To most audiences, Ashiko Westguard’s transition into acting several years ago appeared to be a relatively natural progression considering that she had spent so much time in front of the camera as a model already. Her performances in the series “Painkiller Jane” and “Kaya,” and the feature film “A Dark Matter" speak leagues to her ability to embody intensely layered characters and effortlessly draw in the audience.
Despite the ease with which she graces the silver screen, in reality Westguard had to make extra efforts to not only forget many of the things that she learned to naturally do as a model, but also to prove the depth of her talent to the many skeptics that at first glance, judged her to be just another pretty face.
While she is well-known for her acting prowess throughout the industry today, Westguard recalls, “For me the transition wasn’t very easy. I think I had to earn respect from casting directors and really earn my place and show them I was not just a pretty face, but a talented one. I grew so much from studying and that really helped me. Studying with renowned Canadian teacher David Rotenberg at Professional Actors Lab really gave me a nice footing, along with Andrew McIlroy in Vancouver.”
Westguard, who has had continued success as a model for the last decade, can be seen in commercials for Axe Deodorant, Old Spice, Skechers, Honda, Niko, Cafe Royal and Sony, as well as on the covers of Women Magazine, Essentials, Femina, Women’s Fitness, Verve Magazine and other well-known publications.
As the face of national ad campaigns for Revlon, Garnier, L’Oreal, Dita Von Teese, Coca Cola, Mr. Clean, Huggies and more, Westguard has proven to the masses that she’s a master when it comes to the art of expressing different emotions and characters in photographs.
While her confidence and charisma, two qualities needed for any model to reach the rare level of success that Westguard has, have undoubtedly helped her in her acting career as well, there were some aspects of modeling that she had to let go of in order to fully embody her characters on screen.
She explains, “I was an actress as a child but the more I modeled the more aware I became of the outer appearance and physical state, it was hard to be in character…Modeling makes you so aware of your body, but as an actor you want to be natural and not pose.”
Through dedication and constant study, Westguard was able to develop her skills as an actress and she has gone on to play critical characters in a number of projects that have proven her to be a dynamic and diversely talented performer.
“I have played everything from a congresswomen to a vampire,” admits Westguard.
She explains, “Eve in the Canadian feature film ‘A Dark Matter’ was definitely a role that pushed me to grow and made me rise up to the challenge. I was coached by David Rotenberg and learned a lot from the other cast members as well. I worked hard on getting to the core of my character. I learned so much from that project and role.”
Directed by James Naylor “A Dark Matter” is a sci-fi thriller that is so deeply twisted that as a viewer it’s challenging not to question how much we know about our reality after watching the film. The film follows Angus, an artist who finds himself traversing alternate dimensions in search of his missing girlfriend. The deeper he goes the more out of touch with reality he becomes and Westguard’s character Eve serves as the main proponent behind the events within Angus’ traumatic struggle to figure out where he stands in the world.
Anyone who has seen “A Dark Matter” would be hard pressed to think of Westguard as anything but a phenomenal actress. Her riveting and multi-layered performance as Eve endowed the film with a level of intensity that makes it impossible to peel your eyes away from the screen for the simple fact that we want to know what wild trick her character will come up with next.
Besides the inherent challenges that come with making the transition from modeling to acting in terms of technique, there’s an unfortunate backlash that comes along with first becoming known for one’s beauty in the eyes of the public.
Westguard admits, “I feel like I had to and still have to work harder to show people that I’m talented. I think it’s so silly that others judge… I try not to let that get to me. I work hard and I study so I feel like I have a solid foundation to hold my own.”
Although having a successful modeling career first has meant that Ashiko Westguard has had to work even harder to prove her talent as an actress, the impressive collection of work that she’s done to date makes it readily apparent that she’s up for the challenge.