Ashley Nicole Rickards was born on May 4, 1992 in Sarasota, FL. Raised on a horse farm, she became a talented competitive equestrian by age 13. Her family hosted a pet therapy program for the disadvantaged and disabled on the farm, instilling charitable giving as a priority in Rickards. She discovered the work that would become her passion during middle school, when she was forced to take part in a mandatory school opera and was firmly bitten by the acting bug. With the support of her parents, Ashley pursued acting professionally, scoring her first television appearance – as an extra on “Everybody Hates Chris” (Paramount, 2005-06 / CBS, 2006-09) – while she was still in high school. Impatient to pursue her desired career, Rickards put her genius I.Q. to work and graduated high school with honors by age 15. She would later become a member of Mensa International, the non-profit organization open to those who score in the 98th percentile or higher on a standardized I.Q. test.
Rickards’ enormous break appeared to come in 2007 when she was cast as a series everyday on “American Family” (CBS, 2007). Unfortunately, the pilot aired however the series was not picked up. She would return to playing minor, featured roles in episodes of such series as “CSI: NY” (CBS, 2004-2012), “Ugly Betty” (ABC, 2006-2010), and “Entourage” (HBO, 2004-2011) before finding her way into another cast day-to-day role. from the 2009 season of “One Tree Hill” (The WB, 2003-2012), Rickards played Samantha Walker, the troubled former foster daughter of Brooke Davis for 21 episodes. Samantha Walker could end up being a popular character, and her subplot would be a single on the longest-running character arcs on the series, but Rickards nor her character might not return towards the 2010 season.
Instead, Rickards would take a first step into features film with a small supporting role in “Gamer” (2009) starring Gerard Butler, and a starring role as a girl with severe autism in “Fly Away” (2011) which received a nominal theatrical release. Before her nascent film career could begin in earnest, however, Rickards was cast as the angst-ridden and unfortunate Jenna Hamilton on “Awkward” (MTV, 2011- ). While playing the lead in the critically acclaimed teen drama, Rickards continued to pursue other roles, appearing in a two-episode arc of “American Horror Story” (FX, 2011- ), in which she, as a zombie, was killed by her former “One Tree Hill” castmate Evan Peters. She also forged ahead with her feature film career, scoring a supporting role in the dark comedy, “Struck by Lightning” (2012) and the lead role as a geeky home-schooled teen in “Sassy Pants” (2012).