Michelle Sharman grew up in Wauchope, studied dance at La Vive Classique, and her career has since landed her on international turf. Rubbing shoulders with Hollywood icons, travelling the world, branching out into songwriting, Michelle leads an extremely busy life, but she never forgets her Australian roots …
Hi Shelly. Tell us a little about your family background and growing up in Wauchope …
Growing up in Wauchope in a big family definitely had its charms – I’m one of six kids. Mum and Dad each worked really hard to support us all and allow us to pursue our passions! I have five older brothers, so sport was a massive obsession in our household – but so was music! We all sang and played assorted musical instruments, so it was a pretty busy little household!
When/how did the dance journey begin for you?
Mum had me in a yellow feathered chicken suit at age four, prepped to sing and dance at my first concert! But when Elizabeth Galloway came to town and opened up a dance school called La Vive Classique, that was a game changer. I adored her.
Luckily for us, she was and still is one of the most incredible classical ballet teachers out there! She taught me a beautiful ballet technique, as well as discipline, dedication and drive. She has an infectious laugh and a playful personality. It was a VERY fun childhood having Elizabeth in it!
When you were at school, what were your dreams/aspirations – and have they come true?
By high school (St Joesph’s Regional), I was entirely obsessed with dancing. I would sit on my long bus ride home and just listen to the radio and choreograph routines in my head.
One day I was pulled aside by my maths teacher; he asked me what I was going to do with “all this dancing”. I was confused, as it seemed obvious I was going to be a dancer!
I had no clue dancing would lead me to singing, and singing into songwriting. Dancing has provided so many creative opportunities in my life that I didn’t even think were possible as a kid. So, my dreams have been far exceeded by expectations.
How did you end up living and working in the U.S.A.?
I took a job working in Japan at Universal Studios some years ago now, where I met performers from the U.S.A; I organised a trip to LA shortly after.
I was instantly drawn to the city and the entertainment industry there. The energy is electric, with big, beautiful open blue skies and plenty of sunny days – very much like Australia!
I got myself an agent and started working there 12 years ago now!
Describe your current job/role. What’s involved with this position?
I just returned from Osaka, where I worked as a show director/choreographer at Universal studios. I’m currently in LA working at Body By Simone daily. It’s Hollywood’s latest obsession with dance based fitness!
Performance-wise, I just played the lead singer for a production at the Venetian in Vegas, with 25 beautiful dancers for NYE. A highlight was singing Never Enough from the movie The Greatest Showman. It was a wonderfully produced evening, visually stunning, and the material was challenging and so rewarding.
Working in Hollywood must have its perks. Who have been some of the people you’ve met, worked with and been influenced by?
Well, working at Body By Simone I’ve had the opportunity to personally train Reese Witherspoon, Jen Garner, Naomi Watts, Sean Hayes (Will & Grace), Rosie Huntington Whitley, Cara Delevigne and Chrissy Teigan. Elvis’ grand daughter came to class one day!
I’ve drawn from techniques learnt at the Wauchope stadium from “Miss Elizabeth” (a massive influence in my life) to prepare Hollywood clients for film/TV and modelling shoots!
LA has also presented opportunities such as singing with Britney Spears, Arianna Grande and Jason Alexander.
I’ve sung for Sylvester Stallone, Melanie Griffith, Matt Damon and George Clooney at private parties.
So yes, Hollywood has its “perks” … but I learnt so much in my little hometown before I landed there.
You’ve achieved success in another creative field too, co-writing the song Lost, which was performed by VASSY and Afrojack, featuring Oliver Rosa. How did this come about … and how much did you enjoy the songwriting process?
Songwriting is a process I LOVE so much. To see Lost go from a seed, to a song, to a music video and then to a number one on the Billboard Dance Charts was a process that I’d love to repeat over and over!
I met VASSY a few years ago in a writing session in LA. VASSY co-wrote Bad with David Guetta, which was a double platinum record! She was collaborating with Afrojack and decided to throw him one of our ideas!
Lost has been streamed six million times and went to number one on the Billboard Dance Charts last May, next to Kylie Minogue!
How often do you get back to Oz to visit … and what are some of the things you do when you first land back on your home turf?
I am lucky enough to get home at least twice a year for an extended period! I work as a casting consultant for Universal Studios, which has me auditioning performers in 11 cities around the U.S.A., U.K., ending in Australia.
After that, it’s straight home to Mum and Dad’s for not enough cups of tea, family catch ups and a bit of Home and Away.
There’s nothing like Vegemite on toast in the house you grew up in. I get to see my nieces and nephews, who are growing up way too fast. I giggle at hearing the Aussie slang that I don’t get to hear on a daily basis anymore!
What’s in the pipeline for you in the next year or so?
I’m excited to go to Italy in May to perform at a private function at the Hotel Borgo Egnazia with Imagination Entertainment, and I’ll also be showcasing some new songs live in LA soon.
I plan to come home to Oz in July for family time before touring with Universal again, and I’m so excited for that! See you soon, Timbertown!
Interview: Jo Robinson.