Actress Michael Michele has starred in popular movies such as Ali, New Jack City, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Her most recent role is Dr. Martha in the Lifetime movie “Drunk, Driving, and 17.”
Michele opened up about what the film means to her, how she prepared for the role, and her thoughts on Lifetime partnering with MADD.
What does this movie mean to you on a personal level?
On a personal level, I was living this movie every day with my own 17-year-old son [who’s] also graduating high school, also on his way to college, and also navigating, “Mom, I’m going to the parties this weekend and you know what, we’re going to do it at this person’s home because the parents are OK with it.” So, I was living this in real time — 100% all of it.
Tell us more about the role you play in “Drunk, Driving, and 17.”
So, I play Dr. Martha. I am the mother of the son who’s [in a] relationship with the 17-year-old who goes out drunk driving, OK. So, my role is really to give the audience the perspective of what it’s like for the parent trying to navigate. Yes, you can, or no, you can’t; and what happens when as a parent, you think you’re doing the right thing? So, Martha thought she was doing the right thing. “We’ll have the party at our house, we’ll supply the alcohol, and we’ll control it. We’ll take everyone’s keys, and it’s all good.” But then the unexpected happens. So, my role is really to explain what that struggle is like when you don’t make the right decision. As a parent, when you don’t make the right decision. Like you want to parent, but your kids are 17 or 18 years of age, they’re independent, so you’re trying to kind of be the friend and also the parent. That’s what happens in my situation.
What are your thoughts on Lifetime partnering with MADD to put an end to drunk driving?
So, even I grew up with Mothers Against Drunk Drivers and understanding what that means. … This movie is not just dramatized, it’s based on real things that have happened. So, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers said, “OK, let’s look at all the stories we’ve experienced, all the stories that we know about, and let’s partner with Lifetime TV and tell that story. So, this is all based upon true, actual events. As I said to my son, I don’t care if for some reason you make the wrong choice, I don’t care where you park that car; if you’ve got to put it in a field next to a horse, if you’ve got to park it in a parking lot and the car is abandoned, or if you have to park it on the street and it’s towed, but whatever you do, do not drive and drink. That’s really what this is about. Because young people are going to be young people and so what do you do in that situation? Hand your keys over and don’t get in the car.