Feminist Hero Friday: Ashly Perez

By Michelle Kiang

You may recognize Ashly Perez from the many videos she produces and stars in on the internet’s immensely popular of BuzzFeed’s videos. Before BuzzFeed, Ashly started writing and blogging while working as an English teacher in Korea, an experience she has written about. Although Ashly has been a producer for BuzzFeed since 2014, she has worked for BuzzFeed since 2012 as a writer and later the travel editor in the New York office before moving to the LA office (according to her LinkedIn profile).

Ashly became a producer, somewhat by accident, after getting asked to be in other people’s videos because she “was loud” and “seemed jovial” when working in the LA office. In an interview with the Call Your Girlfriend Podcast, Ashly talks about when  she began working in video, saying “the second I got here, I was like, I want to make stuff for women about women.”

The description of BuzzFeed Violet, the channel where Ashly’s and others’ videos are posted, reads, “BuzzFeed Violet: the good kind of awkward. Short, relatable videos that are totally you. New videos from your favorite characters every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday!” BuzzFeed Violet is the only character universe out of BuzzFeed’s four channels. The channel has 2,896,637 subscribers and  872,003,955 views. While doing research for this FHF profile, I also came upon fan sites, such as this one, which are run by bloggers from all over the world. The content Ashly produces is widely viewed and incredibly influential, and so is Ashly.

Ashly is currently working on the second season of her series “You Do You,” a 12 episode mini-series focusing on the lives of four women friends.

In Ashly Perez and Brittany Ashley talk queerness and coming out in “You Do You” By Trish Bendix Ashley says, “I think the thing we wanted most to achieve with BuzzFeed Violet and this series is simply to show an honest portrayal of young women going through a change, and I hope we did that, I hope that we showed what it’s like to have a crush, go through a breakup, and feel a little lost in your 20s, if we did that then I’ll be more than satisfied.”  

The series, which was written by a Brittany Ashley, a lesbian woman, explores gender, race, and sexuality as it comes up in the actors’ lives. The show aims to be relatable to all and complicates and challenges the two-dimensional female characters commonly portrayed in the media. Ashly speaks on the connection between her and her character saying,

“The decision to ‘come out’ in this way was an evolution,” Ashly said. “The characters on BuzzFeed Violet are loosely-based on us as real people so the more I discovered about my queerness in my real life, the weirder it felt to hide this part of me from our audience. We created BuzzFeed Violet to be a portrayal of the complicated, confusing women we all knew in real life, and it just felt like it was time to share my own life a little more honestly.”

“You Do You,” without even trying to, challenges mainstream portrayals of young women, women of color, and gay and bisexual women because the writer and actors are basing the characters’ experiences on their personal experiences.The best part about this series is that with the views and subscriptions the channel has, and the mass following of young people dedicated to following the lives of the BuzzFeed Violet  characters, it IS the mainstream - over 22 million people watched the series on youtube or purchased it on iTunes.

In addition to creating very popular content for BuzzFeed, Ashly hosts a live talk show on her Facebook called “Get Real” with Ashly Perez, in which she interviews her friends at BuzzFeed (it’s very good, and you should watch it) and is the creator of the hashtag #LadiesMakingThings which she uses to support, promote, and bring attention to women creator’s work, which you can find on her twitter. Ashly Perez is our Feminist Hero this Friday because of her massive influence on media, her quality content, and her support of other women creators.  Below are some videos by Ashly:

Tiny Hand Problems

When You’re The Weirdo In The Group

What Should You Do After You Get Rejected?