Do you remember the Austin Powers movies? Remember Dr. Evil’s sidekick, Mini-Me? Well, that’s how Ashley “Minnie” Ross got her nickname way back in the day.
“My good buddy started calling me Minnie [laughs].”
And while the star of the newest show in the Little Women franchise can laugh about it now, jokes about her size and the stares that came with them made it hard for the 31-year-old when she was growing up in Atlanta. And as you will soon find out, even trying to get a job as a hairstylist as a little person was tough for Ross. But trust and believe that this isn’t a sad story. The sweet and comical stylist and newest reality star has learned to brush off the jokes, allow her talent to speak for her in the ATL haircare industry, and in her words, give people (including possible suitors) something to stare at. Learn more about Ross, whom you can call “Minnie,” from our chat below.
MadameNoire: Why did you want to take part in Little Women: Atlanta?
Ashley “Minnie” Ross: I wanted to be part of this movement because I want everyone to see our point of view in life. I want people to, you know, see what we go through. The everyday struggle that little people go through in life. When people say the struggle is real? It’s real. We go through hell and back.
MN: Were you nervous about doing the show considering that, especially with the LA franchise, there can be a lot of drama and even physical violence?
Ross: No. At first, I was, but I’m not nervous. I was born to do this. I’m a go-getter, and I stay ready. I’m that type of person. So, no. I put my nerves to the side and did me. I did what was best for me.
MN: How was it for you growing up as a little person in Atlanta?
Ross: Growing up as a little person in Atlanta, it was difficult. People were bullying and teasing and pointing and staring. People stared constantly. You get people who try to take pictures of you on the side. And as I grew up, even with employers, I would try to get a job, and they wouldn’t hire me because I was a little person. They thought that it was a disability and that I couldn’t do the job. But I was like, “Yes, I can!” I can do anything that a normal-sized person can do. Just give me a stool and I can do it.
But I had a lot of jobs that turned me down. They would have a sign saying “Hiring” and when I would go and try to apply for the job they would say, “No, we’re not hiring.”
MN: How were you able to maintain a positive outlook even with such forms of rejection and bullying?
Ross: My mom, she’s my rock. She’s my best friend. She sat down with me one day and said, “You have people staring at you. Give them something to stare at.” So I always kid with her and say, “You created a diva.” Because when she told me that, well, nowadays, it takes two hours for me to get ready. And when I walk out of the door I’m on point because I’m like, I don’t know who’s staring at me and who is trying to take a picture of me. But if they’re going to stare, I’m going to give them something to stare at.
When I was younger, it used to bother me. I used to cry and ask my mom, “Why are they staring at me?” My mom would tell me, “You’re different, but God made you this way for a reason.” And, as I got older, I got used to it. It doesn’t bother me anymore. I don’t care if people stare at me, but if you’re being ignorant about the situation, now that’s what bothers me.
MN: Did you have any brothers and sisters?
Ross: No, I’m the only child. But I had friends that would take up for me. One of my best friends used to go off on everybody who used to say something crazy about me. And like I said, I had my mom, and I had my family who’ve been very supportive of me.
MN: When you were finally able to get opportunities to do hair, how did clients initially treat you? Did they give you a chance?
Ross: The old saying is, “It takes somebody to know somebody.” My mom knew a hairstylist and that woman gave me the opportunity to work in her shop as her assistant. And when I went to school and got my license, I started working in her shop. I guess, me being a little person, people were actually drawn to me. People were like, “Oh I want her to do my hair. I want to see what she can do.” I was getting clientele back to back because they wanted to experience a little person doing their hair.
MN: Have you been taken seriously considering how massive the hair scene is in Atlanta? It’s a competitive market.
Ross: Yes. Atlanta is the capital of competitive hair. You have to be on your toes 24/7. Your hustle has to be on point because you can’t half-step in Atlanta with the hair business.
MN: How has your dating life been in Atlanta, especially as a little woman? What kind of men approach you and what kinds have you had to avoid?
Ross: I have been approached by all kinds of men. They say that men have a fantasy of dating a little person. I don’t know why [laughs]. We’re normal, we’re just short-statured. I’ve had men just come up to me and say, “You know what? I want to date you. I can throw you up in the air,” and I’m like, “No, you can’t.” First of all, I’m heavy, and you’re not throwing me nowhere [laughs]. But on the other hand, little people have to watch out in the dating world because you don’t know what people’s motive are. You don’t know if they’re for you or if they’re just dating you because you’re a little person. You don’t know what their intentions are. So we always have to be on guard when it comes to dating.
MN: What can fans of the LA and New York edition expect from the Atlanta edition of Little Women?
Ross: You can expect a group of girls that’s fun and love to enjoy themselves. Yeah, we might fight. We might argue, but that’s family. Name one family that doesn’t fight. And at the end of the day, we have each other’s back.
Catch the series premiere of Little Women: Atlanta tonight (and every Wednesday night) at 10 p.m. on Lifetime, right after the season premiere of Little Women: LA.