Ashley Blaine Featherson on HBCU love: “Howard changed my life”

Ashley Blaine Featherson thegrio
Ashley Blaine Featherson attends the premier of the Netflix Original Series "Dear White People" Volume 3 at Regal LA Live on August 01, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Netflix)

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Ashley Blaine Featherson is one of those women whose energy lights up the room before she even walks in. She’s best known for playing Joelle Brooks, in Netflix’s Dear White People, but it turns out the actress is even more amazing than her super cool character.

We caught up with the beautiful, brown-skinned girl to find out how she identifies with her onscreen persona and how she stays sane while navigating Hollywood.

“What I love most about her is that she’s complex but she’s a really good friend and the tough part about that is that she’s trying to figure out how to make herself a priority,” Featherson explains. “Joelle is super cool. She’s talented, she sings, she’s at the top of her class. Joelle is everything.”

We also got the lowdown on what it takes to maintain all of her characters incredible hairstyles, as she’s always rocking a fresh set of braids.

Featherson grew up in a predominately white community and admits that choosing an HBCU had a lot to do with cultivating her true self.

“I’ve had parents who have always celebrated my beauty,” she says. “Getting to Howard, I remember being like, ‘WOW!'”

“Going to Howard changed my life,” she continued. “At Howard you get everything. Not only are we beautiful, but everybody’s smart…It was so inspiring to me.”

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The actress also makes her mental health a priority and revealed that she has been going to therapy for six years.

“I implore everybody to go to therapy, especially Black people,” she says. “Everything on the surface may seem fine but the truth is, we are all dealing with ancestral trauma. Just the sheer weight of how we got here is traumatic.”

Dear White People is available on Netflix now.

Check out our full interview above.