Michael Fishman sat down with The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk in the latest episode of “At Home With The Creative Coalition,” a podcast featuring unplugged and uncensored conversations with today’s biggest stars. In the newest episode, Fishman talks about how he made himself stand out from other child actors to get a role in ‘Roseanne,’ the intense controversy surrounding Roseanne Barr’s scandalous tweet, being a working parent at 18 years old, and more. Highlights below.
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Highlights from “At Home With The Creative Coalition” featuring Michael Fishman —
On why he got selected for ‘Roseanne’:
“The second audition I met her, and she said ‘tell me a joke.’ And what I found out later was that most of these — it sounds funny now — professional acting kids would say ‘Oh, I’m not prepared for that’ or would freeze up because they didn’t know what to say, and I was like ‘Sure.’ We did jokes all the time. I have an older sister, but I also have two cousins who lived with us. That’s all we did, was try and make each other laugh. I said ‘Why did the turtle cross the road? Chicken’s day off.’ Not bad for a six-year-old, and that’s, I think, what she resonated with, is that I was a normal kid. In a sea of, kind of, polished entertainment people, I was a normal kid that she could kind of connect with and vibe with.”
On if he ever turned to other characters on ‘Roseanne’ for personal advice or support:
“I think there’s lots of those cases. I’ve turned to them for everything like, Roseanne was one of the first people I called when I was getting married, when I was really young and going to have a child, because I wanted her to hear it from me and not through the press, and I asked her for advice, because she had been a young mom. You know, John [Goodman] and I have had conversations both for business things but also personal throughout the years. Laurie Metcalf, I grew up at her house because her daughter Zoe Perry was one of my very best friends growing up, and I used to spend the night over there. And I would awe in the way that she talked to her daughter, because they were so much more open communicationally than my family was. My family was a lot more, probably, religious and conservative and very selective about what we talked about, and she was just so open. So I’ve tried to carry a lot of that forward in my life as a parent.”
On how old he was when he became a parent and how it affected him:
“18. And probably the best decision of my life. I knew what I wanted. I was helping to raise my little brother. My dad had taken a job and he was supposed to be a partner and the other person backed out and kind of left him holding the bag and my mom had just taken a promotion and my little brother was just labor intensive, and needed somebody that was there all the time. So, when I met [my future children’s] mom, I was already taking care of this kid, so we kind of start having these conversations about like ‘should we wait?’ And it was the greatest gift. I mean, I think any parent can tell you that having kids is the most beautiful thing. And it’s never ending, and you’re not sure if you’re ever doing it right, and you don’t want to blow it. They don’t come with manuals, they’re all different, so it was a beautiful gift. But that also helped lead me back to this business because you start looking at this baby and you think to yourself, you want them to chase their dreams. You want to guide them. And what is it that you want to do what’s your dream?”
On the fallout of Roseanne’s controversial Twitter scandal and getting death threats:
“My phone rang at six o’clock in the morning. And I already had 25 emails looking for reactions. I had no idea what was going on, because the tweet had been taken down, and it hadn’t hit the news, so there was nothing to find. I’m searching, and people were asking me for a comment or a response, and I didn’t have one. And, you know, when we first came back, because we did a lot of political stuff — on both sides, we really balanced the show — but I had been the most outspoken because there were a lot of people who were worried about us being xenophobic or insensitive in a lot of ways. And that had never my experience growing up and had never been my experience going through — so I was pretty vocal about it, so I was obviously the person people wanted a response from. So, then you start to kind of get an idea of what happened, and then all of a sudden people start posting screenshots…. Then you start realize realizing people are quitting. Wanda Sykes quit, and there was all of this stuff. This is all before seven o’clock. By seven o’clock in the morning I got my first death threat on my home phone. We still had a home landline and the answering machine goes off and it’s a death threat because of what she said…. And then, suddenly, she attacked me on social media and then it was very public for the world to see, and then I started getting the death threats from the other side…. I know, in hindsight, that she would want it back, and that she would do it different. And I think more than anything, what we have to remember is that human beings make mistakes, that people have to grow from their mistakes, but there are certain things that are just not appropriate, and not okay, and I’ll stand by what I said that day: there’s no place for us to be prejudicial or bigoted in any way, we have to be very clear about the messages we send out into the world, especially as individuals.
