Toronto based Arts publicist Ashley Belmer joined the Drag Heals cast behind the scenes to coach them on how to craft their online presence and cultivate an audience.
Does the idea of drag as therapeutic or being healing resonate with you? Why?
Yes, definitely, as you can transform yourself into another person for a little while, a wonderful character you have created, perhaps more confident, more fun, more glamourous, more beautiful then you feel in real life…whatever you want them to be! You can get outside yourself, push past fear, and truly come alive.
What did you discover about yourself through the Drag Heals experience?
I had a wonderful experience on set with the cast and crew of Drag Heals, being someone who works from home, I don’t often get to be around people, so it was nice to get out and interact! The moment I walked on set I immediately felt the love and positive energy from the group. I also loved interacting with everyone regarding PR, the team was so interested and passionate about everything I had to say. Normally I do PR YouTube videos, so I never really get to feel my audience. I could have talked and workshopped with these lovely people for hours! I also had the incredible opportunity to see everyone perform, and I was amazed at the talent and rawness of it all. It brought me to tears. I was on a high after I left that set.
How would you describe your make-up and fashion aesthetic in drag?
I have honestly never tried drag, but if I did, I would go completely opposite of the very feminine “Ashley” for fun, I would dress up like a very posh gentlemen, with a cool hat.
What’s been most challenging about Drag Heals for you personally?
I was nervous, as I have never been on TV before, and I was worried I would stutter or say the wrong thing! But everyone was so kind and energetic, and loving, I immediately felt so at ease.
What’s brought you the most joy working with the Drag Heals cast?
Getting to meet everyone in the cast, even though it was brief, I felt such a beautiful connection with them. I actually still discuss it with my friends!
What has surprised you the most?
How stress-free the environment was, how supportive everyone was, how talented and creative the cast was. I was lucky enough to watch a full episode being taped before my segment, and I was in tears! Everyone was so confident and beautiful – I also learned so much about the drag community, and how crucial and important it is. How much we all need to support it.
What do you hope the TV audience gets out of watching Drag Heals?
I hope that the audience will feel like I did, the emotions I felt and the beauty of seeing people live out their dream on camera. I could see how much everyone loved to perform – and it was so familiar to me – as that is how I feel about singing. I saw myself in them, the love they had for performing.
Connect with Ashley Belmer below.
Twitter & Instagram – @ashleybelmer @brebelPR
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Arts publicist Ashley Belmer has been working in Publicity in both English and French in the non-profit community for almost 20 years. For five years, Ashley worked as the Marketing, and Publicity Director for Black Theatre Workshop in Montreal, and was also the Marketing Manager for Just For Laughs. In 2014, Ashley joined FLIP Publicity in Toronto as a senior level arts Publicist. Ashley was also the Senior Festival publicist at TIFF for two years. Ashley established her own PR and design agency B-Rebel Communications in 2017, and continues to work on numerous arts clients across Toronto. This includes Factory Theatre, Ross Petty Productions, TIFF, Luminato, Theatre Centre, DanceWorks, Coal Mine, Native Earth, Theatre Passe-Muraille, Next Stage, Dusk Dances, Hot Docs, Toronto Fringe Festival, and many more. Ashley has a Bachelor of Arts with Honours from Queen’s University in Theatre, a Post-Graduate degree in PR from Humber College, and an intensive advanced certificate in Graphic and Web Design from Humber College.