01 Jun An Exclusive Interview with Michelle, Star of ABC’s “How to Get the Guy”
By Curt Yagi, Executive Director, Real Options for City Kids
San Francisco, CA – Michelle is not only a volunteer extraordinaire and Board Member for ROCK, but also the star of ABC’s new series “How to Get the Guy”. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Michelle to talk about life as a part of the ROCK Family, being single on Valentines Day and if she “got the guy.”
Curt Yagi: How long have you been involved with ROCK and in what capacity?
Michelle: I became involved with ROCK in 2005 when the Spinsters of San Francisco adopted it as our charity to sponsor. After hanging out with the kids, I knew I wanted to be even more involved so I decided to join the Board of Directors. While participating as a volunteer is one of my favorite things (I hope to make it to camp this year!), I’m excited about being able to help the program grow by being part of its administration. Nothing would make me happier than to see more kids involved in ROCK.
CY: What compelled you to be a part of the ROCK family?
M: A lot of people don’t know that I grew up without much money. While other kids were wearing expensive, trendy clothes to school, I rolled up in whatever we could afford. I was never one of the “cool” kids. My parents did the best they could, and worked hard to raise me and my three siblings. I was also fortunate to have a few special people who took notice of me as a kid, including people at the YMCA who provided summer camp for kids who couldn’t afford it. The neighborhood where I grew up also had a community recreation center where I could go to play games, swim and hang out in a positive environment. Because of these special people, I was able to do really amazing things with my life, including going to college and law school and becoming a successful trial lawyer. I truly believe that a tiny pebble can create great ripples. I hope someday some ROCKer remembers me as being a person who helped influence their life in a positive way.
CY: I have no doubt that there will be lots of ROCKers who will remember you. What has your experience been like?
M: It is hard to describe the immense satisfaction that I get spending time with such energetic, bright, creative kids. Every ROCKer that I have encountered is such a unique person with so much potential. This last Valentine’s Day, I didn’t have a boyfriend (that happens to me a lot during Valentines Day) and during a Saturday Skill Drills program, Isis plopped down in my lap and said: “will you be my valentine?” I thought to myself, this is all the love I need!
CY: How do you relate to the kids?
M: I think that they think I’m zany. Sometimes they have a hard time keeping up!
CY: I heard that you grew up in a trailer park in Las Vegas. Is that true and what was your childhood experience like?
M: I am one of four kids (the second oldest) and did in fact live in a trailer park. I have really wonderful, hard working parents who support me in everything I do. My Mom went back to college when I was a teenager and now is a licensed family therapist. My father is a director at his company, working his way up in his company. I believe that the human spirit is strong enough to overcome any circumstance.
CY: If you could, would you change anything about your upbringing?
M: Sure, I would have loved to have been “popular,” to have the new Nikes or stylish Guess jeans. But the really cool thing about not having a lot of money is that is that you have to work on what’s on the inside instead of relying what you are wearing on the outside. Eventually, when you are older, you realize that’s what really matters. You want to look in the mirror and see a good person.
CY: So, it seems as though you are pretty busy these days, do you have any time for yourself? If so, what do you do in your spare time?
M: I love to be busy. When I’m not busy I go stir crazy. Even on vacation, I walk everywhere, see everything. I just got back from two weeks in Spain and I was exhausted when I came home. Those are the best vacations. I guess I don’t mind being busy because the things that I spend time on are really rewarding to me, my work, my friends, ROCK.
CY: I read that you are an aspiring writer, what type of writing do you do?
M: When I was a kid I didn’t really know that I could write. One day a teacher handed me an application for a writing competition and said I should enter. I ignored the essay question for a few days, until one evening when I sat down and scribbled out an answer. I ended up winning first runner up for the state of Nevada. Never satisfied with second best, I tried again the next year and won first place for the nation! Since then, I write all the time. I write for my job, I write in a journal and I do short pieces about a lot of different topics. I also have some children’s stories and poems that I have done. Maybe I’ll let you all read some…
CY: I would love to read something of yours. Now, on to the topic I’m sure lots of people are dying to know about. You are one of the stars of ABC’s “How to Get the Guy”. What was your experience like?
M: It was a “labor of love.” Sometimes it was very difficult to juggle life and the filming of a TV show. This show didn’t whisk us away to a chateau in Paris. The producers wanted to follow our real lives. Well, real life means work, cleaning the house, picking up dry-cleaning, hanging out with friends, going to ROCK Skill Drills and sometimes dating! Ultimately, I am very proud of the show and think it will change the way people look at reality-TV. I also made three great new friends. I talk to Anne, Alissa and Kris all the time. They are wonderful women and make me laugh.
CY: How did you get selected for the series?
M: A friend of mine knew the casting people and when she heard about a “sex in the city” like show, she told them they had to call me, that I was their girl. And so they did. In fact, they called non-stop until I agreed to go in and do a test tape for the show. After that, I couldn’t get rid of them. I had serious reservations initially because I know how bad reality-TV can be. But, after I met with the Queer Eye Producers, I came to believe in the vision that they had for the show. David Metzler and David Collins are two of the coolest guys in the world. They also work with a tremendous writer, Sean Baker Carter. While I think the “love coach” aspect of the show is a fun little element to pull in viewers, I think ultimately the content– the real lives of the four women– will be the compelling part for viewers.
CY: What was it like having camera crews follow you around all the time? Did you get used to them?
M: At first it was really hard and I even had a reality-TV meltdown where I walked away completely frustrated. But then I got used to an extra 20 people being around and it got easier. I had a really nice crew and got to know them all. Most of the time I just tried to forget the camera was there. Sometimes that was hard because people would stop and stare at me. Some people even applauded once while I was on a date. I wasn’t sure if they thought I was doing a scene for a movie!
CY: How has your life changed since being a part of the series?
M: Things are very new right now, so nothing has really changed. It is kind of weird to watch commercials of myself or to see my picture in the newspaper. Everyday my friends send me articles or links that feature the show. We laugh about it all the time. There were a few negative comments already from some bloggers, and that’s kind of hard to hear. I’m still learning to tune out things strangers have to say. I have to remind myself that it’s my friends and family that matter.
CY: So, did you get the guy?
M: I got two great guys (David Metzler and David Collins) and three great girls (Anne, Alissa, and Kris). As for “the guy,” well you will just have to watch!
“How to Get the Guy,” a romantic reality series that follows the trials and tribulations of love as seen through the eyes of four young, attractive and available women who are looking for Mr. Right, premieres MONDAY, JUNE 12 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. The show is from Emmy Award-winning producers David Collins and David Metzler (“Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.”)