A Conversation with Caitlin Carmichael

I spoke with actress, student and philanthropist Caitlin Carmichael about her role in Midnight in the Switchgrass —in Theaters, On Demand and Digital on July 23, 2021 and on Blu-ray and DVD on July 27, 2021. We also discuss the charities she’s involved with and which city is her favorite.

Yanis: Are you having a good day so far?

Caitlin: Yes. Doing great. Sitting here with a cup of coffee so I'm happy.

Y: That's awesome. You fully vaccinated?

C: Yes I am.

Y: What has it been like being a teenager during this pandemic? Two years feels like an eternity when you’re a kid. How has the pandemic affected your studies?

C: I mean, unchartered times for sure. That’s the only way to really express the feeling of uncertainty that everyone in the world felt when COVID happened.

I was actually filming Midnight in the Switchgrass when we experienced our first shutdown. I remember we were on set, on the beach actually, in Puerto Rico.

I think it was on the weekend, and one of my friends called me and asked if we needed to stock up on toilet paper and sent me a picture of this huge line coming out of Costco.

It was the most mind boggling thing to me. It looked like people were planning for the apocalypse. We had no idea what was happening in our reserved little bubble on the island of Puerto Rico.

It wasn’t until a cruise ship docked in Puerto Rico that we actually had to halt production and head back home.

When we came back to Los Angeles it felt like the apocalypse had taken over. The roads were empty, everyone was in solitary confinement.

Until I was able to go back and complete filming this movie, I was completely self-isolated. Just prioritizing the safety of my family, but also knowing I had the responsibility on a job to protect our cast and crew was a huge aspect for me.

I was a UCLA sophomore at the time so I actually finished up my freshman year during the beginning of COVID-19, so I started my sophomore year completely on zoom.

It was completely uncharted territory for me. I missed the in-person aspect of being able to collaborate with my peers, especially taking film classes, there’s something about in person connection that I realized the value the of.

And just things like appreciating in-person collaboration and the synergy that comes from working with your peers on assignments, to collaborating with industry professionals on a film set it, has made returning to normal life feel so much more special. I don’t think I take nearly as many things for granted anymore.

Y: What made you say yes to this film?

C: There’s something really special about opening a script and seeing “based on real events.” That is an instant hook for me.

I know in school they always teach you the very first sentence in your essay is supposed to be the hook that wins over your readers, and for me as a reader of this script seeing “based on real events” instantly caught my eye.

Caitlin Carmichael in Midnight in the Switchgrass

I was really excited to learn what Tracey’s story was and how it was based in the FBI’s real highway serial killings initiative.

Knowing that my character would be a symbol for the numerous girls who have gone missing and whose stories we’ve never heard really gave me the responsibility that I've put upon myself of wanting to bring the most authentic performance to life on screen.

Y: What was working with Megan Fox like?

C: Working with Megan Fox was very impactful for me. The end of this movie was extremely inspiring to me as a female viewer and reader of the story, aside from being an actress in it.

I’m really thankful to have someone so established, with such a platform, to collaborate in a narrative with my character; to form a sense of female unity that allows us to both overcome the adversity in the storyline together.

Y: You mentioned UCLA, are you a film major by chance?

C: I’m actually an American Lit and Culture major, but I just declared my Film and TV minor so I’m registering for my classes for my junior year now starting this fall.

Y: UCLA is the best school for film studies. You can’t beat it.

C: You really can’t.

Y: Why American Lit?

C: I’ve actually had this major picked out since I was in sixth grade. UCLA has always been my dream school.

I graduated [high school] when I was 14 years old and I had no idea what the college admissions process would look like for a 14 year old.

My guidance counselor encouraged me to shoot my shot per se and apply to my dream school. UCLA is always where I knew I wanted to end up, so when I got in I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to start my education there.

As for the American Lit and Culture major, I didn't want to necessarily limit myself to only film studies.

With the American Lit and Culture major it seems that creative writing, philosophy, gender studies, religion, psychology…

I think will give me such a well rounded perspective on the world and not only make me a better actress, but will also help me grow as an artist in front of and behind the camera in aspects such as writing, producing, and directing.

Y: Do you have any plans for the future? You seem so forward thinking.

C: I am very forward thinking. I try to live in the moment as much as possible, but I can’t help dreaming about the future as well. Knowing that I just turned 17 and I’m already starting my junior year of college, I do have time and I can start thinking about getting my master’s in film or something like that.

I’m really excited to see where the next few years take me in my career, especially growing in creating my own content and my visions for the film industry as far as directing, producing, and writing as well as just acting.

Y: You’re a philanthropist. Tell me about the causes you support.

C: Giving back has always been really important to me, and still is today. I started working with the American Cancer Society after my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.

And now almost seven years into remission, which is a great thing to say, I’m the American Cancer Society’s west coast teen ambassador.

We’ve launched an initiative called the ResearcHERS campaign which is founded to fund female scientists in the cancer research field and inspire young girls in STEM programs.

Aside from that I’ve launched my own campaign called Stars of Blessing, which has been acknowledged by the Starbucks Foundation to help feed the homeless using the points obtained on the Starbucks mobile app.

At no expense to the person, feeding the homeless they can use their accumulated points to buy a meal or a drink and spread kindness to someone homeless in their community.

Having the global outreach of a company such as Starbucks acknowledge my campaign really helps spread this kind of change reaction around the world.

Finally I’ve been sponsoring a little girl in Namibia, Africa since I was 7 years old. When I first started sponsoring her she wanted to be a teacher, but now her dreams have expanded even more and she wants to be a lawyer.

I’m now currently sponsoring two girls and I pay for their school books, their clothing and their meals. I’m sponsoring them in their extra curricular activities and their education.

Y: You rock.

C: Thank You.

Y: I was born in Paris, France. It’s one of my favorite cities. Is it true that Paris is your favorite city? Why?

C: You were born in Paris? That’s fascinating. I filmed the American Girl movie in 2014 in Budapest, Hungary. While I was filming there my mom and I took every opportunity to travel and immerse ourselves in the culture as much as we could.

We took the train to Vienna, Austria and took a weekend trip to Paris. When I tell you we did everything in the city. We went to the Louvre, we took the water taxi around just to get macarons.

The ambiance of the city is unlike any other and I wish that patisseries in the US would adopt the Parisian fashion of having all of the chairs face out to the road just to people watch.

There’s so much we can learn from French culture that I am absolutely enamored with. I also speak French as well.

I took French in high school and just finished taking it at UCLA as well, so I would definitely say that Paris is in my top handful of favorite cities. I want to go back now that I’m older.

Y: What’s next for you?

C: I’m really focusing on my education right now. I just registered for my junior year of classes.

I’m really excited to see where my educational opportunities will help me grow in this next few year plan as we were talking about. Growing, working behind the camera, as well as not just in front of it.

Y: One last question. Is it true you can’t stand chocolate?!

C: It is true. I don’t want to say “can’t stand” because I know that I would say “can’t stand” and then somehow I would book another movie that was centered on being a chocolate baker or something like that. I’m not gonna put that out there.

I used to be allergic to chocolate, which I found out in a tragic story at a Hershey Kiss commercial audition. I grew out of my allergy a couple years ago, but I was deathly allergic for the longest time.

I think my body is still a little hesitant to be anywhere near chocolate, but at least if it’s slipped in some dessert in secret I don’t have to worry about it too much.

Y: Now you can go to Paris and eat all the pain au chocolat you can handle. Such a pleasure speaking with you. Your future is so bright it hurts my eyes.

C: Thank you so much for these questions

You can follow Caitlin on Instagram and Twitter.



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