Ashley Holt ’12

From These Hills to Hollywood Hills

By Shaw Hipsher

Ashley Holt ’12 started her first post-college job even before crossing the stage at graduation. A job offer from The Doctors talk show was just too good to pass up, even though it meant completing her final semester remotely.

Even before transferring to Clemson as a sophomore, Holt knew she wanted to work in film or television. Holt lived in Los Angeles near Hollywood until she was 12 years old, at which point her family moved to Charleston — a move she is so grateful for because she so enjoyed growing up in beautiful South Carolina. It was during her junior year at Ashley Hall that a job shadowing experience led Holt back to Hollywood for the first of half dozen impactful internships that piqued her interest and lit her fire for working in film and television.

After high school, she started her college career at College of Charleston, then transferred to Clemson halfway through her sophomore year. Holt loved the close-knit environment of Clemson, where she already knew great people and met many more new friends.

“It’s a family first,” Holt said. “Even though I only had two years at Clemson, I have great pride in the University.” From sorority events with Tri Delta to football games with roommates and live music in downtown Clemson, Holt felt at home. “Both the town and the University have so much charm,” she said.

Holt majored in management and minored in film studies at Clemson and started building significant experience early through summer internships at places like Entertainment Tonight and Paramount Pictures. After her post-production internship at Paramount Pictures, she was given the opportunity to work on CBS’s The Doctors — an opportunity too good to pass up even though it meant being remote her final semester at Clemson. Holt moved to Los Angeles; her first full day working as a production assistant was the same day that she would have walked with her Clemson classmates at graduation. It was a sacrifice that would later pay off.

A decade into her career, Holt has worked in and touched many parts of television production from producing, casting and interviewing to researching and writing. In her six years with The Doctors alone, Holt worked her way up from production assistant to producer and was nominated for an Emmy along the way. She learned how to anticipate needs and research as a production assistant, how to interview people as an associate producer and how to lead a team as a producer. And her career has taken her to far-flung places like Fiji, where she was part of the competitor relations team on The World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji that helped organize the race, find competitors and manage over 350 competitors. The program is currently streaming on Amazon.

While Los Angeles and the entertainment industry can seem daunting to outsiders, Holt has found a strong community. “I’ve been fortunate to work with strong female bosses and co-workers on almost every show I’ve worked on,” she said. “Additionally, I’ve made lifelong friends starting from my internship at Entertainment Tonight, when I was still at Clemson, to my most recent job at Shark Tank. I feel so lucky to have each one of these women in my life, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without their leadership, advice and friendship.”

Like many industries, COVID-19 required some pivoting for the production world: working with limited staff, mask-wearing, and working from home on nonfilming days. Holt recently wrapped Jeopardy! National College Championship. Now her focus has shifted back to Shark Tank as they start to cast for Season 13. While there have been many applications for her degree in her producing career, Shark Tank especially is a great match for her Clemson business acumen.

The past year also brought two big personal milestones: a golden retriever puppy, Rooney, joined her family in 2020, and she tied the knot with Maxx Cohen, a graduate of the University of Southern California, at a 15-person wedding in November 2020. Cohen is executive vice president of acquisitions at Cohen Asset Management, a Los Angeles-based commercial real estate company.

Maxx and Ashley

Maxx and Ashley

The two grew up only 1 mile from each other in Los Angeles before Holt’s family moved to South Carolina, but they didn’t meet one another until spring 2016. From their first date at Jones Hollywood Italian Restaurant, Holt and Cohen discovered just how much they had in common. They enjoy cooking and learning new skills, like skiing, together.

And while they both love calling Los Angeles home, Holt looks forward to bringing Cohen to Death Valley for a home game experience. She will tell you there is nothing — in Hollywood or beyond — like Clemson on game day.