I was aimlessly strolling through the mall on a Tuesday evening when I got the call. It was a rainy day and I decided that instead of sitting on my couch, the next best thing would be to window shop. I had just walked out of a David’s Tea with a bunch of goodies when my phone rang: it was my friend Arnold who had recently moved to Vancouver. I had been working as an actress for the past six years, and he was an actor I had worked with many years ago.
“How are you doing Ash?!” he asked me with excitement.
“I’m good. You know, the usual,” I replied.
I forced a smile. I hated small talk because it reminded me of how boring my life had become: nothing new, nothing exciting.
“How’s it going for you in Toronto? You must’ve had such a busy year. Are you filming anything?” he asked.
I cringed at the question. I racked my brain trying to figure out how to tell him I hadn’t booked anything in more than a year, and after many tears, I had been forced to trade my seemingly glamorous life on television for a serving job which made me miserable.
“No…” I replied. “Nothing has really taken off for me. I’ve just been focusing on school. Serving on the side.”
He didn’t have to say much for me to hear that his heart had dropped. Next to my parents, Arnold had always been my biggest supporter.
“Asha… you seem uninspired,” he said. “I’m worried about you.”
Damn it. Here came the waterworks.
“You have so much to offer to the world. I think you should consider a trip to Vancouver… there’s so much going on out here. You’d be working in no time,” he said.
I didn’t want to be sold unrealistic dreams, so that was my cue to hang up.
Arnold’s idea sounded magical, but I was living in reality—and the reality was I was broke, still in school and working a part-time job. I lived with my parents, and if I moved to Vancouver, I would have no place to live, no way to get around and no food to eat.
I left the mall that evening feeling really sad. It was as if Arnold’s ridiculous offer was a reminder of how unhappy I was with my life. I tossed and turned that night with his words still on my mind. I didn’t want to allow myself to think about it, but when I did, my heart lit up. I stayed up all night coming alive with possibility… What if, against all odds, I took the trip? My head spun and my imagination ran wild as an old familiar friend starting knocking on my door: faith.
The next day, I bought myself a tin savings can from the dollar store and saved up all my serving tips. Two weeks later, I quit my job and I booked the trip. I had no plan, but for some strange reason, I had faith. I knew that if I wanted to be happy, I owed it to myself to take a leap and step into the unknown. I slept on the couch of a friend of a friend of a friend’s (who I had never met before!) for 10 weeks. I spent $30 on groceries a week, $20 on bus fare and became a badass on a budget.
I prayed every day, I wrote out my goals each morning, I burned sage and I meditated. I found representation and spent my days auditioning and taking online courses for school, which I was now attending part-time. My circumstances weren’t perfect, but I was the happiest I had ever been in my entire life. I found peace in my uncertainty and excitement in my beliefs. I became closer to God, closer to myself and closer to my friends and family.
I began writing down in my journal every morning: “I am going to book one of the biggest roles of my life in spring 2016.” I would write it over and over until I believed it, and then I would go about my day.
Then the audition for Riverdale came along. I auditioned for the role of Josie McCoy, the lead singer of band Josie and the Pussycats, over the next few weeks, going in four different times for callbacks. I also auditioned to play Tina Patel, Ginger Lopez and Valerie Brown. I remember being filled with anxiety the night before my fifth callback. I went in to read for Valerie in front of the director, writers and executive producers. I gave it all that I had, and I even sang a rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Who’s Loving You.” My nerves were through the roof, but I killed it! I thanked them for their time, and I went home that night the happiest I had ever been. I did my best, and that was all that mattered.
Those 10 weeks flew by, and as my time in Vancouver came to a close, I was at peace knowing that I would leave this beautiful place a different Asha than I was when I first arrived. With four days left, I hadn’t booked any work, but it didn’t matter because I was so damn proud of myself for doing it anyway. I said thank you to the universe for a life-changing trip and I packed my bags.
I found out I got the role of Melody Valentine on Riverdale the day before I was supposed to leave Vancouver.
Being a Pussycat has been the most rewarding role I have ever been able to play. Not only because it’s one of the biggest shows on television (my wish came true!), but because of what the project signified at that moment in my life. My journey to Riverdale taught me that anything is possible with a leap of faith. If I don’t take a chance on me, how can anyone else? I was willing to be inconvenienced to reach a greater version of myself. I went from hating my job, and feeling stuck and sad, to being a part of one of the biggest girl groups on television (and we are inspiring millions of little girls and boys around the world!). If that’s not a miracle, or divine intervention, or a sign to believe in your damn self, I don’t know what is.
My journey has taught me that you are worthy and capable of all you desire, but you’ll never know what the world has in store for you if you don’t take a chance. Now—in the words of my mother—I’m a freaking PUSSYCAT! With a little faith and divine intervention, I became the author of my story.