As a former private Christian school student, Michaela Emerson has tested her creativity in a variety of ways; most noteworthy being her role as production designer for a strip club in a music video.
Now an Arizona-based artist and ASU alum, Michaela’s latest film project, Domestic, is complete (— which is why you can watch it right now via the video below these words). She talks more about the creation of Domestic, as well as her own past experiences with the intersection/collision of religion and creativity in this episode of Up in Smoke.
Before Michaela dove into the creation of her most recent film or mentioned any of her stripper encounters, she talked to Raina and I about her experience in transferring from California Baptist University to the ivy-reject party school that is Arizona State University (disclaimer: that is a joke, go Devil(s)).
She spoke about her short-lived private Christian college experience making her slightly bitter about her past, but highlighted the fact that she has nothing against Christianity and is more or less just opposed to certain details of religion.
“It was definitely a tough experience for me, I would say, because it was very conservative, very religious, and I kind of felt lost in that,” she said of the small school.
The film major transferred to ASU shortly after her first year, realizing that some of the creative endeavors that she was trying to pursue at CBU were making her feel like a complete outcast.
Michaela also spoke more about her transition between the polar opposite schools. She credits the once uncomfortable leap to ASU as something that helped to push her further out of her comfort zone. Eventually she landed an internship in New York City with Yacht Club Films, with the full intent of getting as much hands on production experience as possible.
“I ended up going to New York and stayed there for three months. I lived in a basement with five other guys,” Michaela said.
One of the most memorable experiences of the internship was being put in the role of production designer for a rap music video which required her to set up and design a strip club, she said.
“I had to give some strippers some birthday cake, it was really interesting,” she said.
Michaela also talks about the conversation she had with her mom in which she tried to explain what she was doing as an intern (which you can hear more about here).
Flash forward to Michaela’s most recent project: Domestic (shoutout to Nichole Perlberg) which is based on the large amount of people who will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. The dance piece falls in line with her desire to create projects that also have some kind of social impact, she said.
And when we asked Michaela what advice she has for other women looking to switch up their own life and try something completely out of their comfort zone she quoted Nike’s life slogan: “Just do it.”
“I went (to New York) terrified because I was like, ‘I don’t really know what I’m doing,’ -but that’s why I went – because it was a great opportunity for me to learn more about it,” Michaela said.
Moving forward as an artist with the goal to bring her diverse background into her writing, the now desert dweller hopes to take her creative talents to London — and you can follow more of that journey on her FB here and IG here.
Side note: We also talked about how feminism was viewed at Michaela’s prior school, questioned why people keep saying “though shall submit to thy husband,” at weddings, and I relived my life changing moment of discovering this Youtube video of Pomeranian dogs wearing bread as a face mask**.