20 Questions With Michele Boyd

Michele BoydIn the past I’ve brought you some of the Hunter Blogging Elite (BigRedKitty, Lassirra, Pike), I branched out and we talked about being a Priest with Matticus from WoW Insider and World of Matticus, and now I’m bringing you a true star.  Maybe not a traditional “WoW” star, but a star nonetheless.  I’m truly honored to introduce you to Michele Boyd.

For those of you that might be thinking who is Michele Boyd or are looking at her picture and going.. she seems so familiar but just can’t place her.  Well let me help you out on that.  Michelle is currently one of the stars Discovery Channel’s Machines of Malice. And if you don’t know her from that you might recognize her from that little known web show called The Guild.  Yep, that’s right, Michele agreed to sit down and do a 20 Questions for The Hunting Lodge (I know what your thinking, and the answer is NO! I didn’t make this up.  No!I didn’t kidnap her and make her do this.)

I met Michele while on Twitter and decided what would it hurt, I’ll just send a tweet asking if she’d be interested in being a featured guest at the Lodge for a 20 Questions post.  I honestly didn’t expect an answer back, much less a yes.  And let me tell you, unlike many other Hollywood stars, Michele couldn’t be more real and down to earth.  It was an extreme pleasure working with her on this interview.

So here’s a little background on Michele for you.  Originally from Gainsville, Florida.  Since her father was in the Navy she moved around alot, and has lived in both the US as well as Japan.   And she’s not just another pretty face, she graduated from UC Davis with a B.S. Degree in  a degree in Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior (and you thought you were smart).   Add to that being extremely athletic doing everything from snowboarding, horseback riding, to Hapkido, she’ll kick your butt and is able to explain exactly how your going to feel while she does it.

Don’t believe me?  Then you REALLY have to watch her on Machines of Malice or The Guild trust me.

Well, I guess I’ve been enough of a fanboi here, so let me just get on with the 20 Questions.


Michele Boyd1. Forgive me, but I have to ask. How does one graduate with degrees in Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, go on to study Behavior at Harvard Medical School and then transition to acting? Was that planned or did it just happen?

Lol, I get this question a lot. More often, I get that look of ‘Huh??’ Both of those are fun ;) I originally wanted to do field research with animal behavior. I think my dream job would’ve been to head to Africa to study large predators; lions, hyenas, etc. Primarily, I was interested in what makes someone tick; What in your head makes you behave the way you do. So that’s where the neuroscience aspect of the major came in. I always find it funny that people are so surprised at the change of profession, because to me the fields aren’t that dissimilar. Both are involved in figuring out human behavior and motivation, which is probably why I love both.

I sort of fell into working with primates (and I’m not being euphemistic, I really did work with monkeys for the first few years out of college). But really, the transition to acting was primarily because I looked around and realized the people I was working for and with just didn’t seem happy. We were locked in a lab all day long, and while everyone seemed very driven and ambitious, most also seemed inherently unhappy. About that same time a friend of mine needed some help with some student films at Emerson University (in Boston), so it all snowballed from there.

2. Was this a difficult situation? I mean, if I told my parents, “I know I could go on and be a doctor, but you know what? I’ve decided to go into acting instead.” My mom would have fainted, my dad swell up turn red then give me the ‘you’re wasting you potential away talk’”. But somehow I get the idea your situation was different. Was it?

Hah! My parents are amazing. While, yeah, I could sense a little hesitation on their part about the switch from Harvard Med to Hollywood, they couldn’t say I hadn’t tried. And the idea was that I was going to try acting while I could, and if I didn’t enjoy it I would go back to science and try to enter grad school. But needless to say, I’ve never regretted the decision ? Still, they were pretty happy about the ‘Machines of Malice’ job. Real money was coming in as a direct result of my college education! Mostly, they want me to be happy. All sides of my family have been nothing but supportive. Or at least, if they’re not, they keep it to themselves ;)

3. You lived in Boston while studying acting in New York. That had to be a bear of a commute. But at the same time I would guess it must be a great source of experiences to draw upon for different roles.

