Michelle Elizabeth O’shea, is a model and film actress from the city of Los Angeles, has worked on films like (The Aspen Project) and has been walking in New York Fashion Week, Dubai and her hometown Los Angeles for designers like Andre Soriano. We had an interview with Elizabeth where she tells us about her development as an artist and as a person.
- Tell us how your interest in being a film actress arises, is it a passion that you awoke in your childhood or is it something you discovered in your adolescent and adult stage?
Growing up in an artistic family was definitely a big influence on me. I knew I loved performing from a very early age. I am so grateful that my family supported my affinity for theater and dance. I took many classes growing up. To be perfectly honest though, I struggled with a lot of insecurity and self doubt even in class. Los Angeles (my home town) is a place that does not innately leave much room for doing something just because you love it. There is an overwhelming pressure to be the best, and as a child and a young adult I let the fear of not being good enough hold me back from exploring and testing the limits of my abilities until I got older; so I jumped in and out of theater, musical theater, and film acting with the ebb and flow of my life. However, I feel like many artists struggle through this imposter syndrome, and that that vulnerability is what brings truth and humanity to our art. Now that I am older I have found a freedom in knowing that getting lost in what brings you joy is the most important factor in life and art. If you’re excited about it, everyone else will be too- bliss is powerful.
- I read that you would like to work as an action and adventure actress because they are your favorite genres, but that you generally like to cover other genres of cinema; What are the films that have influenced you the most from those genres?
Fifth Element with Mila Jovovich, Chris Tucker, Gary Oldman, and Bruce Willis is one of my all time favorites. Mila actually created her own language for the film which I find so inspiring and did many of the stunts herself. It would be a dream to be able to portray such a strong yet vulnerable character like she did. I try my best to be emotionally generous with my characters and fellow actors. I believe this willingness is why I am often cast in dramas with intense unexpected emotional transitions. When filming The Aspen Project with Director Chino Maurice, my character Kimberly starts out as a very body confident, stand-offish, attention addict heading to rehab for drug addiction- very Girl Interrupted meets A Cabin in the Woods. What I loved so much about this film was that we got to explore where our addictive behaviours came from- trauma begets addiction not the other way around. I was asked to have a complete breakdown at one point following the death of a fellow rehab member and really got to explore Kimberly’s childhood to understand what shaped her as a person and find her emotional arcs.
- Traveling through other cities leaving the place of origin makes people feel confident when making decisions; Somehow this is your story, in what way do you feel that having been in Alaska and the Caribbean has been important to strengthen your professional decisions in the film industry?
This is a truly insightful question. When I left for Alaska I told my friends and family it was for a job- to find some financial stability and independence working in fine jewelry sales. What I didn’t know at the time was that the experience of leaving everyone and everything I knew behind would teach me more about myself and the emotional tools I lacked growing up in a dysfunctional home than about anything else. Everytime I left LA for Alaska; Puerto Rico, and the British Virgin Islands it felt like I was finally the Leading Lady of my own story. I think we all deserve that indulgence; the time to be able to advocate for ourselves and say “I am the main character of my own life” is so enlightening and full of self discovery. Living for other people without learning how to enjoy being yourself and lead a fulfilling life leaves so many of us feeling empty, resentful, and discontent. I think women suffer from this so often because many of us grow up as emotional sometimes even physical caretakers of our loved ones and never learn otherwise unless we seek out a completely new way of living. Having had the experiences and struggles of traveling gave me the confidence/ tools I needed to come home and face the challenges of this industry. Travelling makes people more dynamic and interesting, and thus more engaging on screen.
- You’ve been in commercials for products like, L’Oreal Paris and you’ve walked the fashion week in Los Angeles for designers like Andre Soriano, these are great achievements for someone starting in the media and art industry. Which of these three experiences has generated the most gratitude in your beginning as an actress and model?
Thank you! Of the three I would have to say the people I met at LA Fashion Week opened more doors for me in my career than anything else, especially Stevie Boi Designer of @SBShades and Singer/Songwriter Eya @EverythingEya. I was so grateful to be able to walk in New York and Dubai Fashion Week and later appear in magazines like Harper’s Bazaar and Elle because of the friends I made in the fashion industry. I honestly never thought any of this was possible until it was happening. I’m 5’6″ and was 25 at the time in an industry that strictly enforced a 5’9″ height requirement and age bias. I doubted myself even as I was living it, but just kept showing up and working to be the best version of me I could. I hope anyone reading this is able to walk away with the knowledge that our dreams are as strong as our resolve to achieve them. Self doubt is human, don’t let it stop you. We deserve our dreams.
- You like to play characters that are not completely sane, why do you think that those kinds of personalities that border on madness and genius generate appeal to society in general? What actors have influenced you with performances that mix genius and madness?
