A. Michelle Harleston is an exceptionally busy actress. When she’s not working on set, she’s helping charitable organizations or serving our country on military reserve duty. She played a military aid in Olympus Has Fallen and has a role in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.
When did you first develop an interest in film acting?
I’ve wanted to be in the industry as far back as I can remember. Not necessarily film acting but the industry period. I was that person yelling at the screen when the woman fell down trying to run in horror films, that person mimicking people in commercials and that model walking the runway. I had an interest but never pursued it because like so many I was plagued with acne and let it become the barrier to anything that would require public interaction.
What was your first film/tv role?
My first TV role was, oh so many moons ago (I’m chuckling, thinking about it). I had met an independent producer that would film and edit local car/limousine commercials and sometimes provide the voiceovers on various projects. After speaking to him, I saw that he was a one man show trying to be the crew and the talent. I told him if he ever needed another voice please let me know. Within a week, he started calling me to do voiceovers. I would say maybe about a month later, he was scheduled to film a project where the Clarksville, TN Police Department and the Kleeman Community Center were joining together to hold a day of festivities to bring children, their parents , law officials and the center together, to support one another. Unbeknownst to me, he did not have a live reporter to talk to the participants or let the viewing audience know how the event was progressing through-out the day. Thus, my first television role was created days before the first Police Community Challenge Event held at the Kleeman Center in Clarksville, TN. Talk about jumping in head first. Every now and then, I pull out that old VHS tape and think how I had absolutely no idea what I was doing but I loved every minute doing it.
What are some of the movies/tv shows you’ve been involved in?
I’ve been featured on the television series Nashville as well as the feature film Olympus Has Fallen and many attorney commercials. My most recent projects that are currently being filmed are The Accidental President, (webisode) where I play the role of Regina, the President’s Communications Director based off the trilogy books by Dixie Swanson and the short films; Trust, where I play multiple roles as Woman and as SGT Thomas as well as Fruitcake where I play the role of Caroline. These are just a few of the projects I’ve been involved in.
Tell us about your experience in Olympus Has Fallen.
Working on the project Olympus Has Fallen was one of the most enlightening experiences I’ve ever had on a movie set. I was in the company of the incomparable talent of Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Robert Forester and Sean O’Bryan while working in the “Crisis Room”. I can’t begin to describe what it was like to be able to see firsthand these thespians working their craft. It was inspiring as well as a validation, that staying the course, working hard and never losing focus of my dream of being an accredited actor will not go in vain. Working with these amazing people for 5 days showed me, that it’s very possible to “make it” in the industry. You would have thought that it couldn’t have gotten any better than being in the presence of these fascinating people but the truth of the matter is the Director, Antuan Fuqua has left the most profound impact of working on that project.
After filming the first 3 days of filming (Wed – Fri) we had a weekend break and were due back on that ensuing Monday. Upon wrapping, after midnight, I had a scheduled flight back to Tennessee to attend a military First Sergeant Promotion Board at ten Saturday morning. Unbeknownst to me, the casting agency relayed to the Director of what I had done. Antuan personally came on set and asked to speak to me. In my 17 years of military service, I’ve never felt as appreciated as I did in that moment. To have someone take the time to truly tell me how much respect they have for the military as well as the immeasurable sacrifices that are constantly being made, as seen by me flying back to attend the Board and returning to the set to finish the scene. I will always hold Antuan’s talk close and near my heart.
Tell us about your involvement in Project 615.
Project 615 is a philanthropic apparel & screen printing company based in Nashville, TN. They give away 100% of the profits sold from their Project 615 T-shirts to world changing organizations. One of their main objectives is to help restore the homeless community of Nashville. They work side by side with the ministries in Nashville. Set Free houses 45+ homeless men and women. The money given to Set Free is used to help house and rehabilitate the lives of these men & women. They operate by the Bible verse Matthew 25:40. Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me.” I applied to model for their organization and was so impressed when I met the two young co-founders, Derek Evans & Matt Blinco, that I felt compelled to share what they are doing to as many people as I can. I am a firm believer we should help our fellow man. So my involvement is no more than sharing what these awesome young men are doing, in hopes that someone will give back as well.
What faith-based films have you been in?
My first faith based film, that my son and I both had the pleasure of being background in, was The Second Chance produced by Provident Films in Nashville, TN. The most recent (in production) where I was selected in a supporting role is The Good Book, where I played The Photographer, directed by none other than the blogger of this article Mrs. Sharon Wilharm, in which I can’t thank her enough for seeing me in her vision for the project. I’ve also played the role of Dr. Sanders in the film Man in a Box produced by DynaCore Films. Father Lucien (no, it’s not a typo) in the movie, Purpose produced by Gibson and White and I’ve also played several re-enactment roles on The 700 Club TV show produced by the Christian Broadcast Network.
What has been your favorite film/tv role?
To date, my favorite film role has been the character Caroline in the short film Fruitcake. Since I am a mother, I believe having that distinct motherly feeling of always wanting to fix situations in which, it’s not our place, is a rather challenging feat. Caroline is a strong woman that tells it like it is because sometimes people just need to hear what is truly going on. I had to possess restraint from being too motherly with this character; it would have been a disservice of how this role was intended to be portrayed.
What are your acting goals?
When I graduated from John Casablanca Modeling and Career Center in April 2010, I set a goal to walk The Red Carpet because of landing a role that would put me there, within 3 to 5 years. Well, my minimum of 3 years has passed but I am still working very hard to achieve my goal before the end of my set time frame. I feel that I have a gift that deserves to be shared with the world. So, even if my time frame comes and goes I will still share the tools God gave me to help others to escape into the world I may be helping to create, temporarily.