So let’s get real: Having a “far-fetched” dream job doesn’t always happen, especially after kids come into the picture. But that’s never been an option for our NJMOMpreneur of the week, Ashley Hearon-Smith. In fact, the producer and actor has been able to parlay all the good, the bad and the ugly of mom life into a dream gig—co-hosting the hilarious (and often irreverent) podcast Scary Mommy Speaks. When she’s not interviewing celebs about how they get their picky kids to eat or lamenting about the dreaded mom guilt, she’s producing her original insta-series, HudsonCounty60. We sat down with her to chat about how these dream jobs fulfill her, what crafting does for her psyche and the Jersey City restaurants that she can’t stop talking about.
Producer & Co-Host of Scary Mommy Speaks & NJMOMpreneur Ashley Hearon-Smith
NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?
Ashley: Let’s start by saying, I’m all over the place. I host and produce HudsonCounty60, an Instagram video docuseries that highlights different businesses, people and events in and around Hudson County in 60 seconds or less. I’m also the co-host of Scary Mommy’s new podcast, Scary Mommy Speaks, as well as an actor and freelance producer. I’ve got lots of hands in lots of pots.
The benefit of being all over the place is that I look at things from so many different perspectives. I knew with HudsonCounty60 that there was no shortage of local blogs, but we focus on one thing, and that is truly highlighting a business or someone’s story in a fun and engaging way. We do it short, sweet and succinctly, all while trying to honor the true essence of what the business does. HudsonCounty60 and my TV background have really fine-tuned my eye, enhanced my creativity and have helped me find a fun way to make content that people actually enjoy watching!
Baby steps. Life is short, so I think it’s important to do what feeds your soul. When it all becomes too large and scary, just make a list and tackle baby steps!” – NJMOMpreneur Ashley Hearon-Smith
NJMOM: What inspired you to get into your line of work?
Ashley: I truly grew up loving the entertainment world, thanks mostly to my dad. MTV was on in my house constantly and we watched Entertainment Tonight every night. I always thought that that world looked so glamorous. I dreamed of being Julia Roberts or Mary Hart. I’ve been a performer my whole life, as well as a creator, so there was no way I was going to do something else.
NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
Ashley: I love so much of what I do! Firstly, I create content I actually want to watch and listen to, and I really do try to stay objective! On a local level, HudsonCounty60 has introduced me to so many incredible business owners and artists. I love learning about people’s stories, passions, and why they took the huge risk they took by starting their own business.
Scary Mommy has not only allowed me to have conversations with celebrities (which is so fun), but it’s forced me to hone in on my hosting skills and really embrace motherhood on levels I had previously been a little resistant to! I get to work with moms, talk about mom dilemmas, and I’ve really learned that parenthood is the most universal and unifying thing.
NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
Ashley: I started my career at Martha: The Martha Stewart Show and The Wendy Williams Show. After 5 years in live daytime television, I left to pursue acting professionally and quickly realized I had a unique skill set that allowed me to create my own work. Since then I have produced and starred in a short run of an off-Broadway show, a few web series’, HudsonCounty60, and produced so much more work!
NJMOM: What are you most proud of in your career?
Ashley: I am most proud of the fact that I’ve taken the initiative in my career. In my field, and specifically the performing part, it’s very easy to just keep waiting around for the dream until you eventually, and understandably, get so frustrated you move on, or go back to school for something different. I’ve also found that it’s pretty common to give up on your “far fetched” dream after motherhood in almost every industry – but I’ve kept it going, and it’s actually led to the most exciting job I’ve had yet.
NJMOM: What is something few people know about you?
Ashley: I’m a big-time crafter. Some people meditate, others workout, but I craft. Lately, I’ve been dreaming of having a crafting and wine party because I’m so overwhelmed by everyday life that I haven’t really had the time to craft and just let loose. I feel like a party is a perfect way to force myself to chill out, socialize and enjoy the process.
NJMOM: What can we expect from you next year – personally and professionally?
Ashley: Oh boy, if I only knew! I honestly think about this almost every night before bed. The blessing (and curse) of being in this industry is that you never know what’s going to come. I’m always working towards and pushing for more. In the past almost two years I have worked on three different shows, so a lot can change very quickly. But if you have any suggestions, send them my way!
NJMOM: What charitable cause are you most passionate about?
Ashley: I’m not sure that it’s a charitable cause, but I’ve been making very small swaps in my everyday life to move towards being more sustainable. I’ve eliminated a lot of the everyday single-use things we use in our house, but I am working towards finding solutions to be more package-free and am creeping my way towards a pescatarian diet.
Additionally, I’m very passionate about gun control. I try to donate some time to help Moms Demand Action. We need stricter gun control in our country, and we need to protect our children, our community and ourselves. If you think you don’t have another ounce of energy for anything else, don’t underestimate how easy it is to contact our lawmakers to demand change.
NJMOM: Who is your role model? Why?
Ashley: Talking about my role model is not only the easiest thing to do, but also my favorite: my mom is my role model. Anyone who knows me or listens to Scary Mommy Speaks, knows that my mom is not only my best friend, but also the most inspiring person to me. She has faced adversity head-on in every way, and come out on the other end a better person. She’s amazed me with her compassion, and also with her boundaries. And most importantly, she’s never let a perceived disadvantage stop her from anything she’s wanted to do.
NJMOM: What is the best piece of advice your mom (or parent/role model) ever gave to you?
Ashley: “Growth happens outside of your comfort zone,” and isn’t it true?
NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by? Why is this quote so important to you?
I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”- Maya Angelou
I’ve always been wildly drawn to badass women that change the world around them, and don’t allow themselves to be a victim of circumstance (thanks, Mom!), and Dr. Maya Angelou is pretty much the epitome of that. I’ve been a fan of hers since the eighth grade, and this is one of my all-time favorite quotes. It’s been one that I’ve carried with me for years.
NJMOM: Where do you reside and vacation in New Jersey?
Ashley: I live in Union City and grew up in Weehawken/Hoboken, so I really didn’t go far. I absolutely love my community—it’s diverse, culturally rich and thriving. For vacation, my husband and I always love going to Atlantic City, but right now I’m itching to do a weekend away in Asbury Park. I haven’t been since I was a little girl, and it seems like a totally different place now.
NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey with your family?
Ashley: My son is just getting to the age where he can actually take in what we’re doing and where we are, so I’m really looking forward to visiting kid-centered places. On my list is Liberty Science Center, Field Station: Dinosaurs, Diggerland and the Turtle Back Zoo!
NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?
Ashley: Well, I’ll tell you, nothing forces you to hold a mirror up to yourself, or take a good look at the world around you quite like kids. Aside from just loving my son, Sebastian, with all of my heart and thinking he’s the most special kid around, I want to be the best person I can be because of him. I want to change the world and fight every good fight so he can live the most amazing life possible.
NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
Ashley: You’ll have to forgive me, as I’m a poor excuse of a Jersey Girl, and rarely leave Hudson County. It’s no secret that I love Corto and Low Fi in Jersey City, and Los Charritos in Weekhawken. My friend Cait Kolibas owns Bum Pilates in Hoboken, which is the only place I’ll work out at lately (which rarely happens… shhh). I can’t forget about Sweet Dani B in Asbury Park—Dani and I go way back to our Martha Days and she did our cake topper and favors for our wedding.
NJMOM: What advice might you have for a fellow NJMOMpreneur who is just starting out?
Ashley: Baby steps. Life is short, so I think it’s important to do what feeds your soul. When it all becomes too large and scary, just make a list and tackle baby steps!