Ashley Leggat - Making a Difference in Kids' Lives.

by Kees Boer

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The Disney Channel is perhaps one of the most watched television channels in the United States. One of Disney's most watched programs is the show: "Life with Derek." It's a modern day version of the old Brady Bunch, except that it primarily focuses on the two teenagers, Derek and Casey and how their differences and how they get along with each other. I had the privilege of interviewing Ashley Leggat, who plays the lead character of Casey McDonald, the likable teenage girl, who needs to put up with her 'new' sloppy brother.

Ashley's last name is Leggat, pronounced: "Leg It," but then one word. Because she is from Canada, I thought it must be a French last name, but they have since found out that the name 'Leggat' is English only. The Irish and Scottish comes from Ashley's mom's background.
Ashley is fun to talk with, very down to earth and laid back. We chitchatted some about her cats: Furbee, Baby, and Punk, whom she loves dearly. She has a heart of gold and is a Christian, who tries to attend church every Sunday. We spoke about how her relationship with her four brothers has changed over time. Ashley has four older brothers, Rob, Brett, Todd and Bram. "When we were growing up we used to fight like most kids do. Now that we are all older we get along really well. In fact, my whole family is really close. We all support each other and are proud of each other's accomplishments. My brothers are all very athletic and excelled at both ice and inline hockey. They visit my sets as often as they can and tease me that they should be my bodyguards. My one brother is really good at running my MYSpace (www.myspace.com/ashleyleggatonline) with me. Bram does an amazing job at that."

Ashley spoke about how she got started in the business. "I danced my whole life. I actually dance in some upcoming episodes of Life with Derek, which I really love doing. I sing, I started in theater. Who knows maybe after a little break, I might head back to theater for a little bit."

She loves doing the Life With Derek show. "I just like coming to work and not feeling like I'm at work. It's a passion of mine. It's nice to get to do a job you love and go to work with your best friends everyday. It's just like a big family and there are no egos. No one is pulling a big diva act. You can tell in the product of the show that we just all get along so well! I've been so lucky. And especially, on joining Life with Derek three years ago, I couldn't have asked for a more amazing production team. I love it there. I love every person, and I've never had a bad day on the set. Mike and I are brother and sister pretty much and Jordan plays my little sister. It's just like my real family."

She spoke how she developed the character of Casey. "It starts in the audition room. You're given this guideline, maybe three sentences of the character. And each single person, who comes brings a different element to the character and the producers enjoy what they see and you start to develop the character more and you work with the producers. With every character, I do, I bring an aspect of myself into it. It's how I take things on. I developed the character now. Casey is me, because I'm pretty much playing her more than I'm playing myself. Technically, I spent from 6 in the morning till 8 at night being Casey. I'm her a lot more than I'm me. So, I find myself saying and doing things that I would do on the show. I'm kind of creeped out by it. It's strange! Of course, when I'm off the show for two weeks, I get to be myself a lot more. You get to go back to reality more. You're living in a dream world, really. Every day, you're playing a different person. You find sometimes, when you head home that you stay in character."

If you really want to see the fun side of Ashley, you might enjoy visiting her MySpace Account (www.myspace.com/ashleyleggatonline). She has some funny videos of her. One of them is a little skit that she plays where she encounters a very nasty rude talent agent. The talent agent is played by her brother's friend who is with a production company called Snatch TV. They do a lot of skits and asked her to help out.

It's no surprise that Ashley is involved in various charities. "I'd like to get involved with everything I can, and whenever I have spare time, I'd like to get involved with whatever cause it is. Sometimes I visit McMaster hospital in Hamilton, Ontario, where I'm from and I see the kids there. I was just at an event at a hospital a week ago. And also, I'm big on animals. I donate to the SPCA. I'm always heading over there and I love the cats! I have to go over there and play with them regularly. On Sunday, I'm heading across Canada for an anti-bullying tour with Mike. (Her costar in Life with Derek) It's for the bullying awareness week. We're going to go across Canada with Family Channel and raise some awareness."

As it stands right now, Ashley is planning on continuing to act for the rest of her life. At the same time, she realizes that the life of an actor/actress is not the most predictable life, one could live, so she is also pursuing some on line courses. "Whenever I have time off, there is a University called Athabaska University, which you can do courses on line, which are transferable to Universities if I ever physically want to go to a University. So I can get courses along the way and continue to act. At least I have something to fall back on, if I change my mind."

Ashley was wonderful to talk with. She really wants to be there to help others, whether it'd be through her show, or through her visits to the hospital, or just encouraging kids not to bully each other. "The main thing is that when you're an actor, you have the power and position to help out people. A lot of people figure that once they're an actor, they are just going to help themselves. I never want to be looked at as somebody who would ever do that. I want to always be sharing and helping everybody else around me. So, I hope to make a difference in a lot of kids' lives."

For more information on Ashley Leggat, please visit: www.myspace.com/ashleyleggatonline