The first time Carlsbad resident Ashley Kajiki went to an acting audition, she came away with what a lot of novice actors covet -- her first acting gig in a popular AMC series "Breaking Bad."
That was in 2008. Since then, she followed up with two more episodes in the television series. Now, she hopes to move onto the big screen. Early this month, she auditioned for a part in the movie "Frank," which is currently in the pre-production stage and will be filmed in the Albuquerque area.
"The role I auditioned for was the part of an iconic hipster -- that's what they called the role. The character relates to two of the main characters in the movie," Kajiki said. "It's about a man who joins a band in Europe, comes to the states and how he interacts and sees them during their journey together."
Kajiki, a 2003 Carlsbad High School graduate, said she is anxiously waiting to hear whether she made the cut and if she will be called back for another audition.
"I'm keeping my fingers crossed," she said. "When I auditioned, I was told it will take a few weeks before they make a decision. The casting director told me she was thrilled with my performance during the audition. I think I may have a good chance of getting the part. I was told there were only a handful of people that auditioned for the part. The casting director also said I looked great on film. But in this business, you never know how things will turn out."
Kajiki said she did not strongly pursue an acting career; it sort of found her.
"I never thought of going into the acting business. I never took acting lessons or was on stage while growing up," she said. "My brother and I were talking recently and he reminded me that when we were kids, we ate and slept the movies. We loved watching movies. We would memorize lines from our favorite movies and recite them back to each other. I had forgotten that. I guess deep down, I was destined to go in this direction."
She first stepped in front of a camera in 2007, when she had an opportunity to model for Torrid Fashion, a plus-sized clothing line, modeling trendy fashions for the company's online catalog.
At 5 feet, 11 inches tall, Kajiki said her height always sparked comments from people that she should be a model.
So for fun, she snapped a photo of herself on her cell phone and submitted it to Torrid Fashions.
To her surprise, she was asked to model for the company.
After the modeling shoot in Los Angeles, she submitted photos of herself to other agencies in Southern California and New York. She also found two agencies in northern New Mexico, one in Albuquerque and the other in Santa Fe. She sent photos and was picked up by the Actors and Models Agency in Santa Fe.
That's when the acting industry came knocking on her door. She was asked to audition for "Breaking Bad" and got the part, working with Bryan Cranston in the show's second season. During the third episode of the season, she interacts with Giancarlo Esposito, the actor who played Gus Fring.
After three speaking parts in the television series, Kajiki became eligible to become a member of the Screen Actors Guild. She became a SAG member in 2010.
"I'm extremely fortunate," Kajiki said. "I have never taken acting or modeling lessons, yet I have achieved what it takes some people years to achieve. I think one thing in my favor is that my looks allow me to play a Native American, Hispanic or Asian. I have my parents to thank for that."
Her father, Takanobu Kajiki, or "T.K.," is Japanese, and her mother, Elizabeth, is Hispanic.
Both parents have been supportive of Kajiki's acting aspirations.
Kajiki said while working in New Mexico's film industry and modeling is something she enjoys, she has not actively pursued it of late.
"Just knowing that I was able to work on a television series is good enough for me. I stay pretty busy at my day job in Carlsbad," said Kajiki, who works for Murrill Electric as its executive assistant. "But when I do get a call, Bill and Valerie Murrill are very supportive and allow me to go and audition for a part."
While she is waiting to hear whether she will get the role she auditioned for in the upcoming movie "Frank," Kajiki is also working on her own big production -- her wedding.
This past August, she became engaged to Ramon Romero and the wedding is set for November 2013.
"Ramon is very supportive of what I am doing," Kajiki said. "In fact, he helped me rehearse my lines and read the parts of the two major characters that I would be interacting with if I get the role. He also read my part so I could see the character from the outside-in. I think in doing that, it helped me make a good impression in my audition."
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