‘It’s never too late to reinvent yourself,” says Chicago native Michelle Alegria who, in 2011 after 10 years of working as a reporter on WLS-Channel 7’s “190 North,” decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. She’s already scored movie roles — playing, you guessed it, TV reporters — in two major films: Sofia Coppola’s summer hit “The Bling Ring,” and the recently wrapped “Dawn Patrol” with Rita Wilson and Scott Eastwood (Clint’s son).
Alegria says making the leap to the West Coast with three small children was no easy decision, but she hasn’t looked back. “It was scary to uproot my family,” she says. “You just have to have faith that you’re doing the right thing.” Judging by her near-instant success — she’s also landed several national TV commercials, including spots for Honda and Mike & Ike candy — it was the right choice.
In transition: “My first year-and-a-half here was spent training. I wanted to learn everything there was to know about getting into character. I didn’t want to be just a pretty face. Soon, I found a manager who also works as an agent, and he started sending me out on auditions. They were all cattle calls. But you never know what [casting directors] are looking for.”
Role call: “It’s important to find a common thread between you and the character. It wasn’t hard playing a reporter — it was so fun. But I am so ready to delve into something really juicy and mysterious.”
Body language: “I eat less sandwiches and pizza now. In Chicago, you have that temptation on every corner. Out here, it’s all about juice and veganism and living well and feeling well. I run along the beach every morning and I can do it all year long, unlike in Chicago, where you have to run in a gym during the winter because it’s so cold. I grow my own garden too, so I’m eating fresh.”
Star gazing: “Sofia Coppola is such a lady and so welcoming. She is so gracious; she’s almost timid. It was an honor to work with her, and I hope I can work with her again. When Scott Eastwood first walked past me, I started shaking. He is delicious!”
Story by Liz Crokin