What does it take to make your big dreams come true? For Aurelia Michael ’08, it took hard work, a lot of passion and driving across the country a few times.

Even with no formal training, Michael followed her love for performing from the University of Maryland to, now, a Broadway show. She is currently performing in “The Donna Summer Musical,” which tells the story of a Donna Summer’s journey to become a star and her inspiration on musicians that followed.

“We are telling a story about someone who is no longer with us and we want to make sure we are honoring her every night to the best of our abilities,” says Michael. “It is such an incredible opportunity.”

But, Michael didn’t get her start in theater at the university. In fact, she was a modern dance major. She used her time wisely in order to be part of the world she loved: Hip-Hop.

“I had my own dance team which is still there that I started in 2004 called Dynamic,” Michael says. “They’re still going strong and will definitely outlive me!”

After graduation, Michael continued to follow her passion by moving to her home, New York, to pursue hip-hop dance. She made her first cross-country move to Los Angeles, where she lived for two years before deciding to seek something new.

“I just woke up one morning and decided to pursue Broadway,” Michael says. “So I drove my car back across the country to New York last January and worked very hard.”

After eight months, her hard work paid off. She got a contract for a show back across the county in San Diego — until the show ended up taking her to where she is now: Broadway.

“One of the most important things to reach your goal is to believe in your talent. Be hardworking and have a good work ethic,” Michael says.

Working on “The Donna Summer Musical” carries a lot of weight, Michael says, because the cast wants to honor Summer every night, along with her family and friends. The show has racked up a host of nominations, including Outstanding Ensemble at the Chita Rivera Awards and two Tony nominations.

“It has been a great experience to perform with these incredible people, who have been doing musical theatre their whole lives,” Michael says. “A lot of the things I do in the show are things that I have trained for under hip hop, which became very vital to the musical.”

Even after pursuing show business, Michael stays connected to the university by coming back to see the Dynamic Dance Team and working with them no matter where her jobs take her.

“We have a very strong alumni program, so people living in New York and abroad make sure to come back to their events and support them in any way possible,” Michael says.

Through her experiences, Michael has learned she wouldn’t be where she is today without the work ethic she developed during her time at Maryland.

“I worked my behind off for months in class and still got a C+, but I graduated and I thought if I could do this and graduate still with above a 3.0, which was my goal from the beginning, then I could do anything by working hard,” Michael says.

As a life and career coach for artists and professionals, Michael encourages clients to believe in themselves and their talent. Don't compete and compare yourself with other people, she says.

“Be you, everyone else is already taken,” Michael explains.

Read more about Michael on her website and follow her journey on Social Media @Aurelia_Michael

 

-By Samantha Weissberg ’20