Ashlei Stevens is a middle child, only girl, who grew up in Lexington South Carolina, which to most means the town next to Columbia. As a child Ashlei enjoyed reading and writing- she took a book everywhere. Her mother, who works in elementary education, made sure Ashlei and her two brothers read often and that the only television in their home was in the living room.
Ashlei’s true love for writing developed when she was in the 4th grade and had to keep a journal for class. Her 4th grade teacher Ms. Miller was always excited to read Ashlei’s stories and hear her recite them out load. It was then that she gained a passion for public speaking. When she was young her mother also began teaching her Spanish, which led to her affinity for languages.
While Ashlei was in middle school she became involved in drama and acting. And at around eleven years old she did a few public service announcements that promoted reading and math on South Carolina Educational Television as a part of a summer acting program that she was participating in.
Years passed and Ashlei went on to attend Winthrop University in Rockhill, South Carolina majoring in broadcast journalism and modern language with a focus in Spanish, due to her mothers early influence. After graduating college, Ashlei took a summer internship with the New York Times at the education desk. It was then that she fell in love with the culture of New York City. She soon returned to South Carolina and vowed she’d move back to New York before settling down and having a family or turning 30.
For four years Ashlei covered education as a newspaper reporter for the Herald Journal in South Carolina. On the side, to fuel her passion, she did several on air pieces for the local television station about education topics and auditioned for local news positions. She then went on to work at the South Carolina Governor’s office as education policy advisor for Governor Mark Sanford. During her time at the Governor’s office, Ashlei continued to reach for her dreams and applied for on-air positions, such as anchor and reporter. In June 2009 after hearing “no” time and time again, Ashlei decided to leave her position at the Governor’s office and move to New York with no job or apartment lined up… because she wanted to pursue her dreams. When she arrived in New York, Ashlei crashed on a friend’s couch for around two months and soon found a job and place to live. “With all things you’re working for, comes great sacrifice,” says Ashlei.
During that time Ashlei also started DPVN Entertainment an online arts and entertainment television show on DPVN.net.
In early 2011 Ashlei heard about a Time Warner Cable casting call for a new television show they were developing called “Born To Shine.” She showed up, auditioned awesomely, and had the opportunity to sit on set and interview a celebrity guest. In the end she won the title, Ashlei Stevens Co-Host, Time Warner Cable’s “Born To Shine”, which was created as a way to highlight the contributions of African Americans within entertainment and the community.
During the late summer of 2011 Time Warner Cable was very instrumental in working with all the hosts to ensure they were prepared for taping season. They set each host up with mentors in their cities. Ashlei also did some preparing of her own, by studing her peers like Shaun Robinson, who she admires for always appearing on point and professional.
During our chat Ashlei pointed out how media has an impact on the American youth, especially females. There are a lot of young girls who think they need to look, act and dress a certain way. “With shows like “Born To Shine” females will see that they can do what they want to do and still keep their morals,” says Ashlei.
Ashlei plans to use her position as a talk show host to help improve the lives of others. In the future she also hopes to have twins, host an internationally syndicated talk show, and help build up her community in Brooklyn and back home in South Carolina. “When you really have a calling and you know what you’re supposed to be doing, the barriers will be knocked down and you will get there in due time,” states Ashlei Stevens.
*Be sure to check out “Born To Shine” airing now on Time Warner Cable’s On Demand section and visit the facebook page to learn more information.
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