Ashley Emerson: The DLG-Proust-Actors Studio Questionnaire*

by Joseph McKeown

Associate Attorney Ashley Emerson grew up in Ashford, Connecticut, a town, she says, that “has more cows than people.” She first became interested in law during high school. “I had an amazing teacher,” she says. “He had this elective law class. It was so interesting, ethically and morally. Everything about it was fascinating. Before that I wanted to be a vet. But I realized you couldn’t just specialize in one type of animal, you had to be a vet for all animals. I didn’t want to deal with creepy animals like snakes and other things.” She went onto undergraduate studies at Wheaton College in Massachusetts. “I was looking for a school that was small and liberal arts,” she says. “I also wanted to be somewhere I could be really involved in campus life. It was a Division III School, so I could play volleyball and sing a cappella. Being a student was my first priority, of course, but I wanted to find a balance.”

During her junior year she studied abroad in Paris at Sweet Briar College, the oldest coeducational intercollegiate program in Paris. “It was the first time I really experienced other cultures,” she says. “France is an interesting mix. There’s a large Muslim community, for example. When I was in Paris, there was a lot of debate over immigration issues, and I remember one politician in particular whose stance was, ‘Don’t ever let any immigrants into France.’ That made me think, ‘I wonder what our immigration policy is like?’ When I got back I started to pay a little more attention.”

Although after college graduation she was offered a teaching position in France (“I would love to be a teacher,” she says), since she had already been accepted to New York Law School and could not defer enrollment, she went ahead with her legal education. She initially interned at Daryanani Law Group during law school, and upon obtaining her J.D. in May 2010, she was offered a position at the firm. “We were so impressed with her work and dedication to clients that we asked her to join the firm,” Managing Partner Protima Daryanani says. “It was an easy decision. Quite simply, Ashley is excellent at what she does. And having watched her develop from a law student into a practicing lawyer, I can say I would trust her with my own case. She is also excellent at initiating Pinkberry deliveries and shares my love of Pio Pio.”

“It makes anyone’s job so much better when you have good co-workers,” Ashley says.” As to the clients: “Some of my favorite clients include fine artists. I love seeing their work. They’re so creative. It’s great.” After moving around New York City quite a bit, as is normal for many New Yorkers, she just renewed her lease for her Hell’s Kitchen apartment, which she shares with her two cats. “It’s a nice walk to work,” she says. “And there’s an amazing Thai food restaurant nearby.”

*Questions taken from and/or inspired by the Proust/Inside the Actors Studio/Bernard Pivot/AnOther Magazine questionnaires

What is your favorite word?

What is your least favorite word?

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Music. It is close to my heart, and singing has always been one of my creative outlets—I’m perpetually humming a soundtrack to my life!

What turns you off?

What sound or noise do you love?
The crunch of crisp leaves on a cool autumn day.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Winemaker/Vintner. I would love to own a vineyard in France and make amazing wines.

What is your idea of happiness?    
Family and sunshine.

What is your idea of misery?
Being cold and alone.

Where would you like to live?    
Realistically, a suburb so I can have a backyard and be close to nature; in my fantasy life, the countryside in southern France.

Who are your favorite prose authors?    
The Brontë sisters.

Who are your heroes in real life?    
My family. I admire and am inspired by so many different strengths in my parents, grandparents, and sisters.

What would your last meal be?    
A multicourse French dinner including bread and mustard; French onion soup; steak tartare; a cheese board; and a Bordeaux red wine.

What do you hate the most?    
People who are closed-minded, mean-spirited, or condescending.

What natural talent would you like to be gifted with?
Dance. That’s not to say I have two left feet, but I admire the strength and grace of professional dancers—particularly ballet dancers.

How do you wish to die?   
Peacefully, surrounded by loved ones.

What is your present state of mind?   
Optimistic and excited for all of the possibilities the future holds.

For what fault have you most toleration?    
Stubbornly wanting to make one’s own mistakes.

What are you thinking of right now?
How hungry I am…it’s lunch time!

What makes you laugh?
My friends and family.

What makes you cry?
Parting with loved ones. And the movie Armageddon.

What do you consider to be the greatest invention?

Where do you feel most at home?
With my family, regardless of the geographic location.

What do you most like about the age we live in?
The ease of communication. I love being able to Facetime or Skype my mom and sisters whether they are in Connecticut, Boston, Italy, or Qatar!

Whatʼs the best advice youʼve been given?
I can’t control everything. And to have patience.

What is the biggest risk youʼve ever taken?
I’m not a big risk taker, but probably playing competitive volleyball just days after getting a concussion.

What is a book or movie that has changed your perspective on life?
The Color Purple. I find this an inspiring book on many levels.

What is your earliest childhood memory?
The velvet-textured wallpaper in the “Big Sister Room’” at the hospital when I first visited my mom and newborn sister.

If you could wish for one change in the world what would it be?
To eliminate all types of cancer, but specifically breast cancer.