Michelle Howarth on starting difficult conversations through the art of film

MichelleHowarth-Theatrical Headshot 2017
Michelle Howarth

What Michelle Howarth loves most about being an actress is having the opportunity to submerge herself into the lives of other people. She is fascinated by human beings and thrives on any opportunity to learn about unfamiliar cultures and places around the world. For Howarth, acting is a chance to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. When her characters feel pain, she wants to understand it. When they feel fear, she wants to know why. Beyond the empathetic nature of connecting with her characters, however, Howarth is grateful to work in a profession that provides a platform to channel untold stories and bring them to life. Oftentimes, this means shining a global light on a social, political, or socio-economic issue that the world may not fully understand, or even be aware of. It is one of the few occupations in the world with the potential to start important, controversial conversations and ultimately, change perspectives, minds, and lives.

“Acting can take you into a world with the potential to transform, educate and initiate conversations. It can affect audiences in different ways, whether you’re making them laugh or challenging their beliefs. Acting also allows the audience to escape into a different realm for an hour or two and experience a world beyond themselves… I think that’s really beautiful,” tells Howarth.

Howarth has taken her audiences on a number of journeys throughout her career, allowing them to escape their own realities for hours at a time and simply immerse themselves in her talents. She regards herself as a naturalistic actress, lending her authentic style to a number projects in television, film, and theatre. The esteemed actress is well known for her ability to convincingly transform into any character she sets out to play and is well known for her roles in television mini series such as OCD Mayhem, as well as film shorts like Mad House and The Comments. Recently, Howarth earned herself a role in the television series Hummingbird, and credits landing this role as being one of the greatest highlights of her careers.

Earlier on this year, Howarth auditioned for and won the role of Kelly in a psychological thriller called Madness Descending. The film, directed by Jimmy Cenci, tells the chilling tale of a brooding artist and writer, Devon, and his quest to complete his own novel. In the film, Kelly is Devon’s girlfriend and the story depicts the tole Devon’s creative process takes on their happy and loving relationship. One day, during the Christmas holidays, the couple experience a strange encounter with their landlord and the storyline spirals downward as Devon investigates the haunting truth inside their basement.

Playing Kelly was Howarth’s first experience within the horror genre and she was particularly eager to explore this new territory. She is very keen on the idea of expanding her skill set wherever possible and jumps at any opportunity to develop herself for the better of not only her career, but the entertainment industry as a whole. Cenci, who is used to working with extremely talented actors and actresses, was particularly impressed with the quality Howarth added to the film and knows that she was an integral cast member.

“Working with Michelle was a terrific and wonderful experience. She is extremely talented and a fantastic, professional actress – even in situations of great stress. I subjected her to some miserable situations and she rose to the occasion, exceeding all of my expectations. She is quick-witted, understands character development and takes direction well. All in all, she is a wonderful person, an exquisite actress, and a joy to work with. I’d be honored to work with her on any project in the future,” states Cenci.

What makes Howarth such a dream for a director to work with is her unwavering commitment to getting into character and to playing her part to the absolute best of her ability. Having only a week to learn the script before filming, Howarth meticulously learned her lines and ensured that she acquainted herself with the script in such a way that gave her a thorough understanding of how her character would think and act in the situations she was placed in. In the film, Kelly turns out to be a figment of Devon’s imagination. For this reason, Howarth dedicated her initial character analysis to learning Devon’s psyche, in order to grasp how he would’ve interacted with the character and which parts of his personality she would showcase.

Through this process of learning about Devon and about how he envisioned Kelly, Howarth was able to juxtapose the elements of his character that Kelly was supposed to highlight. In addition, she flawlessly mastered Kelly’s transition from Devon’s bubbly, fun-loving girlfriend into a fear-ridden, anxious character toward the end of the film. It takes an actress with unprecedented talent to be able to transform a character so drastically within the parameters of a single film, but Howarth did so with ease. There are no bounds to the quality of her skills and she was instrumental to the quality of the film.

“I liked the fact that I got to experience being the figment of someone’s imagination and having the challenge of portraying that as a reality for the film. I also like the arch of Kelly’s character and how she transforms from being the sweet, lovable girlfriend to a terrified mess, to an ultimately empty vessel devoid of emotion by the end of the film,” recalls Howarth.

The underlying message of the film is that Devon’s mind is a much more powerful tool than he knows, much like Howarth’s talents are far more profound than she may realize. The film is currently in post-production and is set to premiere in 2018. As for Howarth, however, her career is in full swing. She hopes to be a series regular on Hummingbird, as well as working on as many independent and feature films as her schedule will allow. She is also currently in production for two different films, one of which she helped write and produce. In all, she hopes to continue to act for the rest of her working days in order to keep telling stories that are worth telling. As far as she is concerned, the film industry is one of the greatest ways to initiate difficult conversations and she is honored to raise awareness to the important aspects of humankind.

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