Michael Fishman is known to many for playing D.J. Conner on the long-running TV series Roseanne and its spin-off show, The Conners, but beyond the screen he has guided a path for himself unlike many others.
Fishman was first on-camera at a very young age - becoming an overnight child star - who could have fallen victim to how other young actors did with handling the spotlight. However, through the positive mentorship and surrounding himself with the right adults, Fishman not only grew into the adult star he is today, but proved he is unlike others in his industry.
While he still appears on The Conners, acting isn’t the only thing Fishman is doing. While he directs/produces other features with his company Mclusive Media, he has also used his ‘star-power’ to give back to those in need; Recently he gave back hundreds of thousands of masks and supplies to homeless shelters, Veterans and other non-profit organizations across the Southern California region.
We caught up for an exclusive one-on-one interview with Fishman, where we learned more about his path through Hollywood and what he is like behind the screens we see him on.
Rewind with us: How was it being a child star and growing up "in Hollywood" publicly?
Growing up famous is a magnifying glass, whoever you are, whatever mistakes you make the whole world will see them. You are thrust into an adult world, and all your choices have lifelong implications. I listened closely to the experiences of the adults around me and it really has motivated me to give back.
What do you think you did differently that allowed you to stay grounded, whereas a lot of child stars have gone off the ropes and had difficulties in life?
My parents made sure I went to public school, played sports, and did a lot of the things my neighborhood peers were doing. That laid a foundation of perspective. Growing up in a diverse environment with people of all religions, orientations, races, and belief systems opened my mind inspiring my lifelong goals of positive professionalism and inclusion.
While you are known to many for your role on The Conners, you also do a lot of work behind the scenes. Tell us about your new production company?
Mclusive Media is a partnership designed to create groundbreaking original content telling heartfelt and inclusive stories. Our passion is connecting and simpering audiences by creating media featuring characters and situations as diverse as the world we live in. Our projects are collaborative in front of and behind the camera, creating communities, drawing on authentic storytelling to share visceral experiences.
And you also have a couple non-profit organizations that have been doing some incredible things. Tell us about them!
Our professional mission at Mclusive Media directly created our social outreach charity WeComend. As the name suggests it is about coming together to mend communities, and provide opportunities to underprivileged or under represented communities. Our largest portion is creating mentorship, training, and access for people to learn the skills they need to create a more diverse and inclusive entertainment industry. We are coordinating events with local professional unions and industry professionals to help people gain the skills they need to successfully enter our industry.
Motivated by our love of nature, my youngest daughter and I began Altruistic Acres. Altruistic Acres is an environmental non-profit designed to take practical action for conservation, environmental cleanup, habitat revitalization, and increase ecological safe spaces for animals and humanity. We began with grass roots environmental cleanups, but our goal is to raise capital to acquire, protect, and sustain key environmental areas worldwide to counteract deforestation, pollution, and climate change.
Why is it important to you to give back as much as you can?
I have always believed we have to be the change we want to see in the world. Growing up famous I had access, awareness, and an elevated voice. I believe that if we have the opportunity to leave the world a better place, empower others, and improve our world it is our responsibility to do so. I am always looking to partner with, and surround myself with people who want to leave a positive legacy. I have been doing humanitarian and volunteer work for over thirty years, you never know how many lives you can uplift simply by acts of kindness each day.
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How important is social media these days overall to getting messages out there?
I use my social media differently than most, it isn’t just a highlight reel or sales pitch, I authentically interact, strive to uplift, and share my challenges. For the first time in history we can reach the whole world instantly. It provides a powerful opportunity to connect, share truths, learn lessons, and grow individually and collectively. I learn something every day from people I might not ever meet in person. So once again I think it is imperative I try to positively impact people to feel better, chase their dreams, overcome setbacks, care for their mental health, and be kind to each other.
What would your ultimate role in the future be?
My roles are different based on the portion of life. My ultimate personal role will always be a father, and one day a grandfather. My job is to be a support structure and never forget to share love, be supportive, and honor the commitment I made.
Professionally, it is to create a more positively collaborative and inclusive industry. As an actor I want to entertain, inspire, and uplift. An opportunity to do more actions would be ideal, but anything heartfelt, because life has taught me has taught me vulnerability. As a writer I want to provide great work for others, and help people feel understood and inspired. When directing, I want to bring out each performer’s superpower. I want them to feel empowered and supported to reach new heights by creating environments for fearlessness. As a producer, I build productions as diverse as the society we live in. I will launch new careers, creating a lineage of talented people who do great work, with kindness, utilizing their individuality, to cultivate inclusivity.
Globally, my role is to take the investment of business partners, audiences, friends, and family, in me, and leave the world better through gratitude, and humanitarianism. My life and role is a cycle of paying it forward that I hope leaves positive reverberations.