Ashley Dulaney. Photo Credit: Stephanie Girard

Exclusive Interview with Ashley Dulaney of Lifetime’s Sister Wife Murder

Hello, Ashley Dulaney! She stars as Margo in Lifetime’s Sister Wife Murder which premieres on July 13.

Readers, here’s a quick plot description since we go into detail about the movie: Sister Wife Murder centers on Chloe (Dia Nash), who attends church for the first time and is immediately drawn to the pastor, Caleb (Matthew Daddario). She falls in love with him, only to discover that he is married — to two women, Anna (Ashley Williams) and Margo (Ashley Dulaney). She’s nonetheless thrilled when he proposes, but soon comes to experience his controlling behavior. When one of the other wives mysteriously disappears, Chloe fears that she may be next. 

Back in Tupelo, Mississippi, Ashley Dulaney’s love for the arts began to flourish in her early years. She discovered a deep sense of happiness through performing from a very young age. Starting her acting journey in preschool with a memorable role as a caterpillar in a school production, she was inspired by this initial experience to fully dedicate herself to following her passion for acting.

You’ll recognize Ashley from FX’s Justified, Scandal, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and of course as the evil ‘Rebecca’ in Lifetime’s The House Sitter, just to name a few. Let’s find out what Ashley Dulaney has to tell us!

NYCastings-Ashley-Dulaney-3Tell us about your audition and any call backs for Sister Wife Murder.

My audition for Margo was one I will never forget. We didn’t get access to the script for the first round, just the audition sides. The sides that casting pulled from is one of the hardest scenes for my character. In it you see Margo and Chloe right after something has happened and Chloe is being punished. When I saw Margo in my head I saw her just very light and good but I knew she had to have some sort of detachment from reality to be in this situation, as many victims of abusive relationships come to have. So as an actor that was the first thing I connected on when I was bringing Margo to life. I wanted her genuine kindness and connection with Chloe to come through the second you saw her on camera so I really focused on that and that vision really aligned with what Manu Boyer, our director, saw as well. That really informed how I dressed for Margo. In my first audition I wore a really sweet pink dress which I called a “perfect Margo dress” but the funny thing is I actually dressed very inappropriately.  I wasn’t given the script so I didn’t know the details of how clothing would come majorly into play and it’s funny because, had we been in the room, it might have made my read come out differently since my dress was short. Knowing Manu he would have still been focused on the read more than anything but I just remember trying to get that dress approved to use in the movie and it was only then that I realized how wrong it was. 

I got a callback with Manu and casting a week or so after I sent in my tape and it was the same scene I auditioned with, with a few variations, and I was given access to the script before the callback. I fell so in love with Margo and I think I really brought that love into the callback. Manu is incredibly supportive and loving to his actors so It was just a wonderful Zoom callback where we talked about Margo and who she was and then we worked the scene. I got the offer a few days later. I actually had red hair when I was cast and when I got the offer I had to agree to go back to blonde. It’s so funny looking back because that was the absolute right choice for Margo. 

Give us some insight into your character. How is your character set apart from the other wife played by Ashley Williams? Did you do any research for the role? If yes, what?

Ashley Williams is a BRILLIANT actor. I would describe our characters as literally polar opposite. The character of Anna is strict and although Margo follows all the rules she is naturally a very different vibration than Anna. There is a natural warmth to Margo and there is a natural structure to Anna. 

I have someone in my life that unfortunately suffered from an abusive relationship. So my research was very personal. I found in so many scenes I could feel what the person I love might have felt and that the love and desire to protect your child really became something I used for my character and her arch in the project. 

You grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi, graduated from Ole Miss with a BFA in acting. and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. How old were you when you made the move? Did you move with friends and family or by yourself? Was it scary? Where’d you live and with whom? What types of odd jobs did you hold down? Share a story about the worst non-acting job you ever had.

I did! I moved right after graduation. I was in every way a baby as I look back on it, so in that way much like how children aren’t scared to jump off something high, I felt no fear in moving. I moved in with a good friend from college and we shared a studio in Korea-town and I loved it. We hit the ground running and I did every job I could. I started off doing extra work because I wanted to see a set. I wanted to watch people work and wanted to see what life would be like as an actor. One of my jobs in high school and college was retail so I got a job at Forever 21 for the holiday season and I remember I was terrible at it. I was constantly hiding trying to sleep and take naps in random places and let’s just say I wasn’t asked back after the holiday rush. I drove for Lyft. I helped out a few friends in real estate where I would sign in guests at open houses for cash. I did a little bit of everything until I started booking jobs. 

You knew you were destined to act since you were a little kid. What drove you to that conclusion? Did anyone try to stop you along the way?

I never heard that. Not once was I ever told “Are you sure? But it’s so hard. But it’s not a real job.” Those things have never been said to me and if someone did, I GENUINELY don’t remember any of it. My family has always been incredibly supportive and told me to go for it and if anyone can do it, it’s you. I never heard a moment of someone telling me “Wait, let’s do something practical”.

I think it’s so important how we talk to people. I don’t think people sometimes realize the power of words. Just like water made the Grand Canyon, doubt can crush a creative before they find their sea legs. I was raised hearing “go for it” and I did, I don’t know what would have happened if I had been raised to hear constant fear. 

