Ashly Perez wears a lot of hats.
Not literally. In real life, she wears a moderate amount of trendy hats. But behind the scenes of her new YouTube series, Unfortunatly Ashly, she wears plenty of metaphorical ones.
In addition to conceiving the idea, acting in the lead role and producing, Perez was also involved in bringing Toyota on board, making it the first sponsored scripted series from BuzzFeed.
"Toyota was so generous with their interactions with us," Perez told Adweek. "We actually had the same goals. They're all about taking young people where they want to go, and our series has always been about empowerment, too.
"They gave us complete creative control," she added. "The way they integrated into the series was so seamless, that people may not even know they're a part of it."
It was a natural collaboration, said Nancy Inouye, media director for Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc.
"A partnership like this can only be successful if it's executed in an authentic way," she said, adding that the series is "youthful and stylish, and encourages viewers to take on the world."
Unfortunatly Ashly is more like a sitcom than You Do You, another series from BuzzFeedViolet, a YouTube channel centered on four female characters, "like a mini-Marvel," Perez said. The channel has nearly 3 million subscribers and 340 pieces of content.
"My comedic inspiration comes from women like Lucille Ball, or Mindy Kaling, or Mary Tyler Moore," she said. "Their shows focused on these zany women and their adventures."
"Every morning before filming, I'd make everyone sit down and watch I Love Lucy on my laptop," said Perez. "I like how entertainment is kind of returning to the old way of doing things, where the stars are also the whole package behind the projects."
Each of the eight episodes is available today, for free, on YouTube.
"People tend to separate audiences into traditional and newer, digital people," said Perez. "I don't see it as a huge difference, but instead, we're seeing a huge overlap. People are watching TV on their phones or on Apple TVs, and I hope people who are watching The Mindy Project are the same people who will watch Unfortunatly Ashly.
"We just want to provide the best way possible for our audience to watch our content."
Digital audiences crave two things, and BuzzFeedViolet has succeeded at offering both, Perez said. "There are those snackable, short-form videos for people who are between classes or on their lunch break at work," she said, "but now there are also longer stories to watch once you get home from work or school."