Michael Fishman is known to many for his starring role on ABC’s The Conners / Roseanne, but behind his Veteran character is a man who came from a small town family and is rooted in the true values of what it means to be an American. From entertaining on-screen, to creating jobs off-screen, to his charity work and support of the military, Michael’s mindset is one of a role model each American should try and learn from.
1. How has it been shooting a hit television series during the pandemic?
Like everyone around the world, new Covid-19 protocols have altered the way we plan, organize, gather and work. The zoning, and layer of separation isolated things at work, so I began the season by making pins for our crew and production staff. I wanted them to know they mattered, acknowledge their work, support, and talents while maintaining the required distances. I wanted to provide a symbolic way to keep us connected across production. I am very thankful for all the hard work and dedication of our entire production.
2. The fans keep coming back and are loving the characters/storylines! How long do you see the series going on for?
The series has a tremendous legacy to draw from, and our fans have always been amazing. We built our show to tackle huge storylines. My character, D.J. Conner, has incredible storylines about interracial marriage, a biracial child, military service, a spouse deployed, when his wife comes home, and how that shifts dynamics. Add in the social, economic, and familial undertones and my character alone could motivate years of episodes. As always, it is up to the fans who use their voices, and the producers who decide when and what stories we tell that ultimately decides how long The Conners continues.
3. Beyond being an actor, during COVID-19 you have been handing out over 500,000 face masks to non-profits across Los Angeles. Why was doing this so important to you?
I believe that it is our responsibility to make a positive impact in the world. Being an actor, director, writer, and producer provides me with a lot of contacts. Yet I am also a citizen who cares about his communities. For that reason, we started our charity WeComend, with my business partner Michael Johnson, to make a difference in the world. The masks were a collaboration with Sean Matson of MATBOCK. In order for people to stay safe they needed masks. We made it our mission to provide them to many of those in highest need with the least financial means.
4. Your character on the show is a Veteran himself, so did that make wanting to work with other Veterans an easier decision for you and partnering up with some for your recent charity give-backs?
I come from a military family. I am honored to play a Veteran on The Conners. Soldiers and Veterans matter to me. I have always supported our troops, doing charity events to benefit Veterans and current soldiers, so partnering with a former Navy Seal was an easy decision. Any collaborative mission to help others requires honor, dignity, integrity, and discipline. I love to be the boots on the ground, physically helping.
5. You also are about to launch your own production company. What can you tease us with information wise about this, and what types of projects will you be taking on?
Michael Johnson and I started Mclusive media to create ground breaking, compelling, heartfelt, impactful and inclusive original content. We are passionate about telling stories as diverse as the world we live in. We have a number of televisions shows. Including comedies about a military family, a multigenerational blended family, another about lifelong friends coming of age. Our dramas include; a gritty western about social dynamics, an action adventure heroine show, another of a family with too many dark secrets. In our film department we have a truly unique heist film, an inner city coming of age, a couple of action films, and a movie about the prison system. One of the projects we are most proud of is a documentary getting ready to start production about refugees. It is about telling authentic, visceral stories people can relate to from under represented viewpoints.
6. Where do you see the entertainment industry as a whole heading towards after the pandemic hopefully “goes away”?
I believe we are coming to a reawakening of community, synchronicity and inclusion. The pandemic reminded people how precious and delicate life is, how valuable quality entertainment is, and how coming together empowers us all. I think we are seeing the beginning of a new renaissance. People want to expand their consciousness, embrace diversity, while building more cohesive communities. Our job in the media is always to acknowledge the past, share dreams of the future, and bring communities together.
7. What has been one thing beyond work that you have been able to concentrate on more during this period of time?
I have laid the foundation of two production companies, and established two charities, WeComend, and Altruistic Acres. While those are professional endeavors they really came from my own family and community. I have spent this time growing, changing, establishing new habits, and structuring how I want to impact the world through positive action. I am deepening my connections with my family, watching my adult kids set out into the world, and focusing on personal growth. I was at a crossroads, and now I am going forward vulnerably, authentically, boldly ready to contribute more significantly to society.
8. Why are you proud to be American?
My life is a uniquely American story! I am the son of a small town American farm girl from Virginia, who married an immigrant who came from China, through Israel, and became a US Army Veteran. Only in America could such an unlikely pair raise a child who could build a career in entertainment. A lower middle class kid, raised by a nurse / teacher, married to a small business owner, I grew up training and working with Hollywood legends. It is a script almost too good to believe. I grew up with multiple languages in my home, driven to excel by the reasons my grandparents immigrated to America. What I want to do most is share the kind of stories that make this country special. Stories fraught with complexity, challenges, and overcoming ethnocentrism. To achieve the American dream, uplifting others with me. I want to be a force for positive change, embodying an inclusive spirit, empowered by the truths that all people are created equal and all of our stories matter.