated retelling of Aesop’s fable “The Lion and The Mouse.” Ashley shared with us that she hopes the live reading will bring children tuning in some happiness and spark a love of reading. She also would love to volunteer her math skills to help with tutoring in the future.
“I think just helping anyone, with math especially because math is one of those subjects where you’ll get to a certain point where you understand it and then there will be one thing you don’t understand that just throws you off,” she said. “I really think that I’ll be able to help them understand reading better, and if they have any tutoring services for like math, then I’ll be able to help with that, too.”
With back-to-school season upon us, Ashley is ready to get back to working on her degree. While she’s in school, she’ll also be focusing on short film projects and auditioning for acting roles. She is also a Best Director nominee for the Skyline Performer Awards for her Am I Lost? trailer! The winners will be announced on October 21, 2021.