14-year-old Riverton singer/dancer competes in Timbaland’s new TV series
Ashlund Jade, from Riverton, stars in “The Pop Game,” which aired Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime. (©2016 A&E Television Networks, LLC)
Gallery: 14-year-old Riverton singer/dancer competes in Timbaland’s new TV series [2 Images] Click any image to expand.
Fourteen-year-old Riverton singer “Ashlund Jade” Ortiz is one of five teenagers to star in a new Lifetime reality TV series, which could land her a contract with Timbaland’s music label.
“The Pop Game,” which premiered Feb. 21, follows teenage performers as they are coached by Timbaland, a multi-platinum, Grammy-winning producer and artist, and other celebrity artists, including JoJo, Macy Gray, Nelly Furtado and Jordin Sparks. The teens are given challenges that they must face with their parent-managers, and the contest winner is promised a record contract with Mosely Music Group.
“I feel like I got so much better at performing,” Ashlund said about her experience on the show. “It made me realize how much goes into being a pop star.”
The Utah-based singer/dancer said she’s wanted to be a famous quadruple threat—a singer, dancer, actress and model—since the age of 5 but started seriously generating a fan base in November 2014 when she recorded a music video cover of Echosmith’s “Cool Kids.” The video was intended to be a marketing gimmick for both her music career and her mother’s dance and clothing boutique, Twinkle Me Pretty, which is based out of South Jordan.
“It was actually an accident that it got so popular,” Ashlund said about the “Cool Kids” video that garnered more than a million views within three months and now has more than 13 million views. “We just wanted to make it for fun, but it went viral. I thought: ‘People love this. I should get more into it.’”
From that time, Ashlund and her mother, Mindy, began actively producing music videos for Ashlund’s YouTube Channel. Because they were new to the YouTube music video scene, neither mother nor daughter thought to post contact information with the videos. This presented a problem when DreamWorksTV wanted to offer Ashlund a spot on their channel for their YouTube series “Songs that Stick.”
For several months, DreamWorksTV couldn’t reach Ashlund until they realized “Twinkle Me Pretty” was a family business and made the contact through company information, Mindy said. Ashlund began working with DreamWorksTV to produce cover videos while still developing other music videos on her own YouTube page. Mindy also connected Ashlund with a manager in Los Angeles to help her gain exposure through other means.
Each of Ashlund’s cover songs includes extensive dance routines, many of which are choreographed in the dance room that’s in the back of her mother’s boutique. From recording the voice track and learning the dance moves to filming and editing, Ashlund said it usually takes her crew about two to three weeks to put a music video together.
Ashlund recently finished creating the music video for her first original song, written by Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd who is known for co-writing many of Justin Bieber’s songs. She said this is a huge stepping stone in her performing career.
“I’ve been doing this for two years, and I always wanted my own original song,” she said. “The song gives away the exact message I want to portray. It’s called ‘Ultimatum,’ and it’s about not caring what other people think about you and loving yourself and following your dreams.”
From working on her original song, building her own YouTube following and consistently producing covers for DreamWorks TV, Ashlund’s schedule was already packed when she added “The Pop Game” to the mix. The show’s scouts asked Ashlund to audition on several occasions, and she decided to move forward after a go-ahead from her mom and manager.
Ashlund wasn’t the only Ortiz who would face the cameras on “The Pop Game.” The show required Mindy to be on screen, which she said was entirely out of her comfort zone.
“I was worried,” Mindy said. “I don’t like cameras, so that was a big thing for me. But it ended up being amazing.”
Ashlund, 13 at the time of filming, was the youngest contestant, but she said she didn’t let that get her down.
“The show actually gave me more confidence,” she said. “It put me through those hard challenges, but I was able to work through them. It made me have more confidence in what I do—everything that I do.”
Although the competition on the show was fierce, Ashlund said the hardest part about the 10-week show was being away from her family. Ashlund’s father had stayed in Riverton with her two younger brothers throughout the filming to keep his local business going and cart the boys to their competitive baseball games. Even with missing her family, though, Ashlund said the mentoring she received from celebrities was worth the sacrifice.
“It does get really hard sometimes because I get busy, but I just remember the fans I’m inspiring and motivating, and I remember the hard work I’ve put into this, and I remember my dream—what I want to do when I am older, and that’s when it makes things OK.”
Ashlund and Mindy couldn’t disclose whether Ashlund scored the record contract with Timbaland, but those interested in following the singer and dancer can watch “The Pop Game” on Lifetime TV.