Budding singer gives her take on performing


In the rapidly evolving entertainment industry, actress and singer-songwriter Ashley Noel Long is on the rise. The freshman majoring in theatre was one of 21 finalists selected out of a pool of 11,000 applicants for the YoungArts Theater program. The National YoungArts Foundation serves as the main agency for the U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts, the highest honor for young artists. The foundation’s mission is to nurture the talent of the most accomplished young artists and assist them during their educational and professional development.

Long was introduced to music at a young age and instantly became captivated by the idea of expressing herself through acting and singing. She sat down with the Daily Trojan to talk about the beginning of her journey and the road ahead.


Daily Trojan: In what moment did you realize music was your calling?

Ashley Long: A universal language was fostered in my heart and embedded into my little world at a young age — music. From my understanding, music has always been in my life. I remember the first time I heard my father play guitar, an unexpected chill ran down my spine. I discovered instantaneously that music has an extraordinary power to evoke emotion. Unbeknownst to me, this discovery soon sparked a passion in my life, and I admittedly became consumed with music. Music gave me the freedom to write my thoughts and feelings on paper, bond with my father, and capture life’s moments and their ensuing emotions.

DT: How was starting a musical career at a young age?

AL: I never really thought of my music as a career when I was younger. I was really enjoying writing, performing at venues, and meeting various people that influenced my life greatly. Around the age of 14, I realized that music and the arts were all that ever made sense to me. When I perform, I simply see the world in a different light.

DT: Did your perspective on what you were doing change as you got older?

AL: Honestly, every moment that has happened to me artistically has shaped me to who I am wholeheartedly. Music has been a cathartic escape where I can release my thoughts and be heard. I begin to love and appreciate people more and have realized that the arts have that power to change lives, hearts and minds.

DT: Who are your musical inspirations and why?

AL: I like to take influences mainly from the sounds of Norah Jones, Carole King, Adele, Ingrid Michaelson, but also many other brilliant songwriters inspire me on a daily basis.


DT: What has been your most meaningful performance?

AL: I don’t know if I can really decide on one performance … There have been so many memorable moments at various shows that are important in their own aspect. If I had to decide, I’d say playing for the president of Capitol Records at a venue in Texas was an incredible experience that stands out.

DL: You’ve had the opportunity of working with various highly respected professionals in the entertainment industry. Which was the most impactful of these experiences?

AL: I have really been blessed to work with such brilliant and inspiring artists in the medium of the arts. Nikki Pederson, a highly esteemed Texas talent scout, is one of the mostoutstanding individuals that really guided my artistic career at a young age. She remains as one of my mentors and greatest influence in my life. Additionally, at the age of fourteen, I was blessed to meet the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Sarah Kelly. Sarah eventually changed my music journey and thus, my life. Sarah Kelly essentially took me under her wing and began honing my skills as a singer-songwriter. Through her guidance, I have written over 20 songs, performed at a multitude of live venues, and recorded an EP album that was released last year, called In Your Own Skin. I will infinitely appreciate and cherish Sarah Kelly’s mentorship. She was truly one of the greatest influences in my life.

DT: Since you’re a current freshmen in college, do you fear that your artistic/musical career may deprive you from having a typical college experience? Why or why not?

AL: College has given me the ability to learn and grow as an artist. I am gaining more life experience and becoming a more holistic being and stronger artist from studying here. I have had phenomenal experiences here at USC and made incredible, lasting friendships. I believe that all of the experiences I have made here will only aid into the work I do. I have attained such a great deal of artistic opportunities here at USC performing in shows, working on films, seeing incredible speakers, attaining a highly competitive internship, working with phenomenal faculty, and more from being here. It is all a journey, and I am happy where I am at and excited to see where it leads in the future.

DT: Is your family supportive of your career? How?

AL: Extremely. I cannot imagine any of the experiences I have had without the unbelievable help and support from family. My mom and dad amaze me with their constant support and generosity, and I am infinitely thankful. I would not have been able to experience and accomplish what I have thus far without their encouragement, support and constant love.

DT: How did you feel when you were selected as one of the 21 YoungArts Theater Winners?

AL: YoungArts was truly the most powerful experience of my life. The lifelong friendships I formed, the unbelievable connections I gathered, the brilliant and insightful knowledge that was shared with me, the phenomenal opportunities I was presented and the constant kindness I was shown by the alumni, mentors and staff, will always remain my inspiration and motivation to continue to grow, explore and challenge myself creatively and confidently.

DT: Can you tell me more about this award and its meaning?

AL: I was one of the 21 [finalists] selected out of a pool of [11,000] talented applicants. I received a generous scholarship of aid in my college endeavors to attend National YoungArts week in Miami. I am forever influenced by my teacher’s tear-inspiring and educational presence, such as Shalita Grant, Zuzanna Szadkowski, Josh Groban, James Caan, Phylicia Rashad and more beautiful beings. YoungArts was an incredible experience and I recommend anyone in high school pursuing the arts to apply to this program.

DT: What is your short-term goal as an actress and as a musician?

AL: I want to hone my craft as an actor and singer-songwriter and continue to learn and grow in all facets of the arts.

DT: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

AL: Doing what I love: acting in any medium of television, film and theater in Los Angeles as a working actor, along with continuing to write and perform my music live professionally.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Ashley Long was one of 21 winners selected out of a pool of 17,000 applicants. She was one of 21 finalists out of a pool of 11,000. The Daily Trojan regrets the error.