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Ashley Gray of 'Harlem Heights:' 'I Don't Want People Thinking I'm a Drama Queen'

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Ashlie Grey's lives for the drama—but doesn't any burgeoning actress? Moonlighting as a bartender at one of Harlem's hottest nightclubs, the party girl stays on her grind daily, working with her acting coach and attending auditions in hopes of getting her big break. ESSENCE.com caught up with the budding starlet to talk about living in the spotlight, avoiding the drama queen label and her pursuit of happiness.

ESSENCE.COM: So how does it feel to suddenly be famous?
ASHLIE GRAY:
(Laughs.) Well, it's not about that. I did this show because not only did it give me an opportunity to work with my friends but a chance for us to represent young Black professionals who are educated and share common interests. It's also allowed me to learn who Ashlie is. It's important that you be true to yourself and this show has made me see myself as a person, a maturing adult and to learn what I can to be more successful.

ESSENCE.COM: Unlike the rest of the cast you work in a club environment. How mindful were you about your actions?
GRAY:
I am very professional so I was very mindful of how I wanted to be portrayed. Bartending is my side hustle to pay the bills because it's not cheap to live in New York, and I need a job that's flexible so that I can go on auditions and work with my coach every day. I work three days a week, but my heart is acting, so the focus is more on my grind.

ESSENCE.COM: As an actress will we see any high drama from Ms. Ashlie?
GRAY:
I'm an actress so I'm taking on different characters and personalities, so in terms of being over the top I had to hold that together. I don't want people thinking, "Oh this girl is too dramatic!"

ESSENCE.COM: (Laughs.) Drama queens make for excellent ratings. What about romance?
GRAY:
I have a slight romance, but nothing serious. I'm single and ready to mingle (laughs). I'm at that point in my life I might be trying to find Mr. Right or at least a great potential.

ESSENCE.COM: What do you hope sharing a sneak peek of your life will offer?
GRAY:
I really want people to get an idea of how much hard work it takes to be an actress. Yes, some people had the opportunity to fall into it. Luckily, I've had people in my life who have given me the opportunity to follow my dreams which makes me happy. It's all about staying consistent and on your grind. It's not something you can just wake up and do; it has to be your passion. Also, I want people to watch this show and know that it's okay to go to college and get an education.

Check out "Harlem Heights" tonight on BET at 10 P.M. PT/ET

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