• About A Girl: Ashley Symone Lee

    This week we're debuting "Post Script," a lookbook film that coincides with New York designer Samantha Pleet's newest collaboration with UO. What we love about Samantha's work and multifaceted projects is that they feel so genuine — using her network of creative and inspiring friends from around the country, she creates dreamy worlds and stories centered around real girls. Enter: Ashley Symone Lee, the subject of "Post Script" and an LA native whose appearance in Pleet's film made us want to know everything about her. Ashley and Samantha first met while Ashley was working part-time at a local vintage store in Los Angeles. While in town for work, Pleet popped into the shop to browse and the duo instantly hit it off (though Ashley admits she had a bit of a "is this happening to me?!" moment when Pleet reached out to involve her in the film). 

    Wrapping up her final year at UCLA with focuses in French, literature, and film, Ashley is whip-smart, driven, and a free-thinker, with interests and inspirations spanning from Surrealist art and women's issues to horror movies to Mariah Carey. Her creative insatiability is contagious — we found ourselves Googling every reference she listed off, and predict big results from whatever this creative go-getter does next. 
    Photos by Nastassia Clucas

    Above: Ashley in her Echo Park neighborhood, wearing our MINKPINK gingham shorts and cropped tee.

    Ashley grew up in LA, in a family who encouraged her to dream big and dabble in different areas — getting an education and experience in writing, acting, photography, film, and art. "I’ve been writing for as long as I’ve known how to," she explains. "My mother writes and my grandmother is a poet, so I guess it’s in my blood. When I was a kid I spent hours with my books and crayons, dreaming up scenarios and crafting visual stories in my head."

    "I believe that my perspective, and the perspectives of people like me need to be represented, but are often rendered invisible," she says. "We need more directors, writers, and cinematographers who are women, women of color, people of color, and people from disadvantaged backgrounds... I want to help facilitate that growth and be able give back to a community of people who are just like me. That’s something that motivates me to follow my voice and vision in media and film....but making it to graduation is my main concern at the moment [laughs]." 

    "My interests are all over the place. I am always daydreaming. My brain is a haze of little fantasies. I am constantly inspired by the mystical and esoteric. I like romantic, melancholy works of literature that also deal with women’s issues and act as cultural critiques of the social contexts in which they were written."

    Can you share more about the projects you're working on right now? We hear there's a screenplay in the works...
    I just finished my first complete, set in stone screenplay for my short film. It’s a comedic, experimental, surrealist story that follows the bizarre tale of a girl’s inexplicable attraction to a Halloween costume. I’m working on a project with my mom, who is also a writer. It’s a series that tells the story of a significant part of her interesting and eccentric life. 

    My roommate and I have been joking about starting a band, but I think it might actually turn into something. We want to start with a radio show and make it more of a collective that celebrates the presence of women who rap and perform in other genres. I also want to
    launch an annual publication that focuses on gender, fashion, photography and includes essays on everything from social justice, cultural criticism, film and the occult.

    Can you walk us through a typical day in the life for you?
    My typical day starts at 5am. I’m out of the house by 6:45, in class by 8 where I am likely to stay for the next eight or ten hours. If I’m lucky enough to find time to work out or enjoy a drink somewhere in there, I will. I also try to write a little everyday. 

    Ashley's current inspirations:
    . I’ve recently been very much into Japanese works as well. I invested in a translated copy of the Manyoshu, and right now I’m reading Confessions of Lady Nijo.
    I was never much into the horror genre, but lately, I’ve been deeply influenced by surrealist horror and psychedelic fantasy films like Alejandro Jordorowsky’s "
    The Holy Mountain,"
     and Jeromil Jires’ "Valerie and Her Week of Wonders."
    3. The rich colors and surrealism of Jesus Franco’s films and Dario Argento’s "
    4. Surreal art,
     Man Ray and Dora Maar, Guy Bourdain, and the photography of Malick Sidibe.
    5. The classic illustrations of Erté and Aubrey Beardsley, and the modern illustrations of Natalie Krim. 

    Ashley's favorite spots in LA:
    1. Cafe Valerie near my house in Echo Park is a cozy spot for floral teas and delicious pastries. 
    2. I go to House of Intuition, Spellbound Sky, and Mystic’s Altar for herbs, candles, crystals, and tinctures. 
    3. I love luxuriating at Olympic Spa. They have 
    a warm jade floor and a relaxing mugwort bath. 
    is my number one stop for late-night Korean food. 
    5. I go to Los Cocos for the best pupusas and Salvadoran pastries. 
    6. The interior at Good Luck Bar in Los Feliz is super fun
    7. I’m a total nerd but my favorite place to be on a Saturday night is
    in West LA. They have the greatest archive of collectible first editions, classic literary treasures, and vintage ephemera. I go there whenever I need to get 
    and the Nuart Theater right around the corner are also great places to go. 

    In rotation on her playlist:
    3. Dev Hynes
    4. Kelela
    5. Connan Mockasin
    6. LSDXOXO
    7. Suicideyear
    8. And throwbacks to: Saäda Bonaire, Motown, Mariah Carey, and Lil Kim.

    Watch "Post Script"
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