In today’s creative spotlight, we have the pleasure of introducing Ashlie Gibbs, a versatile and prolific storyteller, screenwriter, author, and podcast host who is carving her own path in the entertainment industry.
From her roots as an author, Ashlie has expanded her talents to screenwriting, creating compelling series such as “Sides”, and adapting her #iRemember book series into a short film. She also hosts the popular NFL podcast, “Not Your Average Cheerleader”. Our conversation covers her career journey, her approach to storytelling, and how she’s leveraging her unique skills and experiences to inspire others.
We’re intrigued by your series, “Sides”. Could you delve into its inspiration and how you approached its creation as a screenwriter?
“Sides” was originally created and directed by Joseph Walters. He invited me on as a co-writer and it was my first opportunity as a screenwriter. It was interesting to write in a drama series and act. I found the acting provided me with some inspiration and allowed me to understand a script from both a writer’s perspective and an actor’s perspective. It was fun and definitely a learning experience. People can watch it right now on YouTube.
Your #iRemember series has been extremely successful. How did you decide to adapt your first book into a short film, and what were some challenges you faced in the process?
The second I completed the first book I knew it was a future movie and/or television series. I wanted to get eyes on it in hopes of picking up a producer interested in making it into something bigger. A friend of mine suggested I make a short film. Instead of doing a book event (which is traditional for me) I invested the little bit of money I had into making a short film for the film festival circuits. Casting calls, budgeting, and locations for filming all posed a challenge. But having a great production and acting team made it a great learning experience and process that produced an amazing action packed 16 min film that will one day become something bigger.
Hosting the NFL podcast, “Not Your Average Cheerleader“, seems like a departure from your usual creative endeavors. How did this opportunity come about and what did you learn from it?
During the pandemic, I was with my best friend Crystal, chatting about the NFL season and whether it was going to happen or not. She turned to me and said, “Ashlie, I don’t know anything about football…you should do a podcast, I’m sure someone out there will listen.” So I did. Not only that but she also came up with the name. I love NFL football! I love reporting on it, studying it, and interviewing the players. Hosting has led me to interview two Super Bowl champs and, hopefully more opportunities. I think the podcast taught me more about embracing my personality and the things I love. Every week I get on the mic I get to laugh, joke, and discuss football with people listening all over the world. What a thrill!
As a Hampton University alumna with a degree in Political Science, how has your education influenced your writing, if at all?
I try not to let my education influence my writing. I am completing my PhD now in law and public policy – scholarly writing is much different from fictional writing. Fictional writing is a casual everyday conversational voice. Scholarly writing is much more poise and structured. I try my best to keep them separate. My book editor constantly sends me edits to fix when I give her drafts of my books, “Ashlie no one talks this way!” (laughing) and I realized how proper I sounded and I end up fixing it.
Can you share a little about your upcoming 4th installment to the #iRemember series? What can readers and fans look forward to?
The first book follows Valerie uncovering who she is. The second book takes a look back at her training and how she became what she was. The third book she is up against her sister who has unfinished business with her. The fourth book, all bets have to be off. I wanted to discover more of the relationship between Valerie and her father who created her into the trained assassin she is. The final battle is between them. Fans can look forward to twists, surprising turns, and more emotions that draw you in as you linger on every page wondering what will happen next. It’s a thrill ride for sure.
You’ve been writing stories since you were 10 years old. Can you share one of your early works or memories that made you realize that storytelling was your calling?
My first book was a psy-phi genre which was hard for me to write but it was interesting. That was a trilogy and when I finished the 3rd book I knew what genre I wanted to write in, and it wasn’t that! (laughs) But it ignited my passions not just for writing but for publishing. It removed my fears of sharing my works with the world. Now I live in writing mystery action spy thrillers. I love it.
Your quote, “Always be a first rate version of yourself rather than a second rate version of someone else,” is quite inspirational. Could you share an instance from your career where you’ve had to put this philosophy into practice?
I think when I was uncovering my writing style and podcasting style. I thought I had to write like everyone else, and host like everyone else…but no. The second I dropped that mindset, I found my comfort behind the mic and behind the computer keyboard. I thought I had to be like everyone else, but finding confidence in doing things how I wanted even if it was different…worked for me. I read feedback reactions from fans both for my podcasts and books and I knew I found my place.
You’ve had an incredibly diverse career – from author, to screenwriter, to podcast host. How do you balance these different roles and what advice would you give to others looking to follow a similar path?
Work on one thing at a time. As you get ideas write them down, build business vision boards. It helps keep you inspired and keep you driven. That’s what I do, one task and one thing at a time. My advice is also take mental breaks, allow yourself to be inspired by the people and world around you. Don’t be afraid to be different!
As an accomplished author and screenwriter, what’s one piece of advice or lesson you’ve learned that you wish you had known when you first started out in your career?
You will make mistakes, you will invest money and may not reap a profit back…but don’t give up. If you truly believe in yourself and your idea, keep at it – trust the process and learn what you can.
What are you working on? What’s next? What should people look out for from you? How can they support you?
I am working on the 4th instalment to the #iRemember book series and adapting the second book into audiobook form. I am also about to start the summer episodes and 5th season of my NFL Podcast “Not Your Average Cheerleader.” I love all the support and people can do that by purchasing the book, following the podcasts, and sharing your thoughts with me! I love to hear from the readers and listeners via my websites.
As we conclude, our conversation with Ashlie has not only unfolded the fascinating layers of this craft but also shed light on its key challenges and rewarding moments.
Screenwriting is not merely a profession, it is a journey of storytelling, where ideas evolve into engaging narratives for feature films, television productions, or video games.
As a freelance profession, it offers a canvas of limitless possibilities while demanding a unique blend of creativity, discipline, and resilience. It’s clear that while the journey of a screenwriter can be filled with hurdles, the joy of seeing one’s ideas come to life on screen is an unparalleled experience.
We hope it inspires both established and budding writers alike, emphasizing that in the world of screenwriting, every story matters and every voice has the power to create an impact.