Meet the Creator of My Beautiful Pain Series: Ashley Wooten
Ashley Wooten is the visionary behind My Beautiful Pain, a lesbian web-series that earned over 1 million total views in it’s first season and has more than 22,000 subscribers on YouTube. Like many indie filmmakers, Ashley has had to wear many hats by creating, writing and directing her series. She has used that to fuel the longevity of the series that is returning for Season 2 on Monday, January 21, 2019! My Beautiful Pain follows Torion, a successful TV network CEO at the first black owned LGBT network. Torion is working through her own relationship issues, as well as a fractured relationship with her only living parent, and works alongside her two close friends Mo and Kacey. The show’s relatability is undeniable, covering topics like substance abuse, working with an ex-partner, an unaccepting parent, divorce and even racial profiling by law enforcement. Meshed in with the serious topics, there are comedic moments and an awesome display of black girl magic!
Ashley has been directing films since 2016 and began writing long before that. The show takes place in Tampa, Florida, Ashley’s hometown and debuted on YouTube on July 13, 2017. Ashley also owns her own production company, Lajoi Media under which she produces My Beautiful Pain and other film projects.
Did you always want to be a filmmaker? When did you put out your first project?
I always wanted to be in the entertainment business. I started with music production and later found my true passion for film in 2013.
What was the inspiration for My Beautiful Pain series?
I was in a “situationship” with someone who I called a “beautiful pain”. Meaning, something or someone who feels good to you but not good for you. I decided to write about my situation but also give it a different spin by adding the black women entrepreneurship to it.
Are any of your personal experiences woven into any of the characters?
Yes, in this series the character Tory has some similarities to my past, relationship wise.
What’s harder with film-making, getting started or keeping it going?
Getting started is the hardest because with indie film makers we have to do a lot. Sometimes it can get very overwhelming due to us not having a huge budget for cast and crew or just not knowing if people would even like what we put out. I procrastinated for two years before I put out the show because of the unknown and the “what if's”. I keep the creative flow going because I keep my mind going 24/7 which constantly brings me new ideas.
Why do you think there are so few women in filmmaking? And even less out LGBT women in filmmaking?
Film making has always been a male dominated industry until women started realizing that we can direct and write just as good or even better than men. I think we are doing well right now and we will continue to grow as female content creatives, whether it’s a straight female or in the LGBT community.
What advice do you have for up and coming female directors and filmmakers?
Don't wait for validation from others. If you have an idea go for it. Just shoot anything. By just going out and shooting your short film or mini-series you will gain all the experience and confidence you need.
In the writing process, was there any pressure in making sure women of color are portrayed a certain way in the LGBTQ community?
Most definitely. I've seen LGBTQ women of color portrayed as everything else except educated women. That aspect was very important in creating the show. I wanted to show real life issues such as addiction, relationship problems, and family conflict alongside showing us building a business and the struggle of entrepreneurship for LGBTQ people of color in particular.
WHAT WOULD ASHLEY DO?
Ashley has mastered showing us how her cast members navigate through their own drama and tribulations. I wanted to put Ashley in the hot seat and ask her how she’d handle some of the same issues that she has thrown at her characters.
How would you personally handle a spouse/partner with substance abuse issues?
Due to my mother being a substance abuse counselor, I’ve learned to have patience and assist to the best of my ability. You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped so try your hardest but don’t stress yourself out trying to force someone to get help.
Do you believe in pressuring someone you’re dating into a “title” after being with someone for a long period of period of time?
No I do not. You should know within 6 months to a year if you and this person is on the same page. If not, don’t settle or set yourself up to get hurt just to say you have someone.
Would you be cool with your girl working with a ex-girlfriend that she was in a serious relationship with?
I wouldn’t like it, but I have no choice but to be cool. It’s her job so it’s not much I can say.
When do you throw in the towel on trying to make a parent accept you? Would you be persistent and keep hoping they’ll come around?
I’ve learned you can’t make anyone accept you who isn’t willing to. When it comes to family you cut them off. Later on they will realize that they have pushed you away and come calling.