I practically lived on the Chinatown bus for a while. Best thing ever. $10 each way to NYC from Boston, and it left just about every hour. I got very good at sleeping on the bus; just bring your iPod and a hat to put over my eyes and I got to take a four and a half hour long nap ;) Plus, I never needed to worry about parking once I got to NYC!

Machines of Malice
4. So, you’re on Machines of Malice on The Discovery Channel. How did that role come about?

I was cast in a pilot called ‘Dying to Know’ for the History Channel which was somewhat similar to Machines of Malice except the idea was that we would focus on 2-3 methods of execution every episode and really try to test them out the best we could. Think Machines of Malice crossed with Mythbusters. So we would do stuff like ‘If you die by guillotine, how long after your head is cut off do you lose consciousness?’ And we’d reference past studies and test it out with facsimiles of human physiology and a life-sized guillotine. I loved doing it; the team consisted of myself, a medical ER doctor, an engineer and a special effects guy. Sadly, it wasn’t picked up. But when the same crew signed on to do Machines of Malice, they called me up and I was happy to oblige.

5. I have to admit, if the machines weren’t scary enough, you do a good job at explaining the horrors behind them. Out of all of the machines you’ve highlighted on the show, what did any surprise you in any way? Why was that?

I think the biggest surprise is how many machines were designed specifically for scaring the hell out of you. So many of them weren’t there for quick and easy death, it was really just a machine built purely for satisfying the twisted desire to torture people. Makes me damn glad I was born in this century!!

6. Can you share anything about the upcoming season for those interested?

Hee. Well, I know Felicia is in the process of writing Season 3. She has so much on her plate it’s just amazing to me she keeps it all together. I do know Riley will be back and her interlude with Zaboo from the last episode is going to be a main factor. I do know Felicia was a bit surprised with the reaction to the whole FPS vs RPG gamers dynamic, so I think she’s going to explore that a bit as well.

Machines of Malice7. Now your most recent role (at least I’m familiar with) is on the web comedy series “The Guild” starring and written by Felicia Day. How did that come about?

While I hadn’t seen The Guild before I got the audition (whereupon I sped through all of Season 1 on YouTube), I knew of Felicia from Dr. Horrible and had a basic knowledge of the series. So when I saw the breakdown come out for the project, I told my agent to submit me with a big note about how huge a geek I was in hopes I’d get called in. And it worked!

8. On “The Guild” your character, Riley, plays FPS and is a Ranked Halo, can we assume there’s some gaming in your personal background?

Yes, definitely. I lost a good couple years to both World of Warcraft and before that, a text-based MUD called Avalon. I’ve since branched out a bit beyond the PC games to Xbox. I love Gears of War and Left 4 Dead right now.

9. Did you have any concerns about joining what seems to be such a tight group?

Just based on the character description, I figured I was going to be something of an antagonist, so if there was any tension, it could just feed the character! But really, I was a bit nervous to be joining a show with such a die-hard fan base. It’s a little intimidating knowing everything you do is going to be dissected by a messageboard somewhere! But honestly, everyone on set was extremely nice right off the bat and very welcoming. It’s been awesome.

10. Riley is Wade’s roommate on the show, and at first was excited about meeting Codex a fellow female gamer, only to find out she’s into MMO’s and not FPS. This seems to set up the possibility of more of Riley in future episodes. Can you give us any hints about Season 3?

Oh I think I answered this in question 6. Oops. ;) Besides Riley, there’s going to have to be a ton of tension-resolving between all the Guildies! I mean, Tink lost her character! Or did she… ;) I can’t wait to see how it’s all going to play out.

11. Are you surprised at all about the fanaticism that is out there for the show and the games they portray? Has any of it taken you by surprise?

