AJ Michalka has been in the spotlight since she was eleven years old, but her newest role in Secretariat might be her most exciting one yet! J-14 chatted with the star about her new movie, her experience with the Chenery family (who the movie is based on), and her big sis Aly!
J-14: Could you tell us a little about Secretariat?
AJ Michalka: I think for me the story is so incredible. This is a racehorse that came in as an underdog and became one of the greatest athletes of our time. From 1969 to 1973, was a time where the Chenery family was struggling a little bit. Kenny was off taking care of the horse and getting him ready for racing and it really tested their strength as a family. They ended up getting through it, and they had an incredible racehorse to just be honored by. It was an incredible racing story and the horse ended up winning the Triple Crown in record time in 1973 and he is still considered one of the greatest racing horses of all time. It's really neat, but the cool thing about it is that the movie is not just about the racing horse but the family behind it and the connection and relationship the family has with each other, which is really beautiful. It is also a beautiful family movie not just a racing story.
J-14: What is your character like?
AJ: I love my character. I play the second oldest daughter of the Chenery family. Kate is really fun she has a really great relationship with her mom and they're very much alike. When I got to know the real Kate and Penny, I saw how much alike they were and it reminded me of my mom and I. They're both really strong women who have been through a lot together. Kate is just a free-spirited woman and when she was younger she was the same away. She kind of just goes for the gold, whatever she is passionate about she goes for, and that is how I am in real life.
J-14: How are you like your character in real life?
AJ: I am like her in the sense that, no necessarily the hippy stuff she went through later in life, but definitely the side where she is very outgoing, fierce, free-spirited, vivacious and really just passionate about what she loves. That's me, I look at something and I'm a go-getter. If there is something I'm into I'm in 200% and that's like Kate.
J-14: What was it like meeting the real life family behind the story?
AJ: It was amazing. I was able to sit down and watch old racing footage with the Chenery family and talk to Kate about what she was like when she was younger and I would take notes. I mean it's really cool, not everyone can say they can meet the person they are going to portray in a film. The studying we did, me and Diane [Lane] and a few other people, was pretty cool because that's not necessary normal in this business.
J-14: You and your sister Aly used to do a lot together and now you're moving apart. Is that a conscious decision or is it just part of growing up and spreading your wings?
AJ: We always knew that theatrically we would do most of it separately. We are open to doing films together in the future if we're really passionate about doing it as a team. Music is something that has always been both of us as one. We both write together and perform together. That has always been something that we consciously knew. We knew that we wanted to be a band and do music together but when it comes to acting, it was just kind of natural to separate a little bit. Aly booked a show (Hellcats) and off she went to Canada. I am so happy for her, the show is doing really well and it's amazing. I'm really proud of her with Easy A out and The Roommate coming out. We have just been able to really work on our skills, not just together, but separately which I think is really important. As sisters it's greats to do a lot together, but you also want to have the freedom and ability to know that you can function the same way alone as you can together. We're still super close and we see each other as much as we can even though Aly lives in Canada now part-time. The music is not going away, it is just set-aside right now with so much acting going on. Our fans are being so patient, but we just need to make the right record and tour that record because that's what we were born to do. We love it, but we're just focused on the acting.
Photo: Courtesy of Walt Disney Films