Favorite outfit? An immense amount of energy went into coordinating the outfits for my a cappella group. I would rummage the Forever 21 site for dresses to buy in bulk. There was a brown maxi that I was particularly fond of.
What were your bullying experiences? Mine were mostly in middle school. People would bully me for trying to be “Miss Perfect.” So I started to answer questions wrong on purpose and purposely do badly on art projects. And I was always feeling like, “Oh, I can’t be good at piano and math because that’s typical of all Asian people.” Being diagnosed with cancer was the nicest everyone ever was to me. Everyone has to be nice to the bald girl.
Did you engage in social media? No, and I’m just so glad that there’s not a lot of documentation of that part of my life. It would have been like, “Oh, #weloveashley. She has cancer.”
What are you most grateful that no one ever posted online? I block embarrassing things out of my memory.
What would you tell your high school self? Have a little bit more fun in high school. I never stayed out late or did anything like that. Buck up when it comes to boys a little bit. I was so shy. I never had to dig deep for how Gretchen feels. Because for me, growing up, if I was ever in the room with a white girl, I was going to be second. I would always be very surprised when a boy would like me.
Role Karen Smith
High School Sycamore High School, Cincinnati
What were you like in high school? I was at a really big school in the Midwest. We had a thriving theater community. I always knew I loved music and theater and I was able to excel in that environment, so I was very safe there. I never wanted to be a popular kid.
Favorite outfit? Probably boot cut jeans and a polo-style shirt that I bought at Limited Too. Flip-flops, as long as it wasn’t snowing.