I just think it’s great that something that is only available on such a new medium has such an amazing fanbase. I’m used to seeing this level of devotion to shows like ‘X-Files’ or ‘Lost’, but to have the same sort of response to a show you watch for 10 minutes every week is just tremendous. The only thing that’s surprised me is the random messages I get from friends I haven’t talked to in years and who I would never think would watch a show about gaming! That’s always really fun.

12. In you opinion what makes gaming so “addictive”? Is it the game, socialization, or a combination of all the above that makes people stick with it and in some cases become obsessed?

I think it’s based on your personality as far as which aspect you’re drawn to. In the early days there was a distinct ANTI-social aspect to gaming, because the only people you’re ‘socializing’ with were people you never see IRL. Now you have things like LAN parties and meetups and it’s becoming more mainstream. As far as WOW is concerned, someone compared it to a crack fix. Early levels are easy, it takes you a half hour to ding up to level 4, then as you go on, you have to do more and more in order to get the same ‘high’. I thought that was hilarious but I’m sure, completely intentional on the part of the designers.

13. So you were a snowboard instructor up in Big Bear? Was there ever a day when you were out there, and saw you students and said “Why me?” Care to share an example?

I learned that I am just not a very good teacher. At least with adults. I just don’t think I have the patience for it. With kids, most of them pick up on what you want them to do so very quickly. Plus, they don’t really care about falling. Adults have a lot farther to fall and a lot of bad habits that can get them hurt (i.e. falling backwards onto their hands, which is a really easy way to injure your wrists). If I had one piece of advice for newbie snowboarders, it’d be to bend your knees! And don’t be afraid to fall! So, I guess, two pieces of advice. ?

Cheer Leader Massacre 214. I don’t want to forget to plug the seemingly required roll in a Horror Film. You play Janice in Cheerleader Massacre 2. Not a big horror fan myself, but have always thought that out of all the genre’s these had to be the most fun to work on. How was your experience? And without spoiling it for us, what can we expect from Janice and the show?

That was so aces to work on. It was through Roger Corman’s production company, who’s done more B movies than I could even hope to name. I was very lucky in that my co-star, Julia Lehman, who plays the blonde heroine Anna, was awesome to work with. Because the nitty gritty of those movies is not always the most fun to do. You’re shooting for 14 hours a day in the freezing cold, and it’s a horror movie so of course all the girls are in tank tops, and then you have some people getting covered in dirt and fake blood. But none of that matters if you’re working with people who accept that this is what goes into a horror movie and will just work past it without complaining. And in the end you have this really fun product. As far as my character is concerned: Janice is sort of brought along on this cheerleader retreat against her will; she’s really just there to support her friend Anna. But then, naturally, the bitchy cheerleaders start dying left and right. I will say the CGI is just cringingly hilarious. They were…creative with the deaths.

15. Are there any other projects we should be on the lookout for?

I’m going to be doing another webseries consisting of vignettes similar to the Twilight Zone, but it’s so early in the works that I don’t have much more information than that. I’ve also been going out for a few pilots, so cross your fingers on those as well!

16. Many may think you’re new to the industry, but really you’ve been around a while. For those that might think, I know her from somewhere. What would be some of the one’s that might make people go “Yeah, that’s it! Now I remember!”

Oh I wish I had a better answer for this. I still do consider myself new to this! Honestly, so much of this industry is about building relationships, especially if you want a lasting career. You really have to look *years* forward to the types of roles you *want* to play, and then do the types of small projects that no one knows about in order to build up your resume and tape of you doing those types of roles to show to casting directors later down the line. So my short answer is that unless you’re a film student at USC or AFI, you probably haven’t seen me before ;)

17. So, after working on Stage, Film, TV, Documentaries, and Independent projects like the Guild which do you prefer? What about it grabs you and say “This is it. This is what I was meant to do.”?

I love those roles where you don’t have to play exactly the same thing over and over. I think that’s why so many actors initially gravitate towards film roles over television; you get to constantly reinvent yourself and don’t fall into the trap of being identified ONLY as a single type. Still, honestly, I go for the roles that I feel will be something I love working on. That could be due to the subject material, the character herself, the director I’m going to be working with, or the existing fanbase a project might have. I love independent projects because it feels more like a single person’s vision, something they really care about.

