Ashley Smith Photographed by Angela Baltra

PHOTOS & INTERVIEW BY ANGELA BALTRA
Makeup: Andi Metro
Styling: The Academy of New York and Colin Locascio

 

Ashley Smith seems to have it all: she’s hot, out-going, and successful. Now, she is lending her experience and charisma to the newest wave of models and “nodels” through her New York agency, No Agency. Popping-up amongst a surge of non-model modelling agencies, Ashley Smith and Alex Tsebelis decided to establish their own agency, one that celebrates their talent as muses, as complex people with real interests, passions, and projects. Through prioritizing self-expression and honesty, No Agency challenges our notion of the model as merely a blank canvas. On the roster are some of our favourite artists and familiar faces, like Alexandra Marzella and Seashell Coker. The following is a quick Q+A with the former Playboy Miss November, and all-American sweetheart, Ashley Smith. 

Full name:
Ashley B. Smith

Age:
26

Where are you from?
Texas!

Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like?
I grew up in the dirt and grit of Texas and my childhood was great. I grew up your typical little scrappy kid. Making ends meet any way we could.

Where do you live now and why do you live there?
Right now I live in LA. I’m taking a break from NYC for a bit.

How has your background shaped who you are?
I can be very resourceful and creative. I think this comes from growing up in an environment where I wasn’t given everything I wanted. If I wanted skinny jeans I had to turn those fuckers inside out and sew them myself. If I wanted tickets to a rock show, I had to make friends with the bouncers. If I wanted things to be different, I had to be the change I wanted.

What does beauty mean to you?
Beauty to me is measured in strength and inner peace.

How can we challenge what society thinks of as beautiful?
Through people continuing to let down their hair and show who they really are. I’ve never liked magazines where the girls look perfectly retouched. I think social media has done a lot of things to challenge people’s idea of beauty.

Tell us about No Agency. What made you want to start a modelling agency? What were the first steps?
I wanted to start an agency that focused more on the girls individual goals and other talents. Connecting people with like-minded ideas. Rather than trying to mold the girls to fit the industry, we want to find the right places for the girls to fit as themselves. 

What responsibility comes with being in charge of an agency?
Above all, it’s making sure the girls at No Agency are treated fairly. Fighting for their rates and the normal stuff you would think. I believe agencies are the ones that are closed-minded about beauty. I like to think we represent a different breed of talent. We really try to show how each one of our talents has their own goals and ideas inside and outside of fashion.

Where are the best places to do scouting?
I don’t know. We represent people that inspire us. People we want to hang out with. I guess we just find them around us in life. It’s not rocket science. They’re all badasses, and I just wanted to help them be even more badass. I’m lucky to know every single girl we represent.

What has been the biggest difficulty of having an agency so far?
A lot of the barriers that we anticipated in the beginning turned out to not really exist. The feedback our girls got from established agencies about things like height and hip size are subjects that never even came up with clients. At the end of the day, coordinating all of the moving pieces in a small company like this one is always the greatest challenge.

What makes you want to sign someone to your agency?
I want to see if they have something interesting to say. Not with their mouths, but with their demeanour, their attitude, their style, etc.

Do you think alternative models/nodels is just another trend?
It’s not a trend. I don’t like even considering our girls models. They are more artist than model. There will always be a need for art, so there will always be a need for an artist.

What advice would you give to young people who want to work in the fashion industry?
Just be yourself and don’t let anyone tell you how you should or shouldn’t be. Falling in line and acting like everyone else doesn’t win too many awards.

What are your hopes & dreams for the future?
To live in a world where there is no hate or discrimination against others.