Keaghlan Ashley Red Till Dead - Interview
While attending Tom Savini's school of makeup effects, I was lucky enough to meet some pretty amazing and talented people. Some of which I think of as very near and dear friends. Ms. Keaghlan Ashley is one of them. Keaghlan is a very talented actress, singer, and artist. She's currently teaching on the West Coast and this past week I was lucky enough to catch up and interview her on what it's like to be a full time artist and keeping up a true passion of something you love.
1) You seem to be a Jack of all traits. Were you raised in a home where you could express yourself creatively?
I was blessed to grow up in a family of musicians and artists. My earliest memories are of going to one gig or another and watching my family, one by one get up to perform. My parents have always been incredibly supportive of my dreams whatever they may be. My mother fostered of love of make believe, and was very creative and ready to inspire. I am pleased to say that I have never once worn a store bought Halloween costume. It was her infectious love of creating characters that made me ultimately want to be the artist I am today. My father is unfailing supportive of my pursuit in the arts. Whether requesting I get up and sing or helping me get the tools I need to create the things I want he's always there. I wouldn't be half the person or artist I am without their guidance.
2) Top three shows/performances you've done that are your favorite and why?
The top spot undoubtedly goes to my performance as Fantine in a very low budget of Les Miserables. It was a role that pushed me as an actor and a vocalist. I Dreamed a Dream is a song that I will forever find new meaning to and will never grow tired of singing. Another role that you mention later was that of Cheryl in Evil Dead: The Musical. It was my first regional theatre experience and was surrounded by veterans of the craft. The role allowed me to have the most fun of any show I've done to date. It combined my two passions of musical theatre and horror so perfectly. When I was finished "killing" a character I had the task of turning them into a zombie to reappear onstage. It was vocally a challenging role because I had never been given the freedom of such belting numbers. Finally the single performance with Ventura, California's Master Chorale in conjuction with the New West Symphony Orchaestra counts the largest group I have ever sung with to the largest audience. I will never forget the feeling of enormous collaboration and the energy of the crowd. We sang Beethoven's ninth and it is by far one of the most exhilirating moments I've experienced as a performer.
3) When did your interest in the theater happen?
My interest in singing goes back as long as I can remember. Growing up in such a musical family it's almost inevitable that you end up onstage at the insistence of someone sooner or later. My involvement and passion in theatre began as somewhat of an accident however; on the day of the West Side Story auditions my sophomore year of high school.
4) Favorite actress/actor of all time and why?
Judy Garland, always and forever. She reigned supreme in a time when you had to be truly talented. A triple threat from the start, she sang, danced and acted so effortlessly she made it look easy. I adored her in The Wizard of Oz as a child and as an adult I see her works as a constant inspiration. She was the first face I ever attempted to sculpt and my determination to capture her only makes me love her even more. She was a classic beauty in a classic time.
5) You teach now, what is the most challenging part of your job and what is the most rewarding?
The most rewarding is seeing a student with no experience in special effects create something remarkable and surprise themselves with it. Their hard work and creativity with solely the skills and techniques I've given them is incredibly inspiring. I would say the most challenging part is getting a student to believe in themselves or working with students who are in it for the wrong reason whether they just want to meet famous people or they figured makeup wasn't that hard so they'd make easy money off it. Makeup is definitely not easy and not for everyone. The passionate ones are what makes the job worth while.
6) Favorite makeup you've ever done?
My favorite makeup to this day is still my interpretation of the Flying Monkey from The Wizard of Oz. It was my final project while at school and it was a complete labor of love. I was responsible for every piece that went into this makeup. I sculpted, molded, cast, hand punched hair and applied the full facial prosthetic, the ears, fabricated the wings and designed and altered costume pieces to fit the look. It took almost 8 hours to apply when all was said and done but when I was finished it was highly praised by all of the faculty and I've never felt more accomplished. I definitely learned a great deal from it as well. I'll never hand lay a monkey's hair ever again. That's what took the bulk of the application time and I had a wonderful friend and colleague who helped me by the name of Samm Finn. I also wish I had gotten a little more creative in the facial sculpt and made teeth for it, but it's definitely a makeup I wish to recreate and make so much better some day.
7) Name your top ten favorite movies of all time.
In no particular order: The Wizard of Oz, Heathers, Scream, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Young Frankenstein, Garden State, Death Proof, Sixteen Candles, James and the Giant Peach, 10 Things I Hate About You
8) Favorite top five songs of all time?
Get Happy by Judy Garland
Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley
People Are Strange by The Doors
Fever by Peggy Lee
Run For Your Life by Nancy Sinatra
9) You appeared in a musical version of Evil Dead. A performance I was lucky enjoy to witness. What are your thoughts on the remake or remakes in general?
I'm actually very excited about the remake, from what I've seen in the trailer it is sure to be a very different film from the original. The modern audience expects a darker film and it seems to live up to that expectation. I'm generally opposed to remakes when they are rushed and lack a clear story without any real character development, they show a lack of consideration for the original source material and often seem lazy especially when done as a shot for shot remake. I think the modern horror audience are more intelligent than that and are demanding remakes that show more respect to the original franchises. That's why we're seeing remakes like Evil Dead and Carrie, and hopefully when they finally do Child's Play they will be films that can carry on the legacy and bring these franchises to the new generation of horror fans.
10) What do you do in you're spare time?
What's that? My spare time is generally devoted to my own artwork and the personal pursuits of my growing company Red Till Dead Design. I'm constantly looking for new ideas and new ways to make my art more accessible to the public. I feel that art is something that should be shared with everyone and I'm always striving to become a better artist so that my audience can expect something bigger and better from me consistently.
11) What can we expect from Red Till Dead this year? Any projects coming up?
I'm currently working to expand Red Till Dead Design and developing a new products for my upcoming collection. I'm hoping to get my new line of Fashion Apparel, Custom Accessories and Home Decor available for purchase by the end of the year. Until then I'm in the concept stages of several projects in the works including a stage play script and a graphic novel. I guess you guys will just have to wait and see.