Erica Ash has always been that fearless, funny, and fabulous girlfriend in my head. I have been mildly obsessed with the actress since her early days as a sketch comedian on Fox Network’s “Mad TV.” Since then the talented actress has snagged coveted roles as Bridgette Hart, Kevin Hart’s fictional ex-wife on BET’s scripted reality series, “Real Husbands of Hollywood,” and Mary Charles “M-Chuck” Calloway on the STARZ hit series, “Survivor’s Remorse,” which premieres for another season on Sunday, August 20.
On screen and off, Ash exudes a relatable kind of charm and hilarious quick wit that makes you feel as if you’ve known her for years. As a military kid having lived abroad and all down the East Coast of the U.S., Ash developed her lifelong case of wanderlust at an early age. “I’ve always loved traveling and collecting different experiences,” she says. “It’s shaped so much of my perspective and my outlook on the world.”
I had a chance to chat with the actress to discuss her passion for travel, food, and acting. Here’s a side to Ash that we rarely get to see or read about.
I’m not going to beat around the bush here, you’re talking to an audience of foodies and inquiring minds need to know: What is your favorite, go-to comfort food?
“My momma biscuits. And, you have to write it just like I said it. Don’t add an apostrophe at the end of momma. Don’t do it, because you disrespect the biscuits by making it grammatically correct.
Those must be some amazing biscuits.
Yes. She makes them from scratch and serves them with pure cane syrup. I actually posted a tutorial on how to get the perfect sop on the biscuit with the cane syrup. It’s serious, Ebony. My mother’s brunches are legendary. She makes this country sausage and fluffy eggs and these grits that are so creamy, you don’t need any salt or butter or anything.
Both of your parents were in the military. That just sounds like a lot of structure. How did they react to you wanting to be an actor?
It’s interesting that you say that. Not only were they both in the military but they’re also ministers, so I was a preacher’s kid. They definitely had a different idea in mind for me.
Hence the pre-med degree from Emory University?
Exactly. I planned on becoming a doctor. They sent me to school for medicine and it was something that I could do. I was good at it. I was smart enough, but it just didn’t drive me. I found myself getting burned out very quickly on it and I just needed a break. It didn’t occur to me that I would be doing this, but I just knew I needed a break before continuing on into the next phase of my career path which would have been medical school.
How did that break lead you to Hollywood?
I definitely took the indirect route. I took some time off after school and went to Japan. I thought I’d teach English and earn a little money to finance travel and just figure it out. Well, while I was over there, I ended up falling into a gig singing background for this famous Japanese singer. One night a model scout was in the audience at one of our shows and he had a client who needed a black model. We talked, I fit the description, and so that lead to me doing some runway modeling in Japan. And, that opportunity eventually lead me into doing some ringside announcing for a huge fighting association in Japan.
Wait, so you went to Japan to teach and ended up singing background in a band, becoming a runway model, and working as a ring announcer for a major boxing association?
Yes. It was basically just me saying yes to all of these random things that had zero to do with what I thought I was supposed to be doing and allowing the universe to guide me to what I was really supposed to be doing.
What an amazing story. I’m always fascinated by the miraculous things that can occur when we’re open to it. It sounds like dabbling into so many different aspects of the entertainment industry really helped you to discover your passion.
For sure. When I decided to make this transition and really start doing the performing arts thing instead of medicine, I didn’t tell my parents for a year. I got fully established in it, I made my mistakes, I had my setbacks, and I did it quietly. I did it on my own. And then, when everything was going smoothly when I was able to bring my mom and my sister over to visit me in my own apartment that was fully furnished on my own dime, that’s when I told them.
Smart. Do you think that living abroad made it easier or harder for you to pursue this path?
Good question. I think that living abroad forced me to really get to know myself and be honest about what it was that I wanted. When you’re in a country where you don’t know anyone and you don’t speak the language, you’re forced to deal with yourself and it can be very overwhelming. I didn’t want to call home because I wasn’t ready to talk to people about what I was feeling. So, I started keeping a journal, and I really got into it. I would just pour my heart out. There were some journal entries that were just like “AHHHHHH,” but then on the next page, there would be complete calm in response to the madness. It was really very therapeutic. I definitely think that whole experience helped me to become clear about my path.
I totally get that. Travel is sort of magical that way, isn’t it?
It is. I just love it. I like being able to be in a different space and have a change of scenery. I’ll always incorporate travel into my life. As an adult I’ve lived in Japan, London, Switzerland, Germany and I’ve traveled everywhere; India, Spain, Amsterdam, you name it. Every year I try to visit at least two new places where I’ve never been.
What kind of travel experiences do you go for?
It depends on who I’m going with and what I’m coming off of when I go. So, if I’ve been working really hard, like right now I’m shooting two movies at the same time, so when I’m done with this, I’m going to want to relax. But last year I went to Spain and I moved around and got into the culture. Every place is different. Every experience is different.
So, with a thriving acting career and a bucket list full of uncharted destinations, what are you most looking forward to in her next travel destination?
Food. No matter where I go, I love to eat great food! That’s what tops it for me. Eating great food and drinking the local drink, whatever wine or liquor is popular in that region. I have a very eclectic bar in my house.