We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Benton and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ashley, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I think you have to take risks to keep growing as a person. Comfort, as wonderful as it may be, can be a little stifling. Risk and change are what push you to discover new things about yourself…new capabilities, new strengths, weaknesses, weird thoughts…the whole enchilada. Change sheds new light on how you perceive things. Solitude makes you sharper simply because if you don’t figure it out yourself, there’s no one else to figure it out for you and that’s damn effective. When I was in college, I started taking some International trips by myself and I loved how sharp I felt. There wasn’t room to be passive or unaware. More recently, I moved to New York in the Spring to open Barking Owl New York. I’ve lived in LA and California for so long and I have an amazing community there, so it was a big decision, but it felt like the kind of opportunity you just don’t pass up. Life’s short, it’s worth it to roll the dice every once in a while. And of course, it’s all about finding what risks make sense to you. I’m fairly afraid of heights and have zero inner ear equilibrium so you’ll hardly find me jumping off cliffs or planes or on those bananas roller coasters they keep coming up with. To each their own. 🙂

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve been with Barking Owl since 2015 and I’ve learned so, so much in that time. Kelly Bayett, our Creative Director and Co-Founder, is one of the best to learn from in so many aspects. We have an amazingly talented roster and an extremely close team that I love.

One of the best parts of working for a small company is that you have the opportunity to take new things on yourself. I was tasked with handling the first feature the company had ever worked on, Corazón, and more recently our first documentary, LFG.

Having a hand in that documentary meant a lot to us. It’s a cause that we care greatly about. You have to keep revealing that kind of blatant sexism & discrimination if it’s ever going to end. Sean & Andrea Fine are incredible documentary filmmakers and humans, and it was really motivating to see how they work to tell such impactful stories. They realized that the music and sound needed to be out of the box to match these powerful, dynamic players and they trusted us to provide.

As I’ve progressed in the company, I’ve come to realize that one of the most important things to me – maybe the most important thing – is remaining positive in what can be a really strenuous industry. Tight deadlines and occasional sleep deprivation aside, I’d rather be a source of positivity for those around me, coworkers, clients, or otherwise, than anything else.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m all for the divey digs in LA. There was never a weekend without Hinano – for beers, burgers, breakfast and anything in between. I think I may have been Hama Sushi’s number one customer, or at least consumed more of their dumplings & mints than anyone else in Venice. Our friends’ gallery in DTLA, Shit Art Club, is the real watering hole. I’ve met tons of really cool artists through that community that have a refreshingly playful take on art and artistry. And last but not least, best coffee shop where you can skim through the best vintage goods and records and leave with a plant and a latte – Sachi LA in Mar Vista.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
For me, friends and family make all the difference. I was raised by a single mom who worked incredibly hard to support us and her work ethic and drive were deeply engrained in me. Plus we had a lot of fun along the way. I’ve been lucky enough to collect a wonderfully beautiful & strange assortment of friends throughout my life. I think friends & family are the only way to stay sane these days. Everyone needs that loving, grounding support and source of laughter no matter what they do.

Instagram: @ben.aay

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ashley-benton-00807aa4/

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.