On being a working parent and his advice on raising children:
“I think everybody who’s a working parent know: you can’t be everything all the time. We can try, but you learn who to trust, you learn how to find the right people to provide information and wisdom to your kids for the moments that you can’t, and then I always have felt that the most important role I’ll ever have is being a dad. I have four. Two biological and two adopted. The last year and a half’s been really complex for us. Guiding an older son who’s away at college. My oldest daughter is a young filmmaker, a young woman of color trying to kind of find her way in this business. And I’d already been such an advocate for inclusion, but it hits different when you watch some of the frustrations she has. My youngest is getting ready to go off to college, she’s an athlete. And then, my youngest son passed away about a year ago. So what I would tell people is, I certainly didn’t succeed in every aspect of it, and I wish I had had more time, and what I would tell people more than anything is: celebrate the moments, celebrate the time you get, because you don’t know how much time you get. And I think it’s very important to encourage your kids to chase their dreams. All of my kids have very different dreams, and I have to support them and love them in different ways, because they’re different people. And so, you let them kind of tell you what they want, and you be the support structure.”
More about “At Home With The Creative Coalition”
Hosted by The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk, “At Home With The Creative Coalition” brings listeners intimate portraits, key moments of discovery, and “art and soul” conversations with iconic entertainment industry personalities from the big screen to the boardroom, from L.A. to D.C. Listen now at http://thecreativecoalition.org/podcast.
Upcoming guests include Mädchen Amick (“Riverdale”), Shiri Appleby (“UnREAL”), Justin Bartha (“The Hangover,” “National Treasure”), Willie Garson (“And Just Like That…”), Nicholas Gonzalez (“La Brea,” “The Good Doctor”), Tony Hale (“The Mysterious Benedict Society,” “Arrested Development”), Patricia Heaton (“Carol’s Second Act,” “The Middle”), New York Times Bestselling Author Susan Isaacs (“Compromising Positions”), Aasif Mandvi (“Evil”), Rachel Mason (“Circus of Books”), International Bestselling Author Patrick McGinnis (“The 10% Entrepreneur,” “Fear of Missing Out”), Yolonda Ross (“The Chi”), Reid Scott (“Echo”), Mona Scott-Young (“Love & Hip Hop,” “The Gossip Game”), Krista Vernoff (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Station 19”), and Matt Walsh (“Veep”).
Previous guests include Jason Alexander (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), David Alan Basche (“The Exes”), Asante Blackk (“This Is Us”), Carly Chaikin (“Mr. Robot”), Wilson Cruz (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Alan Cumming (“Briarpatch”), Ethan Cutkosky (“Shameless”), The Creative Coalition President and actor Tim Daly (“Madam Secretary”), Lea DeLaria (“Orange Is the New Black”), Jim Gaffigan (“The Jim Gaffigan Show”), Griffin Dunne (“This Is Us”), Judy Gold (“The Other F Word”), Clark Gregg (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), Jon Huertas (“This Is Us,” “Castle”), Jason Isaacs (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Richard Kind (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Chad Lowe (“Supergirl”), Marlee Matlin (“CODA,” “The West Wing”), AnnaLynne McCord (“Let’s Get Physical”), Eric McCormack (“Will and Grace”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs”), Katherine McNamara (“Shadowhunters”), Marta Milans (“Shazam!”), Rob Morrow (“Billions”), Kathy Najimy (“Duncanville”), Haley Joel Osment (“Future Man,” “Entourage”), Bill Prady (“The Big Bang Theory”), Jessica Queller (“Supergirl”), Anthony Rapp (“Rent”), Julie Taymor (“The Lion King”), Alfre Woodard (“Clemency,” “Luke Cage”), Constance Zimmer (“Good Trouble”), and David Zucker (“Airplane!,” “Scary Movie”).
More about The Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating, mobilizing, and activating its members on issues of public importance. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s President. The Creative Coalition also creates award-winning public service campaigns including #RightToBearArts to promote the efficacy of the arts. The Creative Coalition harnesses the unique platforms of the arts community and entertainment industry to make positive impacts on social welfare issues. For more information, visit https://thecreativecoalition.org.