Ashley Is Ready For Her Agents Call
SHARON OOSTHOEK, THE SPECTATOR
May 17, 1999
Summary: After 10 years of dance lessons and five at Theatre Aquarius' Performing Arts Program, [Ashley Leggat] is well-placed for entering the world of television.It was while she was in the middle of the run of The Wizard of Oz that she was asked to shoot the National Geographic commercial. Ashley remembers spending the entire day filming the commercial and then speeding off to the theatre, jumping into her costume with just seconds to spare before running out on stage. After The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe finishes its run, Ashley says she has no plans to take on any more theatre work right away.
When 12-year-old Ashley Leggat watches television, it's not some entertaining diversion. It's serious business. Already an experienced performer at Theatre Aquarius, the Hamilton Mountain girl likes to study TV actors and think about how she might play their role. But whenever she catches a glimpse of herself hamming it up in a couple of recent commercials for Schneider's Meats, she says she can't help but cringe.
"Watching it isn't as much fun as doing it. It doesn't feel like it's me up there. I go way overboard," she says with an embarrassed grin.Yet after having done three commercials -- the first for National Geographic puzzles a couple of years ago -- Ashley is sure television is where she wants to be. "That's where she wants to head quicker than her little feet will take her," says her mother Patty Leggat.
Surveying the raft of dance trophies and cast party photos that ring her family's living room, it's easy to believe that's exactly where she's heading. Ashley is the only girl in a family of four older brothers whose hockey trophies compete for space with their sister's memorabilia.
"I used to think when she was young, 'Oh I hope there's something she's successful at too because the boys have been so successful," says her mother.
When Ashley began asking for dance classes at the age of three, the die was cast. After 10 years of dance lessons and five at Theatre Aquarius' Performing Arts Program, Ashley is well-placed for entering the world of television. She's playing the role of Lucy in Theatre Aquarius' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe which moves to Mississauga's Living Arts Centre at the end of the month. She's also appeared in a host of other Theatre Aquarius productions, including the role of Heather Gallant in Anne of Green Gables, a teacher munchkin in The Wizard of Oz and Marta in The Sound of Music. Despite the grueling schedule such a profile demands -- 12-hour rehearsal days for months at a time -- Ashley is an A student. Her mother, a retired teacher, says that's the deal. It is only by keeping up with her studies that she can continue to act.
"You have to use your time wisely. It would be hard now to go to school every day of my life."
Still, there are times when the pace is overwhelming, even for a 12-year-old with energy to spare. It was while she was in the middle of the run of The Wizard of Oz that she was asked to shoot the National Geographic commercial. Ashley remembers spending the entire day filming the commercial and then speeding off to the theatre, jumping into her costume with just seconds to spare before running out on stage.
"Oh my goodness. Don't even take me back to that night," she says in dramatic tones.
But after The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe finishes its run, Ashley says she has no plans to take on any more theatre work right away. "I want to keep myself free for my agent to call. To keep myself free, for Grade 8 at least, for TV."
Copyright 1999 The Hamilton Spectator. All rights reserved.