Most know, Ashely Benson, from her role as ‘Hanna Marin’ from the Freeform show, Pretty Little Liars (PLL), however, the actress has been in the film industry since she was nine. Benson’s first roles included ‘Abigail Deveraux’ in Days of Our Lives and one of the ‘six chicks’ on the popular romantic comedy, 13 Going on 30. Nonetheless, Ashley got recognized for her amazing talent because of PLL. Pretty Little Liars became one of the biggest teen shows of the decade which Benson received an abundance of praise for; she was nominated for 15 awards during the course of the 7-year run the show had. However, as a famous actress, there is always a downfall with receiving this celebrity status: the paparazzi and the press.
During an interview with Cosmopolitan, Ashely explained how she has been dealing with bullying since she was a child. Before she received roles and was still attending school, she would get bullied for wanting to be an actress. She noted, “Kids can be mean and jealous. At the time, it wasn’t cool to be on TV. Every week, I was working on commercials and all the kids would see me…I got bullied and hated it” Luckily enough, once she secured more roles, she was able to start homeschooling instead.
However, now, the bullying has increased on a larger scale with the constant media attention she receives. “I can’t leave my house without getting followed every day….I don’t want photos, and it’s annoying. It’s a complete invasion of privacy.” Ashely continued to talk about her experience with the paparazzi on a podcast with Paris Hilton and she explained, “It almost causes like car wrecks…they like go through stop lights…. they scream horrible stuff at you. They just bother you to get a reaction.” The press’s persistence to get stories and photos of Benson has given her “so much anxiety”. She feels as if she is unable to leave her house to do anything because of the fear of them following her.
Once the paparazzi and the press get the information they need, the gossip on social media sites starts to spread “If gossip comes out and stories are completely false, what can you do? I’m not going to sit out there and be like, ‘This isn’t true, this is what’s really happening,” Ashely commented on when rumors of her get spread around.
Ashely loves what she does. “If I have time off or anything… I go a little crazy. I have to work… it’s the only thing that kinda stimulates me,” therefore she has found ways to help her with the anxiety of being an actress. She mentions that she does mediation to help with panic attacks and her anxiety. She further explains that she loves to go to therapy and to be surrounded by her positive group of friends.
With more celebrities coming out with their stories with the press such as Britney Spears and Meghan Markle, there is no surprise that more women are facing these brutal experiences with the public. Nevertheless, Ashely knows that “female empowerment and bringing women up is so important now”. So, Benson is glad, “that people are now paying attention to what’s happened to women in the industry for so long.” With more fans and supporters watching the media and criticizing it, hopefully, celebrities’ private lives become private without the need for commentary from the outside world.