If you’re an American Millennial, odds are you recognize AJ Michalka. She is best known for her roles in The Goldbergs, Cow Bells, and Super 8; as well as being one half of the band Aly & AJ (later re-named 78Violet). I, myself, vividly remember dancing around the house to Aly & AJ’s Potential Breakup Song. Unlike most of the Disney Channel stars, though, AJ Michalka has since used her fame to be a fantastic representation of a Christian in Hollywood.
From day one, AJ’s entertainment career was built on a solid Christian foundation. When AJ and her sister Aly, at the ages of nine and eleven, started asking to take acting classes, their parents prayed about the decision and went so far as to discuss their concerns about the industry with their pastor. It was determined that their passion for performing was instilled by God. So after attending local acting workshops in Washington, the family moved out to Los Angeles to pursue the children’s acting and singing career.
Needless to say, this decision worked out very well for the two sisters. Both of their careers took off, but neither one forgot who was helping them along the way. In an interview with CBN, AJ said, “If we put Him first and realize, ‘I can’t just consider this my dream. This is His dream through me.’ If we realize that, and we don’t selfishly make these dreams our own and realize it’s because the Lord brought them to us, that’s when I feel we’ll be on a better path. Sometimes, people get so excited about, ‘I want to be a rock star. I want to be an athlete or I want to be this,’ and really, it’s not really about ‘I, I, I,’ it’s, ‘God, do you want me to do this? I feel like there’s a passion you’ve put inside me for this. How can I affect other people in this industry in a really positive way and shine a lot for you?’”
Sometimes that path isn’t always easy, especially in Hollywood. Actors are often asked to compromise their belief systems for a role. In an article in the 2007 Today’s Christian, AJ recalled, “I didn’t feel comfortable with an episode. I talked to the executive producer and said, ‘If you still want to do the episode, you’re going to have to let me go.’ He respected my objections and changed it.” Being a Christian entertainer in Hollywood means having to make tough choices, but AJ is willing to make the tough calls. In the CBN interview she stated, “You don’t have to compromise who you are as a young woman or as a young guy growing up in this industry or any industry for that matter. If God is first and you kind of center everything else around Him being the main focal point, you really can make decisions that will not only mold you, but God will see exactly how you’re making your decisions and then will bless you for it.”
In 2013, AJ accepted the role of Gracie Trey in the Christian film Grace Unplugged. The film centers around her character as she discovers the “real world” of Hollywood. In the film she sings several songs including All I’ve Ever Needed, which is about the moment you realize that what you’ve been searching for is meaningless without faith in Jesus. It’s a beautiful song and a great movie that I highly recommend.
Currently, you can see AJ in the TV show The Goldbergs and on ABC’s reboot of Battle of the Network Stars which aired June 29, along with fellow Christian Lisa Whelchel.