18. Many might see you as the proverbial “girl next door”. But would that be a fair assessment? How would you describe yourself?

That’s funny you say that, because while Riley is certainly the girl next door, I don’t think she fits into the ‘girl-next-door’ mold. Still, I tend to get cast as either the grad student/medical intern (guess you can take the girl out of Harvard Med, but…;)) or, usually in the smaller and independent type films, the girl who appears innocent, but isn’t. Those are always so much fun to play. I usually end up as the assassin or spy. Which is awesome. I was always jealous of Jennifer Garner’s ‘Alias’ role.

19. Knowing that you’re intelligent, athletic, and not to mention multi-talented, what would be something about yourself that might make us “Gasp!! No way. Not her!! That can’t be true!”?

I kick puppies.

I also hate red vines and black licorice. ;)
By the way, thank you! What great compliments! ?

20. Finally, what are some long term objectives you’d like to accomplish? Are you looking to just continue honing your craft or are you looking downstream towards maybe working behind the camera as a Director or even eventually Producer? Maybe become the next Jodie Foster?

I feel I’m still learning too much about all sides of the business to say I want to do anything except act. I would much rather be in front of a camera than behind it. But anything is possible.

There’s no one actress that I can identify with and say ‘Her. I want HER career.’, because I feel everyone has made both good and bad choices with the films they’ve done. I do love those actresses who show they can break away from type and become multi-dimensional. Anne Hathaway comes to mind. But as long as I get to do projects that enable me to keep acting, I’ll be happy. I will say, though, the more ass-kicking roles, the better. Perhaps a zombie movie next?

Well I could sit here and dream up probably a thousand more questions to ask you, but promised to keep myself in check.

I truly enjoyed this and hoped you have also.

Thank you for this honor, and I wish you well on all your endeavors.

You’re so welcome! It was my pleasure ? Hope the answers are up to your standards ;)

Well, I don’t know about you guys, but for me this was an experience that I just won’t forget anytime soon.  I wish to express my thanks and gratitude once more to Michele Boyd.  And then again, tell each of you thanks for visiting The Hunting  Lodge.

12 Responses to “20 Questions With Michele Boyd”

  1. Is she single?

  2. That’s cool that you could get an interview with someone like that on your blog. I’m impressed.

  3. Top notch interview Brig! Well put together and well done!

    Matt’s last blog post..Want More to Read? Try Google Reader’s Bundles

  4. Great interview!
    Michele is awesome!

  5. err. you’d have to ask her that. I thought that was a bit too personal. :P

  6. Tyvm.. Michele was awesome and very cool to work with.

  7. Thanks Matt.. Coming from you, that is a HUGE compliment.

  8. Yes she’s awesome!! If you want to find out more about what Michele is doing, try following her on Twitter @MicheleBoyd

  9. The Girl that Kissed Zaboo kicks puppies!

    Bel-Rand’s last blog post..Knights of the Guild Micro-Podcast posted!

  10. Hey Brigwyn and everyone,

    Thanks again for having me, although I want to point out that it wasn’t a question mark after ‘It was my pleasure’ at the end there….It really was my pleasure! Hee. Have fun gaming everyone, and I hope you’ll enjoy Season 3 of The Guild!

    Cheers
    -Michele

  11. thanks Dani for setting the record straight..

    *ahem

    and here i thought i had started the puppy-kickers club..

    good stuff.. good stuff

  12. Well that’s really awesome that she was all for an interview! :) It’s always great to see the “new” actors (actoresses) who aren’t all that new…but are still able to show a very real and open personality. I’m glad Michelle thinks shes so new still. It keeps her very wholesome and without some sort of “OMG I have a reputation, no wayz can I do interviewz without mah agent” crap. =P Hopefully we can keep her in the nerd-world for a good while longer.

    Great interview though!

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