For the average 17-year-old, traveling the globe as a part of Beyoncé's dance squad is the stuff dreams are made of. However, for Ashley Everett, it's fact. When it comes to the past decade of Everett's life, it truly sounds like a page ripped from a fairy tale, narrating her journey from promising Juilliard School prospect to ditching school and blowing up as the global superstar's fiery dance captain.
Now, at 27, the dancer and actress has a handful of highlights thanks to a single decision she made as a teenager. The most recent being the surprise engagement her longtime boyfriend, dancer, choreographer and actor John Silver, put together that pretty much trumps any other proposal to ever go viral. Popping the big question on stage to "Single Ladies" during Beyoncé's recent Formation World Tour stop in St. Louis in front of screaming fans? Priceless.
Billboard chatted with the newly-engaged Everett about her viral proposal and embracing the uniqueness of beauty through dance in a new video.
:: still on a high from last night! so happy for my family @1j.silver + @ashleycmeverett ! love yall! wow! ---- | @beyonce we love & thank you for allowing this moment to happen, without a 2nd thought! talk about PERFECT!! U smashed it John!!! ------------ #Mr&MrsSilver #HappilyEngaged #Beyonce #AshleyEverett #JohnSilver #FormationWorldTour #StLouis [ @chrisgranted x @doramelissa x @toddtourso x @maddsoul x #WeDidIt lol ]
A video posted by JaQuel Knight (@jaquelknight) on Sep 11, 2016 at 7:08am PDT
First off, congratulations on your engagement! John really did an amazing job. Did you have any idea what was going on?
No, I definitely didn't. I technically didn't even know he was in town, but I did know that since St. Louis is his hometown, he may have surprised me. He kept telling me he wasn't coming and he was in Chicago. Well, we all know he was pretending. [Laughs] Still, I definitely wasn't expecting all that. When he came up on stage, that was the first time I had seen him since we started touring and I was like, "Oh my God, what's going on?"
Were you nervous?
Yes, of course. As soon as he walked up, [reached into his] jacket, and Beyoncé handed him the microphone, I knew something big was going down. I was literally telling myself to get it together because it was in front of all of these people. If you ask him too, I remember I took one of my in-ear [pieces] out so I could hear him [in person], and I was totally shaking when he tried to put the ring on my finger.
I'm sure he's gone out of his way to do romantic gestures, but was something this public shocking for you?
It's not really out of his character. He's an entertainer and the life of the party a lot of the time. But I was kind of nervous for him. I was like thinking to myself like, "Hold on, he must have practiced this or something." He looked and sounded so comfortable.
I heard Beyoncé was in on the engagement the entire time. Can you give a play-by-play about how everything came together?
Well, he actually mentioned that he was originally trying to do it back in May, which was the beginning of the tour, but the start of every tour is always rough because we're still working out the kinks and changing stuff everyday so it just didn't work out then. I think he was also trying to do it in my hometown [in California], where my family is from. So later on they reached back out to him to see if he still wanted to do it and he was like, "Hell yeah." They then spoke to Beyoncé, who said absolutely. It just worked out really organically and the way it was supposed to.
This was the first time you all performed "Single Ladies" in quite some time, right?
Yeah, we only performed it one time during the beginning of the tour, probably like the first show and then it got cut. So for us to add it back in, [the dancers] were only wondering why now after six months. But then again, we're always changing things so it wasn't shocking to anyone or made us think twice about the decision.
I was truly amazed that you stuck it out on stage and finished out the choreography. How did you muster up the energy and willpower?
Well, we rehearsed the steps and did it one time before where fans were brought up to perform and dance with Beyoncé. So we did the same thing this time around and they asked me to come to the center for whatever reason and told me to finish the choreography full out. But I've been doing that choreography for how many years now so it's pretty much second nature and muscle memory. [Laughs] But it definitely took a second for me to register what was going on and be like, "Okay Ashley, get back in it, we're still performing." And then I ran off the stage screaming like, "What just happened!"
How did you and your fiancé meet?
We originally met back in 2010 working for Ne-Yo together. We did three videos and he was one of the main guys. We kind of spoke at the second video shoot and at the third shoot, we were partners and actually had a real conversation. It's crazy because people had been telling us both that we'd really get along and that we're a lot alike. It was like, "Okay sure, whatever," but when we were partners in that last video, we were kind of forced to talk, but it was all good and we actually hit it off and became friends. The rest is history. [Laughs]
Has Beyoncé offered any advice on your forthcoming union?
We haven't talked about that yet but she gave her congratulations. She said, "You guys look so happy, I wish you the best." But we haven't spoke about future plans or advice on the married life or anything like that just yet. She's given relationship advice to all of [the dancers] in general. There hasn't been anything specifically for me or John but a lot of her work ethic, feminist qualities and things of that nature are advice on their own I feel.
Now that the tour is over, what's next for you?
I do plan on taking a little break because it's been a wild year for me. Of course, I want to enjoy the engaged life. We haven't discussed a date just yet but we're definitely going planning the wedding. But, work-wise, I'm a part of a new video for an amazing song called "Beautiful" by Rahkii. It was an unplanned piece that came just together at the last second but the whole idea of it is that beauty comes from within and it's not just an external thing. Every person is beautiful regardless of how you look, what size you are, the color of your skin, or how tall you are and that's what it's embracing. The video showcases different dance styles and the different dancers doing their own thing then we all come together, connecting through dance while still staying true to who we are and our unique style.