Origin stories are some of my absolute favorites in film. Especially when an audience is struck with an unthinkable action committed by a seemingly insane character initially. The audience then gets to experience the events leading up to the action and truly understand who this character is and how they came to be the way they are. I think we all have origin stories. If we take the time to delve into the lives of each person we come into conflict with I believe most often we can find compassion and understanding for their character. I am a Sci-Fi nerd and loved Firefly by Director Joss Whedon. Every actor on that show was portrayed so expertly. Summer Glau’s portrayal of River influences me heavily when I play characters who struggle with madness and genius because I find innocence marred with reality’s complication resonates. Helena Bonham Carter is a phenomenally entertaining actress who also plays these characters expertly- I not so secretly hope I get more and more like her in my career.
- Do you like to read about art, go to theaters, see fashion magazines and movies? How do you maintain the stimulation of your artistic passions to keep up to date with what is happening around the world of entertainment?
I love theater. My first Broadway experience was Phantom of the Opera with my Mom. I was so enchanted. I adore the theater, wandering around museums like a child lost in a labyrinth of artistry, reading poetry, and watching movies at home. I’m also a huge audio book nerd. I must have listened to at least 12 books (some multiple times) since the pandemic started. Knowing how you learn best and tailoring your study approach appropriately can make a huge difference in retention and stimulation.
- You dream of being at some point a cultural icon in your city and your country, which would be the first thing you would do (8) when you get to be a consecrated artist, would you like to create a school for actors, you would give your image and your voice to a feminist cause in favor of recognitions of the equal rights of women, what do you have in mind if your dream comes true in the coming years?
I went through some very intense negotiation training a few years back to be able to understand the different ways starry-eyed artists like myself get taken advantage of in the industry. There are so many scams, bad contracts, unspoken fopahs, and energy sucking phonies that prey on the dreams of innocent- often desperate artists. I am honestly sick of it and thus have a series of downloadable videos in the works to identify everything from common scams to subtle effective manipulation tactics that predators employ. Artists are what make Hollywood magical. My goal is to preserve their unique gifts by giving them industry standard SAG/AFTRA approved knowledge of the business, tools to protect themselves from the mental/emotional drain that can come from bad classes and false promises, and also techniques to negotiate/become their own best advocate. I would like to offer these videos for free because performance artists give their souls to the craft and deserve to be treated with the same generosity of spirit.
I will always advocate for women. Feminism has a complex sometimes divisive history and I believe it is important to educate ourselves on where it started and how prejudice has affected the community. Like any movement it is made of people; there will always be extremists and outliers that do not represent the whole. Frequently people utilize The Straw Man fallacy to discredit Feminism- disseminating a false narrative. I look forward to doing my part in compassionately rebranding the movement. We are not equal until we are all equal. Every woman is our sister, not just the ones who look like us.
- What are the movies that have moved you in the last 2 years, what is your favorite actor and actress, what is the soundtrack of your life?
I really enjoyed the unconventional and humorous perspective of Jojo the Rabbit. Self Made was a Netflixs show not a movie but I absolutely love Octavia Spencer and she was inspiring in it. Growing up watching Star Trek, Kate Mulgrew was such an inspiration, and I will watch anything with Sir. Patrick Stewart in it. I don’t know about the soundtrack to my life… but I would definitely want ZZ Ward to sing it.
- If you had the power to choose an Oscar award for some Hollywood celebrity, who would you give the award to and why?
Nicole Kidman, Moulin Rouge in 2001. It was such an original film. There wasn’t a moment I was not completely enraptured by and in love with her character.
- Describe these three characters in one word:
Jack Black) Twinkle
Meryl Streep) Determined
Jim Carrey) Aberrational
- ¿With which actor would you like to work with in a movie?
Either James McAvoy- he truly scares and inspires me, or Tina Fey- I admire her work and personal brand so much; I’m a huge fan.
- Recommend us a song, a movie and a book that has been important in your formation as a person and an artist.
Muddy Waters by LP- That song makes me vibrate. Emperor’s New Groove – some of the most amazing voice talents in one movie- they inspired me to get into voice acting (I love Eartha Kitt)! Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts is a book I cannot recommend highly enough. The audiobook version read by Humphrey Bower is sensational! This extraordinary story is based on true life events and is brimming with life lessons. The characters are well rounded and beautifully written; full of pure joy, sorrow, unimaginable struggle, and raw humanity. It is my favorite book.
- The elections are approaching in the United States, what do you think of the candidates, will you vote for any of them?
I voted. I abhor the binary us vs them narrative that is being propagated. I am tired of hearing “Well at least he’s not ___”- fill in the blank. We deserve better than the least, and I don’t know how long it will take for us to change the system. The electoral college, social media bubbles, and lack of unbiased trustworthy sources make our politics overly complicated and a self perpetuating problem in my opinion.
- What advice would you give to other people who have this same dream?
“Don’t waste time trying to change into something that makes you likeable, you will only end up disliking yourself. Write your (truth), paint it, film it, dance it, lyricize it, poeticize it. You don’t have to be good, just honest.” -K. Karbo. To make a magnet, all you have to do is encourage the magnetic domains in a piece of metal to point in the same direction. Point your honesty and passion in the same direction and you become the magnet. When you’re magnetic good is irrelevant, because the audience can’t take their eyes off you.