Alabama alum following dreams in the Big Apple

Students, especially those in small college towns, have great dreams. Their futures lie before them, the possibilities bounded only by their imaginations. Skeptical parents typically hold their breath, waiting for their sons and daughters to outgrow silly dreams and cycle back to the “real” world. But sometimes the students don’t give up on their dreams. Sometimes their dreams become realities.

Michelle Glick, a Northport native and Alabama alum, is a case in point.

Glick and her husband, Phillip Wolter, operate FilmGym, an independent production company in New York City. For the second straight year, a short film she produced almost found its way on the Academy Award ballot. The short film – “The Sea is All I Know” – features Academy Award winner Melissa Leo ("The Fighter") and follows last year’s success of “The Bridge,” another film that garnered Oscar consideration.

“Each year I’ve gained a little more momentum, and I’m just beginning to see the fruits of years of hard work,” Glick said.

That hard work began in Alabama. Her mother’s Vietnamese culture and a subscription to National Geographic lit Glick’s fire at an early age. And while waiting tables at DePalmas and studying her way toward two degrees, Glick developed an insatiable curiosity.

“It’s just something inside of me,” Glick said.

Using her people skills to form friendships with a diverse array of students, Glick credits the University with fueling the fire burning within her since childhood.

“It offers all sorts of experiences, but it’s up to you to seek them out,” Glick said. “Once you’re past school, you don’t have those gaps of time to travel or those opportunities to take different classes.”

She took advantage of those opportunities, using free time to travel abroad and school time to broaden herself. Her father, like many, expected a moneymaking degree – one focused more on the sciences and less on the arts. Glick tried to appease him, changing her major often, but always finding her way back to her artistic nature. After graduating in 1999, she enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, at first neglecting to tell her parents that she was moving to New York.

“I shut out the people in my ear telling me to do this and that,” Glick said. “I had to do what made me happy.”

As an aspiring actress working in New York, Glick has mixed feelings about the lifestyle. While the existence has had some thrilling moments, she sometimes yearns for stability. The economic shock did not initially help that yearning as auditions became fewer and farther between. But it did force her to get creative.

“That rug got pulled out from under me,” Glick said. “I started writing and producing out of necessity.”

The ingenuity has paid off. FilmGym’s films have reeled in awards from festivals around the world, such as the China First International Film Festival and the Sonoma Film Festival. Currently, Glick and her husband are busy editing another film, hosting workshops to support the work of others, all while constantly auditioning.

While Glick has been enjoying her small but thriving part of the Big Apple, she hasn’t forgotten Alabama.

“Even though you may try to escape it, where you grow up is a big part of who you are,” Glick said.

And when colleagues or passersby poke fun at the South, she is quick to defend the homeland.

“That fiery southern lady comes out.”

To find out more about Glick, her movies or the workshops check out filmgym.com.

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