Latin Style Made In Hollywood
Michelle C. Bonilla makes impact on studio and indie films
Published on LatinoLA: August 29, 2005
She walks through life to her own beat and delivers her lines as flawlessly as she recites the lyrics of every Prince song. And yes, while she could most certainly be one of the singer's biggest fans, she is undeniably one of the Most Beautiful Girls in the World?. Why? Simply because 'Nothing Compares To' her!
She is the kind of girl who knocks at agents' doors to demand a meeting after being turned down on the phone; who drives from LA to Bakersfield to Las Vegas to attend a Prince Concert; who after falling on the floor, picks herself up, retrieves the hoop earring she lost on impact and finds her way up on stage to pole dance with her idol; who signs out of classes when everybody else is scrambling to get into them because she caught the acting bug; who books one of the lead female roles on her first audition ever in the critically acclaimed 'Dark Rapture' by Eric Overmyer, at the prestigious Kalita Humphreys Theatre, in Dallas, TX; and who convinces casting directors to cast her in an ER role originally written with a male character in mind.
Meet Michelle C. Bonilla, the witty, talented, zesty, funny and energetic actress who shot herself into the stellar Hollywood sky with the assistance of a very unique set of tools: a kitchen counter as her spaceship, vinyl records as her motor engine, and a favorite uncle as her co-pilot! Such was the humble entertainment debut of Bonilla, who at eight years old, found a first and instant audience performing to the sound of Donna Summer, Crystal Gayle and Linda Rondstant.
By the time she reached her teens, she was already studying voice, dance, music and theatre at the Los Angeles City College Arts Department.
But, beyond the scholastic world she immersed herself into to learn about the creative dimension called Arts, the world she lived in was also one of highly artistic influences.
The Los Angeles native of Mexican and Aztec origin grew up in the 'Neverland' planet of Hollywood always exposed to the eccentric and the eclectic flavors of a neighborhood that hosted a myriad of marginal imaginations. Of course it helped that Bonilla lived next door to an original Munchkin from the 'Wizard of Oz', Billy Curtis, and befriended his granddaughter.
The girls hung out together in the company of Curtis' wife, Joan, and would not only watch Busby Berkeley and Doris Day movies, but would also indulge in the ritual of reading scripts. The connection was immediate for Bonilla who, still seeing the world through the eyes of a child, originally believed that acting the parts of these scripts and television commercials would really make her be the kid on TV who got to keep all the toys and the candy! The TV set very quickly became her source for material. She took the habit of taping the opening credits of her favorite TV shows to introduce them during her own one-woman show produced in her bedroom.
However, Bonilla's life was not always as safe and beautiful as the one she lived by ways of her imagination. In addition to growing up without a father, very early on she faced the tragic loss of two of the most important male figures in her family. Raised by her mother and aunt, she benefited from strong women influences and inherited her feisty determination and dedicated persistence that ultimately catapulted her from the unknown set of her kitchen to the more popular set of our TV and Theatre screens.
Bonilla has played them all: from the sexy Latina paramedic on NBC's 'ER', the Klingon dubbed Bu'Kah on 'Star Trek: Enterprise', to Teresa Morales the first Mexican-American School Marm on 'Dr Quinn Medicine Women', among numerous others.
An amazing trek into this journey called acting, which culminated in an ALMA Award for her portrayal in the PBS award-winning Foto-Novelas Series, 'Seeing Through Walls'.
Whereas most artists turn to acting to transform themselves into different personalities, Bonilla uses the craft to project herself into nothing else than her own shoes!
"I act to be myself," she confesses. The personalities she dresses herself with on screen is a therapeutic way of expression for the actress who confidently humors herself by admitting that the first few years of her career were spent "making money crying!"
Tears well shed as she secured herself a series of roles converting her resume from slim to prolific. She made her big screen debut in 'Above Suspicion' with Christopher Reeve and Kim Cattral; worked opposite some of Hollywood?s biggest names including Halle Berry in 'The Rich Man's Wife', Charleze Theron in 'Trial and Error', Billy Bob Thornton in 'Homegrown', Richard Dreyfuss in 'Lansky', Jimmy Smitts in 'The Price of Glory', and Faye Dunaway in 'Dunston Checks In'. She was also seen in 'True Friends' (Winner Gold Jury Award, Best Independent Film, Charleston International Film Festival) and most recently in 'Sexual Life' (official selection at the 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival and now airing on Showtime) with Tom Everett Scott and Anne Heche. In addition to sharing the screen with A-list celebrities, Bonilla has also been captured by the prestigious lenses of top-notch directors such as Jonathan Lynn, Ken Kwapis, Amy Holden Jones, Stephen Gyllenthal, and John Mc Naughton.
While securing roles with major studios, Bonilla does not shy away from independent film projects. She co-stars in the short entitled 'Getting to Know You' directed by Liz Lachman which is currently traveling the film festival circuit with a recent appearance at Los Angeles' Outfest! and an upcoming stop at LA Shorts Fest as well as the Palm Springs International Film Festival. She will next be seen opposite John Laroquette and Greg Germann (Ali McBeal) playing Susan, their ambitious, driven young business assistant, in the dark comedy feature 'Kill Your Darlings', expected to premiere at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.
Michelle C. Bonilla is certainly having it her way! On the fast track to success, the talented actress is poised for a breakthrough year.