PI Girls, this week is a very special edition of Girl to Girl Talk. I had the privilege of interviewing my cousin, actress/singer AJ Michalka, about her latest project, the upcoming movie Grace Unplugged. The film stars many well-known actors, Christian singer Jamie Grace and worship leader Chris Tomlin!
CG: Tell me about your character (Grace) 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, who was a rock star in the ’80s. [Her dad] wants to raise his family in the South after leaving the entertainment industry. He ends up worship leading, so Grace has always been around that lifestyle.
Grace 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 it’s not all that it is cracked up to be. Family and God is so No. 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 anywhere 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 kind of perks up and sees there’s an opportunity there to meet with this manager who used to represent her Dad.
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 workforce 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, and then they end up pushing the envelope themselves.
CG: Who were you most surprised to work with?
AJ: 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!
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, it really is who he is in real life. No masks at all. He is so humble, so down-to-earth, and just really kind.
CG: Why did you initially choose to work on the film?
AJ: 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!
CG: We can go to www.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 your duo, 78violet. When can we expect to hear some new material–any releases coming up?
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 five years, so it was pretty cool. Our next show is at Gramercy in New York.Also, on July 13 we opened for Switchfoot with Hurley.
CG: What does 78violet mean?
AJ: Violet, or the color purple, is significant to us because we always have liked that color. It’s pure and serene. It’s kind of how Aly and I want to come off. 78 is meaningful because numbers have always meant 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 is non-corrodible.
Tweet @78violet for exclusive updates as well!
PI girls, will you be seeing the film Grace Unplugged when it’s released in October? Are you excited to see AJ, Chris Tomlin and Jamie Grace on the big screen? Comment below!
[Image: Courtesy of Christi Given]