When I first reached out to Ashley for an interview, she was in the middle of an all-day stream for the August Twitch Rivals Fortnite Showdown, and it was a couple days before we could find a convenient time to talk. I completely understood, of course — after all, when you’re a Twitch streamer, the phrase “time is money” takes on a whole new meaning.
But when we finally sat down to chat, the conversation flowed easily. Not only is Ashley friendly and personable — she is an effective communicator, skilled at articulating her thoughts and feelings in a natural way.
Ashley attributes this eloquence to her years as a streamer and public figure. “Streaming has actually helped me in a lot of positive ways,” said Ashley. “I feel like I was better in my [college] speech classes because of streaming, and I was better at streaming because of my speech classes.”
Though she doesn’t bat an eye while streaming in front of hundreds of viewers, Ashley self-identifies as an introvert. “To me, being introverted is where you find your energy, so I do spend time off-stream sometimes being alone, watching Netflix, doing whatever — that’s where I get my energy to stream,” said Ashley. “It’s an interesting dynamic.”
That’s not to say that she doesn’t genuinely love gaming. Growing up in a family of video game fans, Ashley has been an avid gamer ever since the first time she picked up the controller to play Sonic the Hedgehog.
“I was the youngest sibling of four, so I spent a lot of time with my older brothers. I looked up to them a lot, and really wanted to spend a lot of time with them, so I would play sports with them — like, I learned how to throw a football properly,” recalled Ashley. “I also watched them play lots of Call of Duty and Halo, and I would play with them — when they let me — and so I started getting pretty good, and I enjoyed the competitive aspect.”
Ashley played video games with her brothers, her father, and her sister — a Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon enthusiast — throughout her time in secondary school. “I had this mindset that being a gamer was something that I shouldn’t be super open about, because it was nerdy and it made me different, but that’s why you should be more open about it — because it makes you different,” said Ashley, laughing. “I kind of wish that I was a little bit more forthcoming about how nerdy I actually was in junior high and high school.”
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After getting her start as a streamer towards the end of high school, Ashley enrolled in college, where she was surprised by her peers’ enthusiasm about her streaming and gaming career. During her first three years of streaming, she accrued a total of 5,000 followers — “which I feel is pretty standard for anyone who would’ve streamed that amount and put in a similar amount of effort” — before achieving breakout success with the release of Fortnite: Battle Royale.
“If it weren’t for those first three years of me streaming and putting in a lot of hours, sacrificing a lot, I wouldn’t be the streamer I am today,” said Ashley. “I learned a lot about how to stream: what works, what doesn’t work, what my brand is.”
After putting in countless hours of work to get where she is today, Ashley is understandably proud of her accomplishments, and quick to correct anyone who tries to downplay the efforts behind her success. “My advice for anyone, women or girls who are looking to get into streaming or gaming, is to not let anyone discredit any success that you have just because of your gender.”
After the release of Fortnite, Ashley decided to take a break from college in order to focus on her streaming career. “I moved back near my family, went to different gaming events, met a lot of awesome streamers who turned into some really good friends of mine.”
With all the excitement surrounding her newfound Fortnite fame, Ashley planned to focus on herself while expanding her brand. But she didn’t anticipate that the game that catapulted her to Twitch stardom would also draw her closer to her future boyfriend, Team Liquid Fortnite pro Jake “Poach” Brumleve. “He was just the person to watch at the time, the best Fortnite solo player,” said Ashley. “Everyone would watch him, including me.”
Ashley became a regular viewer on Poach’s channel, messaging him from time to time to ask questions about gameplay and strategy. “The more time I actually spent in his stream, the more I noticed how different he was from every other guy,” said Ashley. “I could tell how humble he was, even from being so good at the game.” When they met at TwitchCon, they found that their friendship worked just as well in person, and they soon became a couple.
Though she’s forged a unique brand after years of streaming, Ashley had no qualms with naming other streamers who she considered to be her greatest inspirations or mentors. Other female streamers such as KittyPlays, Pokimane, Valkyrae, and Alexia Raye are personal sources of inspiration for Ashley: “I really just look up to how they act on stream and carry themselves as women of gaming.”
Ashley is also motivated to match the generosity and entertainment value of streamers such as CouRage, DrLupo, Jordan Fisher, and Ninja. “I’ve had the pleasure of being able to meet the majority of them,” said the streamer. “They’re so welcoming and so kind to me as a fellow streamer — it makes being a part of Twitch something that I really, really enjoy.”
At the end of the day, Ashley’s streaming success is built on a foundation of networking, good timing, gaming skill, and years upon years of diligent labor. Whether she continues to stream or finds herself moving into another career down the line, it’s clear that her passion for gaming is genuine — especially her enthusiasm towards her favorite game, Minecraft. “I love Fortnite, but Minecraft is always going to have my heart,” said Ashley.
Before signing off, I asked Ashley if she had any last words of advice for other streamers—particularly girls—trying to get into the scene.
“If I could give any other advice, it would be to be authentic. Don’t feel like you need to be someone else for people to like you, because there’s always going to be a viewer for every streamer and a streamer for every viewer,” said Ashley. “You will find people who find you entertaining and want to support you; you don’t really need to act like anyone except for yourself.”
This article was written by Alexander Lee, an esports journalist, lifelong Nintendo fan, and proud cat dad. Follow him on Twitter @alexleewastaken, and check out more of his work on his website www.alexlee.work.