At least Donald Trump has been good for something. At the GenNext Awards, ‘Full Frontal’ star Ashley Nicole Black shared how being ‘honestly’ furious about the president has gotten her the biggest laughs.
“Anger, is the honest answer,” Full Frontal with Samantha Bee writer and comedian Ashley Nicole Black, 33, EXCLUSIVELY told HollywoodLife.com at the 2018 GenNext Awards when asked what inspired her writing. With Donald Trump, 72, in the White House and a seemingly endless string of scandals, Ashley has been able to transform what many people think is a national nightmare, into biting social commentary – that’s also hilarious. “A lot of times you see something or read something and you’re like, ‘how do I turn this feeling into comedy?’ And I think a lot of times being honest and saying the thing that people are afraid to say makes people laugh. A lot of times that’s just like, ‘what the f*ck is happening?!’ ”
Indeed. Ahead of the Sept. 13 event — in which Hollywood Life, She Runs It and Forbes joined together to honor young women paving the way in the entertainment, marketing and media industries — Ashley spoke about just how important it is to have a female voice not just in front of the camera, but behind the scenes in the writers’ room. “We did a piece recently on endometriosis,” Ashley told HollywoodLife.com, “and doctors have just not researched how to solve a lot of female reproductive issues, and they’re like, ‘well, just take birth control. It kind of fixes it.’ Well, it only kind of fixes it. And they’re trying to take away our right to birth control so there’s all these diseases there will be no cure for.”
“When has anyone ever talked about that on television, especially on a comedy show?” Ashley asked. “ Not only were there not women hosts [on late night TV], a male host could very easily tell that story, but somebody has to write it, and there were no women in the writers’ rooms, even when there were all male hosts! So, I think finally women are like, ‘Wow. Finally they’re talking about this, this thing that I just talk about with my girlfriends or this thing we’ve been whispering out at the kitchen table. There’s finally someone saying it on TV,’ which is what white men have had always, since the beginning of time.” Check out Ashley Nicole Black and Allana Harkin on the Hollywood Life podcast here.
Having a different – aka female – voice behind it has been one of the keys to Full Frontal with Samantha Bee‘s success, and Ashley spoke about how her roles on the show aim to inspire women, specifically women of color. “I feel like I used to live my life a little more afraid in the way I think a lot of women do,” she said. “Like, ‘oh you’re supposed to be like this, let me try to be it.’ Then one day I as just like, I’m just going to be myself and let the chips fall where they may and life got better. I feel like I’m being very much myself as loud as possible and hopefully that opens up a little bit of space for somebody else to be like, maybe I can do that.”
“I remember when I was a kid, I never saw a plus-sized woman on TV. I never saw a black woman on TV who wasn’t suffering,” she said. “So, if I just do what I want to do, which is have fun and make comedy, then maybe someone sees that and they’re like ‘oh, it’s a big black woman who’s not suffering. I can do that too!’ “
During the GenNext Awards panel, Ashley brought up how laughter might be the way to heal the political divide in America. “I remember I saw man who was like, ‘You know, I’m very conservative.’ That was the first thing he said, I was like oh no, cause I could just run my mouth. He goes, ‘As soon as you got on stage, I thought well that’s someone I’m not going to agree with.’ And he’s like, ‘And I don’t. But you funny girl.’ “
“He bought me a drink and I sat down with him and we proceeded to talk for a half an hour just as human beings. He asked a lot of questions because he had never had an opportunity to talk to someone who thought like me before,” Ashley said. “And the reason that he felt comfortable doing that was because I made him laugh, and there’s a connection when you make someone laugh. … So, it is a way to make a small, a joke is just a connection, a small connection with another person. And then from that connection anything can happen.”
“So, I hope, what I did with my work and what we’re doing with the show is there’s a lot of really huge scary things going on right now. We tend to want to yell at each other about them because they’re scary and that’s what people do when they’re coming from a place of fear. But, if we can laugh together, [then] we can get past that state of fear and get into a state where we can actually hear each other.”