Christi Given interviews actress and singer AJ Michalka, for the Christian film released October 4, 2013 in theatres with Chris Tomlin, Jamie Grace and more!
I personally had the privilege of interviewing not only my cousin, but also actress/singer AJ Michalka on her latest project, “Grace Unplugged.” The film stars many well- known actors such as James Denton, Kevin Pollack, Christian singer Jamie Grace, and worship leader Chris Tomlin!
CG: Tell me about Graces’ character you play and a little about her backstory:
AJ: “My character Grace comes from a small town, and her parents have had a major influence on her growing up…Grace begins to feel stifled by her Father her who was a rock star in the 80s. (Her Dad Johnny Trey in the film)… wants to raise his family in the south after leaving the entertainment industry. Her Dad ends up worship leading, so Grace has always been around that lifestyle.
Grace kind of takes advantage of doing music on her own and leaves everything to go to Hollywood. She abandons everything for the industry-which, I think, says a lot about the industry, I think there’s a lot of people who have done that, or who are willing to do that for the price of fame, and ends up really realizing, its not all that it is cracked up to be. Family and God is so number 1, but she kind of has to learn that the hard way, which is unfortunate.
CG: What is Grace’s dilemma in the film?
AJ: Her struggle is that she hasn’t been able to apply her music any where else outside the church and what her Dad makes her play…she feels like she is very much under the wing of her Dad. Even though he is the inspiration for a lot of her musical interests, he is also the reason she hasn’t had any time to focus on music of her own.
She feels like, growing up, she is kind of forced into one sound. Grace ends up going her own way and Grace kind of perks up and sees there’s an opportunity there to meet with this manager who used to represent her Dad (“Mossy” Mostin).
CG: What is the message or theme of ‘Grace Unplugged’?
AJ: The main theme of the film is to surround yourself with people who truly have your best interest at heart. I think you can get caught up in whatever you do, it doesn’t have to be the entertainment industry, it can be the work force or whatever. You can surround yourself with people who are not necessarily looking out for you from a godly perspective, but want you to make money, or are using you for a certain thing, or have a certain motive that isn’t pure. Its really about surrounding yourself with fellow Christians and putting God first- I think that is the biggest part of this story.
CG: Did you feel you related to the film at all since you sing and are in the industry as well as relate to Grace’s faith??
AJ: I think everyone goes through that stage where they just want to break out of their shell. It really has to happen naturally, you know as women we are to progress in a way that is beautiful and kind of open up like a flower, instead of being destructive or wanting to prove to people we’re older, more mature or powerful. Really God has a natural progression for it, people don’t really realize then they end up pushing the envelope themselves.
I can relate in the way, my sister Aly and I have been under the umbrella of great companies like Disney and Hollywood Records, which has been an amazing part of our lives and a huge part of our career, but we also wanted to break out as musicians, (into adulthood) and making records as women. I can kind of relate to Grace in the way in just being in the church and her wanting to get her music out there to the masses.
CG: Who were most surprised to work with? I would have to say Jamie Grace—I had known of her, and was aware of who she was… but the producers spoke really highly of her. It was funny because I knew that we were both Christian girls and would come together and it would be like this sister bond immediately but I didn’t know how close we would get. I consider her a dear friend now, which is SUCH a blessing!
AJ: It was pretty cool meeting other Christian women (on set) who have the same morals, it’s really neat to connect on that level. I don’t have that many saved friends in the industry, just because I think it’s hard to find. So I think I was not necessarily surprised by it, but really blessed by it!
CG: Funny I was going to ask about Jamie Grace-Awesome!!
CG: How was it working with Chris Tomlin? (He is such an amazing worship leader and songwriter!):
AJ: He really is amazing…I think in an interview or on stage, is really is- who he is- in real life. No masks at all. He is so humble, so down to earth, and just really kind.
As soon as I sat down with him for the scene backstage, when we’re getting ready for our big show-I just saw that there was no facade there (being really big in the Christian music industry) …he is really genuine.
CG: Why did you initially choose to work on the film?
AJ: I have this thing when I read the script that if I have this feeling that the script isn’t really appropriate or right for me morally, then I am pretty much straight forward with my team about not wanting to do it. But for this particular project, I just immediately felt connected and a dear friend of mine who goes to the same church as me told me that they felt there was a role in there for me, and told me about the film, that it would speak to a lot of young girls… I contacted my agency and the next day got the script for “Grace Unplugged”. I ended up just falling in love with it!
AJ mentions also that the director was very godly-like a camp counselor/Pastor and the cast and people were all so nice to work with!
CG: We can go to graceunplugged.com for more info correct?
AJ: Yes and @gracemovie for Twitter!!!
CG: Last, but not least, you and your sister Aly are working on some of your own music for 78 Violet, when can we expect to hear some new material—-any releases coming up? (Any single or album titles we can look for?)
AJ: We have been working since January on our new single, called ‘HotHouse’ (release date July 8) and just had a show at The Roxy. It was our first time playing in 5 years so it was pretty cool.
Our next show is at Gramercy in New York.
July13 for Switchfoot. (Presented by Hurley for the Annual Bro-Am. Silent Auction proceeds go to local at risk youth in San Diego.)
CG: What does 78 Violet mean?
AJ: Violet, or the color purple is significant to us because we always have liked that color, its pure and serene. Its kind of how Aly and I want to come off.
78 is meaningful because numbers have always meaned a lot to us. Aly’s lucky number is the #7, also 78 together means platinum and or non-corrodible. We felt like as sisters too our relationship as sisters is non-corrodible.
Tweet @78violet at their Official Twitter page for exclusive updates as well!