Ashley Diana Morris wouldn’t have guessed she’d be the face of a major fashion label a year ago.
But the curvaceous blonde from Vancouver — via Toronto — has picked up the mantle as Guess’ lingerie and bikini model for 2013.
Her story is one that parallels models some of the biggest names of the industry, and she owes it all to the Dierks Bentley concert she attended in Vancouver.
At the time, she was an idle journalist bartending on the side, looking to hit the sports-writing beat. Still, her champagne tresses and radiant smile caught the eye of Guess photographer Odette Sugerman, who happened to also be at the show.
From there she travelled to California to take a tour of Guess’ headquarters with it’s co-chief executive officer, Paul Marciano.
UMM had the chance to chat with the successor to such names as Claudia Schiffer, Laetitia Casta and Kate Upton before her schedule filled up with shoots.
With your modelling career taking off so fast, how do you stay grounded?
“I have an amazing support system of friends and family who never, ever make me feel any different and everything that’s happened in the last year has been so surreal. I don’t think I even realized how wonderful it is. I’m just thankful every day. I don’t really think of myself any different than anyone else and nobody really makes me feel that way.”
Who do you look up for inspiration?
“I think the Claudia Schiffers and the Tyra Banks and even the Kate Uptons of today … it’s nice to have women out there with curves and it’s appreciated. I think the supermodel and the curvy girl are coming back, and have been for the last couple of years. It’s just real women who are intelligent and also beautiful. It’s just a wonderful mix to make for a great mentor — somebody to look up to.”
The supermodel is coming back?
“I think in the last five to seven years, you’ve seen for all the cosmetics campaigns, the covers, it’s mainly celebrities, and I think in the last year you’re seeing more of the supermodel come back. But the supermodel is turning into more of a celebrity.”
What’s your approach to the second coming of the supermodel?
“As a model and doing that for work, you have to have a lot more things going on in terms of charity work, exercise, relationships you have with friends and family because it can be a job where you’re getting your picture taken on a daily basis and it can potentially be an unhealthy industry if you’re too wrapped up in it.”
Now with Coco Rocha and only a handful of others, do you feel Canada is under-represented in the industry?
“Living in Vancouver, I walk around all the time and there’s this obscene amount of beautiful, fit women walking around downtown. I think there are a lot of beautiful women here as much as they should. It seems there’s a little bit more opportunity if you are from the States.”
You’re aiming for Sports Illustrated, and given their tradition of multiple models in exotic locales is there anyone you would like shoot with?
“I would love to work with, and I don’t know how much modelling she’s doing right now — she just had a baby — but I would love, love to work with Marisa Miller. I think she just seems to be a wonderful person and a good role model, and she’s just so fit, so grounded and beautiful.”
So being a model, do you ever problems keeping the guys at bay?
“I actually don’t really get hit on that often, and it’s funny because I remember seeing interviews on TV with these Sports Illustrated models, or Victoria’s Secret models and they would say they never get hit on and I would laugh because you think they’re being absolutely ridiculous. I really actually don’t get on that much.”
Do you think that’s a classic situation of the boys being afraid to ask the prettiest girl in the class out?
“I find you don’t get that person that comes up to you on the street or in the mall or at the coffee shop and gives you a nice complement, and asks you out. It just doesn’t happen anymore. Maybe if they’re interested in you, they Facebook you or ask a friend — or if they’re at the bar they have a few drinks in them — and they come up to you. You don’t really get somebody out of the blue.”