Ashley Hinshaw was born in La Porte, Indiana to Chris and Craig Hinshaw. Since the age of nine, she auditioned and participated in several children's plays and youth theatre. Hinshaw began modeling in her local hometown pageant (Miss Maple City Pageant and Talent Competition) at the age of 13, where she won on beauty and photogenic for 13- to 16-year-olds and talent for 8- to 14-year-olds. In 2003 Hinshaw won third in the Queen's Court competition and second in photogenic competition in the Miss Indiana American Junior Teen Pageant. Ashley also won state finalist application process; speech; prettiest smile; and recommending the most people to participate in the pageant next year and receiving the most recommendations from competitors for her to participate again next year. Hinshaw then went on to participate in the National Miss American Coed Pageant for the Miss American Junior Teen category at the age of 14. When she was 16, Ashley Hinshaw moved to New York for her modeling career.
Ashley Hinshaw first started modeling in pageants in 2002, where she participated in the Miss Indiana Junior Teen competition. As a model, Hinshaw has appeared in an advertising campaign for Abercrombie & Fitch. Her experience as a model led to her judging a beauty pageant on the MTV reality TV series Made in 2008. A year later Hinshaw pursued an acting career and landed a guest stint on The CW Teen Drama series Gossip Girl as herself. Hinshaw auditioned for a role in the proposed spin-off series to Gossip Girl, Valley Girls which The CW did not pick up. Hinshaw has since appeared in guest roles on Fringe and The Glades.
In June 2010, Hinshaw was confirmed to star in the high school comedy film LOL, an American remake of the 2008 French film LOL (Laughing Out Loud). Hinshaw portrays the role of Emily, best friend to the film's lead, played by Miley Cyrus. Production began in August 2010 in Paris and Grosse Pointe. The film was released in May 2012 on a limited release in the United States. The film received mixed reviews and was a financial disaster.
In November 2010, Hinshaw was announced as a star in the independent thriller film Rites of Passage alongside Christian Slater. In the film, an anthropology student takes his classmates to his family ranch, where his brother lives in a haze of drugs, guilt, and Chumash Indian rituals. The film was released straight to DVD on 16 October 2012.
In May 2011, Hinshaw was cast as the lead in the independent drama film About Cherry alongside Heather Graham, James Franco and Dev Patel. Hinshaw portrays Angelina, a troubled young woman who comes to San Francisco and joins the porn industry. Filming began in July 2011. The film premiered at the 2012 Berlin International Film Festival.
In 2011, Hinshaw joined the cast of the superhero film Chronicle (2012). She played Casey Letter, a blogger who regularly carries her camera with her.
Hinshaw has continued in roles on television and independent film, and appeared in six of the ten episodes of the 2016 Crackle web series StartUp.
Hinshaw started dating actor Topher Grace in January 2014, and they became engaged in January 2015. On May 29, 2016, Grace and Hinshaw married near Santa Barbara, California. On August 1, 2017, Hinshaw confirmed that she and Grace are expecting their first child.