Ashley Maria

Director, award-winning social impact documentary film maker of Pioneers in Skirts - a movie about women & ambition

Ashley Maria is a filmmaker based in Los Angeles, California.

Winner of the coveted Directors Guild of America (DGA) award for the comedy/horror short film "Friday Night Fright," she was also featured by the DGA Women's Steering Committee as a director who represents The Future of Women in Film. This honor led to a coveted mentorship with director Wes Craven. Ashley is also known for developing the first-ever 360 immersive Kickstarter update video for her 2015 Pioneers in Skirts Fundraising campaign.

Her first feature film, Pioneers in Skirts, a documentary, was released in 2020. The film follows her own journey to understand the bias and sexism women confront in their careers and what we ALL can do as a culture to evolve past it. Recently, Ashley was awarded "Best New Director" at the Downtown LA Film Festival for the documentary.

Outside of filmmaking, Ashley was selected twice as a North American delegate to attend the United Nation's Commission on the Status of Women - the principal global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and the advancement of women.



Pioneers in Skirts follows Ashley’s journey as she examines the barriers and setbacks women confront in their careers. Analyzing the stereotyping and sexism that can chip away at a woman’s pioneering ambition, this social impact documentary aims to show the audience what we ALL can do to change it.

Many women battle a bias that is eroding their ambition. There are mountains of research (study after study…after study) that reveal women start out their careers with more ambition than men, but as soon as 2 years out of college women’s confidence and ambition plummets by over 60%. These declines came independent of marriage or motherhood status. And, this phenomenon affects women across professions. Why the dashed expectations?

The film is an engaging social conscious documentary that addresses the stereotyping and sexism that can chip away at a woman, hurt her potential, and make her feel like she must re-think her dreams.


As ambitious women are forced to maneuver a work-world built for company men, Ashley wastes no time planning her escape while clearing a path for the women coming up fast behind her.

Runtime: 60 minutes


Pioneers in Skirts is an engaging examination of gender parity in the workplace from the perspective of a female filmmaker who was frustrated with her own problems in the film industry.

Not finding many answers within her profession, she decides to expand her search to include other industries and society in general.

In an inspiring portrait of perseverance and determination, director Ashley Maria not only shares her own story, but she follows the journey of 3 middle school robotics club girls and their fathers as well as a young mother – all while traveling the U.S. to investigate solutions, speaking to fellow pioneering women and interviewing topic experts.

By the end of her quest, Ashley finds out how we ALL can address the stereotyping and sexism that can chip away at a woman, hurt her potential, and make her feel like she must re-think her dreams.

Ashley Maria and Lea-Ann W. Berst (Producer) are on a mission to deliver diverse perspectives.

After years of research and traveling the country to make their Emmy-nominated film, Pioneers in Skirts, they captured stories about overcoming unfair barriers and being a catalyst for change.

This daughter-mother duo offers your audience:
- behind-the-scenes stories of the making of the film,
- the numbers…the stats (when it comes to impacting change — stories move hearts, numbers move minds!),
- personal journey perspectives in discovering their own ingrained biases, and
- solutions for impacting positive change within our culture.

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