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Michelle Bonilla Interview Page 2

Michelle Bonilla shares about her career and life with Lesbian Life

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Michelle Bonilla Standing

Michelle Bonilla Standing

© ILDK Media

What are you currently working on?

I’m actually really excited. I’m about to start pre-production on a short that I wrote and then directed. It’s gay-themed about a relationship between two women that doesn’t quite work out. And it’s called Slip Away. It’s really beautiful. You’ve heard the idea that love conquers all, well in this love doesn’t conquer all. Once again, a very uplifting story.

Are you acting in it as well?

Yes. It’s a very character driven short. There are two main characters and a couple of other characters interwoven. I will be doing one of those. I haven’t quite made the decision. I feel I could do all of them. I also want to focus on the directing of it. So we’ll see.

Is this the first film that you’re writing and directing?

Yes, it is. I’ve been working on it for quite some time.

Is that something we can look forward to seeing at gay and lesbian film festivals?

Yes, and not only that but Latino film festivals. I am of Mexican heritage and I make no qualms about how prideful I am to be Mexican. It’s a very universal themed short. Everyone goes through stuff like that. It just so happens that there’s two women involved.

Tell me about your actor’s studio.

Yes, that’s how I’m contributing. I’m lucky enough to do what I’m doing. I realized that, I had to come from the ground up. I had to bumble a lot. With my business partner Nick Mize, we created Synergy Actor’s Studio. Those are for actors of all levels. It’s a Meisner based study. It’s on-camera. And it’s also about the business of the business. Anyone can come to study with us to understand how they’re coming across on camera. There’s a lot of schools out here that beat you down before they build you up. I totally don’t believe in that. Nick and I, being actors ourselves, we’re just trying to make you better. We’re doing what’s worked for us. This is our experience and it’s just sharing our experience and knowledge with them and having a supportive place to work out so they can grow and become better artists.

What kind of things are you offering?

It’s an on-going class, once a week. We work on really truthful acting. It’s about not being discouraged when you go out there. The way you do that is by hunkering in and honing your craft so when you go into an audition you leave, not with your hat between your hands, but you leave feeling empowered because you know you did a good job. You can’t control the other aspect of it. You don’t know who’s niece has to be hired because of this or that. You know that if you go in there and you rocked it because you were awesome, they have no other choice but to take notice. Maybe not for this one, but maybe the next one, but they will remember who you are because you were truthful and honest and connected. It’s by doing that over and over that your name is recognized and you’re taken seriously.

That’s what we want to encourage. Nick and I teach together, hence the synergy aspect. Nick comes from a New York theater based background and I come from television and film. We’ve combined our talents.

What about you then? How did you get your start in acting?

So many years ago, I majored in theater in college and stayed for a year and a half and then I left and decided to focus on the acting. On a whim and a prayer, I left school.

So, you weren’t learning what you wanted to in college?

I left to really get into it. I found a Meisner based class and I really started doing my grunt work. It’s a very different town now with the advent of computers. I used to get in my car at 8 am and drive and drop off my head shots to casting directors and agents.. I smile and laugh because I literally knocked on so many doors. That’s basically how I got my start. The first film I did was a film with Christopher Reeves. I had to go to an audition. They brought me to the audition right there on the set for the director and they were like “Great, put her in make-up.”

Wow!

It was the quickest thing ever. They paid my way into the union. That’s the best thing that can happen to an actor when they’re non-union.

Was that your first audition?

The first audition ever that I had was a play I did for Eric Overmyer. He is one of the creative forces behind Law and Order. He wrote a play called Dark Rapture. I auditioned for him in that play and I booked the lead and we went to Dallas Theater Center and it was the main stage production. That was the very first thing I booked. The very first film I booked was with Christopher Reeve. I had a whirlwind first for myself.

So that was a good indication that you were on your right path.

Yeah. That’s a good way of putting it.

Is there a dream role that you have that you would love to play?

I would really love to be in ensemble cast, one hour drama or light comedy. I would love to play a lawyer or a detective.

Now that The L Word is going off the air, what do you think that the next generation of lesbian shows is going to be?

Well, I’m going to say hopefully, it will be a better representation of real lesbians out there. Still beautiful, like regular TV shows that don’t have anything about being gay. How about some TV shows that are like Law and Order, but have gay characters in them? How about real story lines with characters that are gay?

I don’t think there’s one lesbian character on mainstream TV right now…

See, that’s got to change. I hope that the next generation of lesbian shows are there are more character based. I thought that Queer as Folk was a pretty good show.. It was more real. I thought that was a truer representation. Of course it is a television show. They had sex and all that stuff, but it was great. I thought the acting was superb. They really had something going there.

You don’t think The L Word holds a candle to that?

Not at the end. I’ll just put it this way, I never did connect to that show the way I did with Queer as Folk. I really got involved in the characters. The writers of that show were great. The L Word has a certain tongue-in-cheek element after a while. It was almost like they were making fun of what was really going on in West Hollywood. Who cares? I don’t think it was totally bad. I would be a hypocrite if I said I didn’t enjoy it.
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