As far as what drove me to the conclusion to be an actor, well honestly I have been asked that al ot lately and I don’t have an answer. I am quick with lines. I am really really strong with memorizing. So I think, when I was very youhg, act back with the TV or mimic the actors was just part of who I was from such a young age that it just seemed to fit. I remember wanting to be so many things. It was oh I love this and this AND this and wait I can be all of those things as an actor. But thinking back it’s just insane because I had no game plan for anything. I just remember always KNOWING I would move to California and be an actor.   

NYCastings-Ashley-Dulaney-2You’re married to Doctor John Roberts. How’d you meet? A lot of times we see actors whose partners are also in some type of entertainment business, because they understand about the long hours and traveling for shoots. What type, if any, discussion did you have with John about how you may not see him for days or weeks on end? Is it hard to manage family life with your acting career?

It makes me smile so big when I see his name. It’s very funny though to see the Doctor — he is indeed a doctor but he is so far from the guy that would ever state that. But I think the answer is in that very word. Doctor. He isn’t just a physician — he specializes in disaster relief — so when anything is going on in the world John, with his organization IMC, is probed on the scene. He was in Ukraine for 60 minutes, he just returned from Lebanon, Egypt and South Sudan. 

So as you can see he is just as passionate about his job as I am about mine and for me that was a key factor in finding my partner. I can’t speak for all creatives but for me my work was what I was focused on. I was really never the girl who was thinking about her wedding or being a wife. It was just acting. But the coolest thing happened one day at a bar. I met a super handsome dude and I hated him at first sight. To be totally honest I thought he was a douche but news flash — I was actually the problem. I judged him before I got to know him and I am so eternally grateful that he didn’t let me get away with that. We were friends for years and dated briefly then back to friends for two years until the timing was honestly just very right for both of us. We dated for a year very seriously and then he was slated to go to North Carolina for his fellowship and my career was going very, very well. I was finally booking leads and recurring roles so we decided I would stay in LA and he would go to North Carolina for two years and we would go long distance.

I think learning this skill was key for us. We learned how to communicate and connect when we aren’t in front of each other. We developed rules on time and stayed connected. As you said we may go weeks or months not seeing each other so this period in our life showed us how to handle the rest of our lives together. So we never really had to have one conversation. It’s just we are both incredibly supportive of each other and since both of us are very passionate about what we do we protect that and help each other achieve all we both want while keeping our relationship front and center. 

Photo Credit: Stephanie Girard
Photo Credit: Stephanie Girard

Tell us about your outdoor activities, such as hiking, and give us an overview of what aerial yoga is.

I go hiking almost daily. Hiking is really my therapy in a lot of ways. Yoga has made me the strongest I have ever been. I used to do a lot of aerial work but I now am way more drawn to hot yoga and core power and really building strength in my body. I think there is a very powerful tool in appreciation for what your body can do for you. Yoga reminds me of how strong my body is and how it shows up for me daily. Hiking is a different part of my gratitude and I live my life trying to be as grateful as possible for each moment. 

Besides Ole Miss, have you taken any formal acting lessons? Do you have an acting coach? Do you follow any particular type of acting method?

Oh yes, of course. I graduated from UCB. That was journey for me :) I love taking classes with casting professionals. I feel they are the most beneficial for actors as they understand how to communicate with actors and they also see what mistakes we make. I love Matthew Barry’s scene study class. He is a gem of a human and loves actors so much. 

What is your strategy for learning lines?

Water. I’m not joking. Like I said, I memorize very quickly. I don’t know how but if I can get in a bath I instantly learn whatever is in front of me. I also get a very clear vision of what I wanna do with characters when I’m in a bath or shower. Something about water, man. 

At what point in your career were you able to join the SAG-AFTRA union? How’d you feel when that day came? What benefits does the union offer?

This is actually a story very dear to me. One of my first big opportunities was that I got to do a general audition with Casting Director Mark Teschner for General Hospital maybe five months after I got to LA. At the time, SAG-AFTRA hadn’t merged and one of my closest friends lent me the money to join so that at my general, I could proudly have AFTRA on my resume. This meant so much to me because this friend also wanted to be an actor and as sad as it is to say this was truly the first real example I had in my life of someone going after the same dream as me who genuinely wanted to help me and support me. I remember running with her to make it to AFTRA before they closed for the day.

I became SAG-E after one of my best friends and I wrote a web series together. I had just booked a national with Joan Rivers and was a “must join” when the two unions merged and I was automatically grandfathered into SAG and it was honestly just very divine timing in my eyes and those memories mean so much to me. 

I am so very proud to be part of SAG-AFTRA. They protect artists and fight for us. After the most recent strike, I became more involved and I am trying to educate myself more and more with each new contract renewal. I feel so lucky to be part of a community that is always fighting to do better for artists. I mean, I have personally watched the union show up and protect me, fight for me, my health insurance is with them. I mean the list goes on and on about the benefits of having the Union as an artist. 

NYCastings-Ashley-Dulaney-1Anything else you’d like to say? Charities?

Ahhhh! Charities! You should have never asked me that, haha! I could go on and on about cats. My husband and I have three. I love them so much and I genuinely wake up so happy with my husband and all three cats in our bed. 

I work with a lot of rescues to get cats out of very high kill shelters. There’s one that just ruins my day daily. I feel like animals are in every way the best of us so any little thing I can do for them, I want to. My dream one day is to end kill shelters and also to have a rescue of my own.

Ashley Dulaney’s Instagram

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