www.ambiente.us SEPTEMBER |SEPTIEMBRE 2010
MICHELLE C. BONILLA In HOLLYWOOD | The Landscape of
By María Antonia Hernández
She’s an actress, a writer, a producer, a native from Los Angeles, California…Who is
she?? Any guesses??? Hint: she played both the sexy Latina Paramedic on NBC’s
“ER’ and in the same breath became a Klingon named ‘Bu’Kah’ on “Star Trek:
Enterprise.” Hmm, what if I told you she has struggled and survived in the
entertainment capital of the world for the last seventeen years, and continues to thrive?
Is the list of female actresses who have withstood the test of time running through your
mind? Good, let’s narrow this rhetorical game-show of ‘Who’s who in Tinsel Town.”
What if I told you she’s a proud Mexican-American who actively supports the Latin
community? Umm… drawing a blank; still not much help, huh. This might help: she’s
also an out, proud, and open Lesbian who has been working consistently under
Hollywood’s alluring bright lights. Now, I bet your curiosity is peaked.
Meet Michelle C. Bonilla, and ascribed to her name is a prolific body of work www.
michellebonilla.com. From the theatre to television to a host of feature films, Bonilla
has etched out a significant niche in the Hollywood community.
What distinguishes this seasoned actress from the thousands of employed actors
working at Starbuck’s, is her commitment to bring as much truthfulness to each
character as possible. Never was acting a form of escapism or diversion rather it’s part
of the grandeur ever so elusive quest to finding one’s own truth, to
finding oneself. So in a roundabout way, the more authentic Bonilla is with each passing role she
plays, the closer she becomes to knowing herself. After so many years in the business, her
growth as a person has indeed soared, and can be seen in her latest project.
Bonilla has branched out from acting, and moved into other forms of
expression: writer, actor, and producer. “Slip Away” is a narrative short
that investigates the fleeting nature of love when two people are joining
together as a couple, but are searching for something intrinsically
different. Based on real life events, Bonilla explores this transitory process
of love. Though the movie examines a love relationship in the world of the
particular through the relationship of two women, love has always had a
universal quality which touches the hearts of all of us who have fallen in
love, grown closer, loved deeper, and as the years pass feel that love slip
away minute by minute, argument by argument, word by word till there
are no more words to utter, and you’re left with only silence—that
profound, awkward silence which settles in at the bottom of your soul.
Love is real; a reality that we all share. The film begs the age old question: is love, alone, enough
to sustain that forever kind of love most of us seek or is the very essence of love transitory? The
biggest obstacle in undertaking such a project begins where all stories commence: with a clean,
clear slate or in this case, a blank white screen staring at you from the computer screen
waiting…waiting for you to create…create something. Indeed, Bonilla confesses that writing the
screenplay was a very isolated, lonely form of expression especially for actors who aren’t used to
such a solitary manifestation.
Unlike most pictures, “Slip Away” is more than just a Hollywood movie. It’s an artistic
vehicle intended to empower women so
that voices from all women, across all
races and SES status, and their diverse
stories can be heard. To that extent,
Bonilla teams up with The Los Angeles
Women’s Theatre Project (LAWTP) in
order to give back on a communal level.
The LAWTP is an institution solely
committed to supporting women in the
performing arts. As such the LAWTP is
serving as the films fiscal sponsor.
Donations, which are 100% tax-
deductable, are encouraged and
welcomed. Donations are predominately
accepted on the movies webpage: www.
slipawaythemovie.com. Also, all current
updates can also be monitored on
FaceBook and Twitter.
With all these social networking sites
covered, Bonilla excitedly acknowledges
that there is a growing interest in the
picture. In its pre-production stage, she
recognizes that there is quite an
increasing amount of buzz surrounding
the film. With a release date of
November 10 later this year, this Alma
Award winning Latina plans to take all
this momentum to various film festivals
including the well-known Sundance Film
Another piece of trivia shows that Bonilla is considerably unpretentious, and very much
grounded in reality: her most favorite activity to do when she’s not working and just wants to
have fun is to watch ‘Ghostly Encounters’ on television, a program that examines supernatural
phenomenon through the eyes of the people who have witnessed these events (anyone
interested??? It’s found on the Biography Channel).
“I love that show! Wouldn’t have guess it?” She laughs wholeheartedly. It definitely seems that
Bonilla is unaffected by fame, celebrity, and the overall allure of Hollywood. She’s kept both
feet on the ground, keeps things real by focusing primarily on her craft. Bonilla will no doubt
continue to hone in on the art of acting, writing, producing, and in time she will indisputably
take a stab at directing.
What I found most notable during our conversation is her genuine
search for truth which pervades all areas of her life, and her
indisputable sincerity begs the question: how did coming out affect her
career and family. Bonilla has previously stated that ‘coming out’ for
her wasn’t a choice. Once she became honest with herself about her
sexuality, then letting those she loves becomes an obvious piece of
information to convey. Her career hasn’t been negatively affected.
She’ll answer openly and honestly when asked, but she remains careful
to keep her private life private. Bonilla is extremely open about how the
news affected her family, especially her mom. In the beginning, there
was the obvious shock factor. After that initial jolt, her mother went
through the process of acceptance, and now loves Bonilla’s partner.
“It’s a family thing,” Bonilla exclaims.
Being honest in who she is, in all her activities, on and off screen, giving back to her
community, a strong commitment toward family is the motivating force, the fuel that resonates
within her blood to do everything she does. Michelle C. Bonilla: the landscape of truth, her
landscape definitely is entrenched with love.
MIAMI RIVER INN
WORDS & IMAGES
Gay & Lesbian Alliance
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Speaking with Bonilla, it’s easy to pick-up on her passion to create opportunities for women, to
give something back and fill a much needed creative void. I found this spit-fire Latina not only
grounded in her everyday life, but also extremely humble. When asked what her most recent
personal accomplishment was, Bonilla laughed and quickly answered: “Re-finishing the kitchen,
especially installing the backsplash.” So when watching the film, pay attention to the kitchen
scenes and keep an eye out for the backsplash because the multi-talented Bonilla put it in herself.