Meet the US' new first daughter Ashley Biden, a social activist who’s not just chasing the spotlight

Lynn Farah, South China Morning Post

Posted at Nov 25 2020 01:31 PM

The new and soon-to-be-former first ladies of the US, Jill Biden and Melania Trump, aren’t the only ones with a stark contrast between them. Ashley Biden might be the new first daughter, but you can rest assured that she won’t be following in the footsteps of her predecessor, Ivanka Trump. 

Ashley, an activist with a passion for animals and criminal justice reform, is not likely to just sit back and enjoy the spotlight. She has openly declared that, even though her dad is the new leader of the so-called free world, she will continue to voice her opinions on her passion projects.

Here’s everything you need to know about the new first daughter.

She once worked at a pizza parlour

Born in 1981, Ashley majored in cultural anthropology at New Orleans’ Tulane University. Unlike Ivanka, who spent time modelling and hitting the New York City social scene, Ashley worked at a pizza parlour while working out what she wanted to do in life after graduation.

She’s inspired by her father

Much like with his other children – including the controversy-courting black sheep of the family, Hunter – president-elect Joe Biden clearly shares a close relationship with his daughter. That much was clear from his political campaign. Ashley accompanied her father on the campaign trail, speaking about how he inspired her life choices. She explained that he encouraged her to voice her opinions when she knew something was wrong, which she has called a guiding principle in her life.

She’s a staunch activist

It was her father who motivated her to become an activist. In 2014, she was made executive director at the Delaware Center for Justice, an organisation that focuses on criminal justice reform. When her stepbrother, Beau, died of brain cancer in 2015, her mum Jill said that Ashley made it her mission to follow his footsteps and fight for reform.

She’s not here for the attention

Despite having a political figure for a father, Ashley has historically eschewed the public spotlight. She’s still determined to keep aspects of her life out of the public eye even as Joe Biden is poised to enter the White House next January. Her Instagram account remains private and she rarely attends public events, opting instead to focus on causes that can make a difference.

She’s had a drug scandal or two

But even though she prefers to keep her private life under wraps, that doesn’t mean Ashley hasn’t seen her fair share of scandal. Back in 2009, when her dad was vice-president to Barack Obama, one of her friends reportedly tried to sell video footage of her allegedly snorting cocaine, asking a whopping US$2 million for 43 minutes of footage. The video didn’t sell, but the US media still picked up the story. The New York Post, after reviewing 90 seconds of the video, reported that although the woman who was filmed resembled Ashley, it couldn’t be concluded that it was definitely her.

This wasn’t the first time Ashley ran into trouble due to drugs, either. In 1999, she was arrested for possession of marijuana, although there was no conviction recorded for the incident. A few years later, there were also reports that she was arrested for officer obstruction.

She’s a dancing queen

Ashley almost outshone her dad during his first speech as president-elect with her dance moves. Footage of the first daughter breaking it down on the dance floor while her dad was speaking quickly went viral.