AJ Michalka learned her les­sons for ‘Schooled’

Daily Press - - Tv Grid - By Rick Bent­ley Tribune News Ser­vice

It’s not dif­fi­cult for AJ Michalka to think about the spe­cial teach­ers in her life while play­ing an ed­u­ca­tor in the new ABC com­edy “Schooled.” So much of her own time in school took place while work­ing on the Sony Stu­dios lot, where she’s film­ing “The Gold­bergs”’ spinoff se­ries. Michalka has been ap­pear­ing on tele­vi­sion shows since she was 11, in­clud­ing ap­pear­ances on “Pas­sions,” “Oliver Beene,” “The Guardian,” “Birds of Prey,” “Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal” and “Six Feet Un­der” while she was go­ing to school. That meant a lot of her class­room work was done on set with a stu­dio teacher.

“It’s a thrill for me to have those peo­ple locked away in my mem­ory banks so that I can now use them in play­ing a char­ac­ter,” Michalka says. “I am able to ref­er­ence things that I wouldn’t usu­ally be able to ref­er­ence as an ac­tor be­cause I can look back at them.”

Michalka plays Lainey Lewis, the new mu­sic teacher at Wil­liam Penn Academy in the ’90s-set se­ries. Dur­ing the ’80s (and while on “The Gold­bergs”), Lainey dated

Barry Gold­berg (Troy Gen­tile). But that ended, and after grad­u­a­tion, she be­gan pur­su­ing her dream to be a rock star. When her mu­sic ca­reer failed to launch, Lainey needed work, and the Wil­liam Penn grad­u­ate landed a job where she finds her­self a col­league with Mr. Glas­cott (Tim Mead­ows), Coach Mel­lor (Bryan Callen) and teacher Char­lie Brown (Brett Dier).

A spinoff of a hit com­edy like “The Gold­bergs” is both a bur­den and bless­ing for Michalka and the rest of the “Schooled” cast. “Schooled” launches Wednes­day in the time slot be­hind “The Gold­bergs.”

“We are blessed in that we al­ready have an es­tab­lished hit show lead­ing us in, which is amaz­ing,” Michalka says. “There also is a kind of pres­sure. We are like, ‘Oh my gosh, is this go­ing to work?’ But, this is round two in a way and we still have a lot of sto­ries to tell for the Gold­bergs.”

Michalka likes that through her time on “The Gold­bergs” and now with “Schooled,” she has got­ten to play a large arc with Lainey. In “The Gold­bergs,” she was just a stu­dent who was try­ing to fig­ure out where she was go­ing in life; the new show al­lows her to play the char­ac­ter as a ca­reer woman.

“We are see­ing Lainey in a dif­fer­ent light. We are see­ing her in a world where she doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily have a lot of re­spect for these peo­ple, which is un­fair, but kind of how it goes when you are her age,” Michalka says.

“Schooled” un­folds in the ’90s, when Michalka was grow­ing up in Tor­rence, Calif. Michalka ad­mits there are some things, such as hair and makeup, that make her gig­gle, but over­all she feels at home in the era.

Work­ing on “Schooled” al­lows Michalka the op­por­tu­nity to keep work­ing as a voice ac­tor. Along with pro­vid­ing the vo­cals for Stevon­nie on “Steven Uni­verse,” Michalka is the voice of Ca­tra on “She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.”

“There are days when I am work­ing on ‘Schooled’ and ‘Gold­bergs’ and ‘SheRa’ at the same time. It’s in­sane but I love it,” Michalka says.

Voice work is a nat­u­ral job choice for Michalka be­cause of her love of mu­sic. Along with all the work she has done as an ac­tor, she is an ac­com­plished mu­si­cian who can play the gui­tar, pi­ano and per­cus­sion.

She and her sis­ter, Aly Michalka (“iZom­bie“), have re­leased nu­mer­ous al­bums. Work­ing as an ac­tor and mu­si­cian has been ideal for Michalka.

“I think the rush I get from mu­sic is more in­tense in some ways be­cause there is a live as­pect of be­ing on stage. You get that im­me­di­ate feed­back from the crowd. You get to hear them sing your lyrics. You meet them after the show,” Michalka says. “When you are on TV, you don’t nec­es­sar­ily get to meet the peo­ple who watch your show.”

STHANLEE B. MIRADOR/SIPA USA

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