Michelle Miller ’11

A dark-haired woman sits in a navy-blue director's chair with a "Blue Bloods" logo on the back.
Courtesy Michelle Miller
Michelle Miller ’11

New York City native Michelle Miller ’11 knew from the second grade on what she was born to do: act. Her elementary-school drama program led to a couple of appearances on “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” star turns in school plays, then a role in an off-Broadway production.

By the time she got to Brandeis, where she double-majored in English and theater arts, and minored in business, Miller was a working actor. After graduation, she booked co-starring parts on the TV shows “Homeland” and “Blue Bloods.” A coveted line (though it was cut from the final print) in the big-budget film “Winter’s Tale,” which starred Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe and Will Smith. A supporting role in the movie “Bomber Jackets.” The title role in MTV’s “One Bad Choice: Dona Huertas.”

Miller still loves to act. But, as is true for 99% of professional actors, the jobs usually don’t cover the bills. So, ever the resourceful Brandeisian, she found additional work that would. She’s a hand model (recent Samsung phone commercials capture her digits in action). She teaches communication skills to corporate and individual clients. 

One particular sideline, however, has elevated Miller’s profile in the entertainment industry. She is the creator and host of the podcast “Mentors on the Mic” (Instagram: @Mentorsonthemic) — currently in its third season — in which bigwigs advise young hopefuls on how to enter and climb the showbiz ranks, both in front of and behind the cameras. Recent guests have included actor Tony Goldwyn ’82, director/writer Rob Burnett (who won five Emmys as executive producer and head writer at “The Late Show With David Letterman”) and Netflix creative director Kara Barnett.

Miller is giving back to the Brandeis community through a similar project. She and Arnon Shorr ’05 host “Showbiz@Deis,” a series of video programs presented online and on YouTube through the Brandeis University Alumni Association. In each installment, a panel of Brandeisians who’ve found success in the entertainment world — such as director Rosemary Rodriguez ’83, producer/writer/director Marshall Herskovitz ’73 and showrunner Marta Kauffman ’78, H’20 — discuss their career paths.

Versatility, Miller says, has become a key element of her creative journey. As Beau Black, who composes music for Disney (he’s also Miller’s cousin), advised listeners during his “Mentors on the Mic” interview, “Don’t get all high and mighty about your art. Art is fluid. It’s not precious. It’s supposed to constantly move.”

Miller says she’s deriving great joy from connecting people with life-changing mentors, jobs and ideas. Another big plus: Being in control of what she does and when she does it. She’s not waiting around for someone to decide she’s right for an acting job. “Mentors on the Mic” has let her tailor her best role yet: influential storyteller, producer, director, creative director and casting director, all in one.

What was your idea of perfect happiness when you were at Brandeis?

Acting in a student film or play, or watching a student-events concert I helped organize.

Who was your favorite Brandeis professor?

I had three: Adrianne Krstansky, Janet Morrison and Susan Dibble, in the theater arts department.

If you could be any other Brandeisian, who would it be?

Leadership expert Simon Sinek ’95 or actor Debra Messing ’90.

What is the most important value you learned at Brandeis?


What was the most important shortcut you learned in college?

You don’t have to read every required book if you can identify a strong argument and concentrate on finding evidence to prove it.

Which talent did Brandeis help you develop most?

To communicate effectively.

What do you wish you had studied harder?

Theater history. I also wish I had taken classes in film, neuroscience and art history.

What is your blind spot?

Never being able to turn down a Sunkist.

What three words of advice would you give to current Brandeis students?

Get a mentor.

What would your friends say is your greatest strength?


If you could go back to college, what would you do differently?

I would have created my own work that I could act in, pursued more mentors in my field and looked for internships in a casting office or an agent’s office.

What would your friends say is your greatest weakness?

I’ve been known to commit to too many projects.

What book do you read again and again?

“Creating Affluence,” by Deepak Chopra, and “Tribe of Mentors,” by Timothy Ferriss.

Whom would you like to sing a duet with?

My karaoke partner, Ji Yun Lee ’11.

What movie changed your life?

Akiva Goldsman directed me in “Winter’s Tale,” the first big feature film I ever booked. He wrote “A Beautiful Mind,” which is one of my favorite films.

If you could climb into a time machine, whom would you like to hang out with?

My Grandma Shirley, who died when I was a kid, and Audrey Hepburn.

Which deadly sin is your middle name?

Probably envy. I recently set up filters on Instagram to help me avoid making both conscious and unconscious comparisons.

On your deathbed, what will you be most grateful for?

My family.