Stylist 16: Ashley Jensen

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Ugly Betty star Ashley Jensen chats to Stylist about her recurring meatball dream (starring Laurel & Hardy) and why she cherishes her home's toilet for five minutes of peace. The actress is set to appear in upcoming comedy All Stars.

ABOVE: Ashley in next month's comedy All Stars

1. When was the last time you hid?

Probably yesterday in a cupboard, playing hide and seek with my son Frankie. He’s three and a half.

2. What’s in your handbag?

A mobile phone and a purse. Also sunglasses, because I’m optimistic. Some Nākd bars – they’re health bars, they’re really good. A water bottle with dinosaurs on it for Frankie. Some wet wipes. Some felt tip pens. And probably some Finger Monsters and some little pirate people.

I have a plethora of handbags but the main bag I use is one I got from Portobello Road years ago. It’s brown leather and it’s made by an Ethiopian Nomadic tribe. I’ve had it for maybe ten years. It’s one of those bags that just weathers really well.

My finest hour was giving birth and getting through it.

3. Do you have any tattoos, if so what?

I have none at all. I’ve always been a wee bit too sensible for it. I don’t think I’ve got the skin for it. I think I would always be like, ‘Oh that was a bit of a mistake.’ And then you’re stuck with it.

4. Sedan chair: good idea or a bad idea?

It’s a bad idea. I would feel far too guilty about someone carrying me around. I would get the person carrying me to have a wee go and then I would probably end up sweating. So for me, no. I couldn’t do the guilt.

ABOVE: Another still from All Stars

5. What are you most ashamed of?

I’m slightly ashamed that I often can’t get through a film without falling asleep before the end.

6. Is the world getting better, or worse?

I think I have to say it’s getting better because if you say it’s getting worse, it’s like, what’s the point? It’s difficult because I think deep down it is getting worse but… let me just think about it.

Yeah, I think maybe it is getting worse. Ultimately it’s all too fast and too extreme and I hanker after something simpler. But I think you can extract yourself from what’s getting worse. Like reality TV shows, for example. I don’t have anything to do with them. But then again, Skype is a good thing.

I’m a bit ambiguous on this one, it’s tricky. I’m much more optimistic now than I used to be. I tended to worry about things before they happened but then I realised that was not a good plan because what I was worrying about might not happen. But I think now I’m much more optimistic.

7. Cheese or chocolate?

Cheese. I get quite excited at a cheese platter. I like a big, melting Brie. I like a good sharp Cheddar as well. The smellier, the better. But they never give you enough on platters, it’s always slightly disappointing. I want a proper old wedge.

8. What was your finest hour?

Giving birth. And getting through it. Being able to smile for the first time after giving birth.

ABOVE: Ashley with America Ferrera on Ugly Betty in 2008

9. What does feminism means to you?

To have the same rights and respect and pay as a man without having to compromise femininity. I believe in equal rights and I still wear high heels. I still like to celebrate being a woman. I think the idea that a woman has to shed her femininity to be treated the same way as a man is kind of unfair really.

10. Which part of your home do you like best?

The kitchen. I enjoy pottering in the kitchen. I think it’s always the heart of the house because food is such a big part of life and it says such a lot. People say, ‘Come round for a meal’ or, ‘Let’s go out for a meal’ or ‘Here’s a gift of food’, and the kitchen is where it all happens.

I also think the toilet, because you get five minutes of peace, just to be on your own.

I'm much more optimistic now than I used to be

11. What’s guaranteed to make you cry?

Neglect of old people. I still feel that we forget that old people are intelligent and have stories and were lovers and runners and writers and workers and flirters and things like that. It upsets me when old people are cast aside or treated with disrespect.

12. What do you dream about at night?

Not a great deal, recently. I used to have a recurring dream as a child about Laurel & Hardy and a giant meatball. It was a bit weird. There was a lot of red velvet and I was the only person in the audience and Laurel & Hardy were performing. And then I’d look to the side and there would be this giant meatball. And I would be like, ‘Ha, ha, ha - Laurel & Hardy. Ooh, the meatball.’ And I would always wake up before the meatball got me.

ABOVE: Ashley on the red carpet earlier this year

13. Complete the sentence: Britain needs more…


14. Are you a lover or a fighter?

I think I’m a lover.

15. Have you left the gas on?

Oh my God, yes. That’s why I have an induction hob, because they switch themselves off.

16. What question would you like to ask Stylist readers?

Has the recent horse meat scandal and the resurgence of interest in goat by some high profile chefs influenced your attitude towards your own diet? (Answer in the comments section, below!)

All Stars is out 3 May. Find out more at

Photos: Rex Features and Vertigo Films