Ashley Fiolek loves being a pioneer. Not only has she opened opportunities for female motocross racers but she is also a positive influence for the deaf community.
Fiolek is a three-time AMA Women's Motocross Champion, a two-time X Games gold medalist and the first female motocross racer to receive full support from a factory race team.
Although a successful WMX title defense is looking grim after suffering injuries from a crash during a race June 2 in Lakewood, Colo., 2012 has still been a great year, one with more unexpected opportunities and breakthroughs. In April, she was profiled in a feature length article in Vogue magazine and this week she heads to California where she will appear on Conan O'Brien's TBS late night talk show.
The "Conan" appearance is Tuesday and her father, Jim, will appear with her for interpretation. She will also begin taping for her four-episode appearance on ABC Family's scripted drama "Switched at Birth" where she will play Robin Swiller, a motocross racer who is the love interest of a leading character.
ESPN.com conducted the following interview with Ashley through e-mail messages.
ESPN.com: You're acting in a scripted drama and also appearing on a talk show; are these opportunities considered a "win" in the deaf community?
Fiolek: Yeah, this is a huge opportunity for me and the motorcycling community, for sure. Marlee Matlin is on the show, she is a great actress so I am sure they are proud of her. I am for sure!
What kind of opportunities do you hope to open for other deaf youth and adults?
For the deaf community I hope they see in me someone who works hard and believes in herself and anything is possible. Whether it is racing motorcycles, being an author, an actor, if you're willing to work hard, always believe in yourself, anything is possible.
You're 21 now. How do you feel you've done as a role model and what do you still hope to accomplish? What message do you still want to send?
I think it's awesome to be a role model because I've looked up to many people when I was younger and still do. I would love to win more races and win more X Games gold medals. Never give up and anything is possible! Work hard and the dream will come true!
How did the opportunity to appear on "Conan" happen and have you ever been on a talk show?
Not sure, I think ESPN called my dad and asked if I would go on the "Conan" show. No, I have never been on a talk show so this should be exciting! Something new and different. I think it will be fun.
What do you think Conan will ask you? What would you like him to ask you?
Maybe about my career and being deaf? I am not sure :) Hmmmm … What's my type for guys because it has been tough luck for me! Ha Ha!
Do you have any jokes you want to tell him?
How come you want me to be on your show since I'm deaf? ;) Kidding!
Is Robin Swiller's personality anything like yours?
It is definitely a role I am well suited for. Tune in to the show to see how it all turns out with my character!
Have any more acting opportunities opened up for you?
No, not yet but I was in the Red Bull commercial last year ... maybe it is a new career for me!
You had a big crash at Thunder Valley and then missed the following race. How are you feeling now and are you on track to return to racing at X Games?
Yeah, I'm really bummed about the crash. I am feeling all right, trying to get better every day, just taking it day by day. I guess the hospital in Colorado told me that I had a concussion and I had a crack in my back from a previous bad crash at my trainer's track about two months ago. I just found that out. Crazy, but I'm glad I'm OK! I'm not allowed to ride yet but I am trying everything to get back … I won't give up! Ha ha.
Are you doing any different preparations for X Games than you've done in the past?
I am just trying everything to get back on the track. I just want to have fun out there and be safe!