Instead of being based in LA LA land, Micheal resides in Orlando, so he can be close to his parents. In particular, his dad, a veteran, who is disabled.
Also, he is heavily involved in using his celebrity for the good of others, not just using it, as so many other stars do, for a photo-op.
From Heart foundations to cancer and to the bravest kids in the world fighting for their lives, Michael works tirelessly to raise awareness.
Here’s out Q & A with him…We’re sure you’ll warm to him just as we have, and see why his star is on the rise.
Celebzter: How did you get into acting?
Michael: Acting was always an “Escape” for me. No matter what was going on in my life, good or bad, when we went to the movies everything was just perfect. Watching the “Hero” save the “Damsel in distress” was a rush for me even at the ripe young age of 6. I remember watching Chuck Norris, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Armand Assante and I would just be in awe of the presence that they bring to the screen. Seeing the reaction from the audience , I was hooked and knew I wanted to be an actor.
Celebzter: Did you know from a young age that was what you wanted to do?
MichaeI: was very blessed at a very early age, knowing what made me happy and knowing what my passion was, even when you don’t understand why, or what the definition of “Passion” is. All I knew is , I wanted to entertain and make other people feel as good as I felt when I watched a movie. My goal, even when I was barely walking, was to make other people feel good and try to entertain them in some way. I remember my sisters asking me to “Do the Hulk”..and I would rip my shirt off like Lou Ferrigno. Mom wasn’t happy, but I wanted to be a superhero so bad, I would rip off every shirt I had in the house. The reaction was what I loved, and what I was addicted to. To me, being a “superhero” at 6 years old, ripping off my shirt, and pretending to be the Hulk felt like an Oscar-winning performance every time. As I grew up chasing a dream that everyone told me was a “waste of time”, I never quite understood that statement. The reason that never bothered me was because my goal was never fame or money, my goal was to take someone on a Journey with my performance, and help them forget their problems for an hour and a half. No matter what was going on in their lives, I wanted to help them forget any problems or issues , just like my family had, and inspired or motivated them in some way. To me actors were the most powerful people in the world, because they can influence anyone at any age in so many different ways. I wanted to use that power in the best way I could and influence people in the best way I knew how, and that was to tell great stories. I think its our responsibility as entertainers to always put the audience first and always allow them to feel satisfied after investing their time with us . I consider them, the audience , my real Boss.
Michael: I don’t think it was a particular “Break” in any certain film , as much as it was a break in receiving a good reputation for my work ethic and consistency as a credible actor. I think through the years I’ve been very fortunate to work with some very professional and passionate artists. My rule was to always work with someone willing to give it their all behind the camera , as mush as I was willing to give it my all in front of the camera. I think it’s just as important for us (The actor) to “Qualify” who you’re about to work for, as much as they qualify you through the audition or casting process . I learned that early on and it helped me get ahead of the curve. I knew if I didn’t say yes to “everything” and “everyone” and worked with quality projects, and professional people only , I would be taken serious quicker and that’s exactly what happened. I think being able to recognize that game plan early, it allowed me to be part of many award-winning projects and brought quality recognition in Acting . Being called the “Next Big Name” in Hollywood, and winning awards always feels amazing and not one day goes by that I take that for granted, but I always relied on one motto that keeps me grounded, it goes like this , ” You’re never as good as you think, or as bad as people say”…that always seemed to keep me focused on the most important thing, “The audience”, and realize its never all about “Me”. I’m my own worst critic in a big way and always push myself to be the best I can, and as long as fans want to see me perform again and again , that’s my reward, and my Award! That’s what feels great, Knowing that people genuinely support me and support my career , and to get to do what I absolutely adore for a living, is priceless. That’s my goal every film. To never feel like I took advantage of someone who invested their time and money to see me. I never want to try to fool the audience, because I feel that’s impossible!
Celebzter: Can you tell us a bit about your forthcoming big roles?
Michael:I’m so excited about the future that I have to sometimes just stop and look in the mirror and say..”wow, I’m actually living my dream”. In just a few weeks I’m off to the Big Apple, New York City to actually work with one on my childhood Idols, The Iconic Mr Armand Assante, know for Gotti and American Gangster, in a Film called “Concrete Jungle”. Written by the great Steve Fleming and Directed by James Russo. When I heard Mr. Fleming had me in mind from day one when he was writing the script , I was extremely honored. That’s the biggest compliment you can receive as an actor, and here it is, happening to me..! When I found out who the rest of this amazing cast was, I was even more excited and extremely thankful. On board is the Legendary William Forsythe of the Emmy Nominated and Golden Globe winning series “Boardwalk Empire”, the super talented Andrew Roth, Kevin Gage from huge hits like Heat & Blow , James Russo of Donnie Brasco , and Public Enemies and Michael Wright , from Oz and the Five heartbeats. Its going to be one incredible project and one that I can’t wait to get started. After that amazing production, there’s no time for rest just yet. I’m home for a few months preparing for my next incredible project , and I’m right back to New York and we start production on “The Preyers”, written by the very well know Mr.Ernie Lijoi Sr.. The production is still in development so I can’t say too much, but what I can say is that on this production, I get to share the set with some of the biggest MOVIE STARS on the planet. I’m just blown away with the level trust and faith that I’m receiving in my career right now. I went from pursuing a dream alone to now possibly sharing that dream with Hundreds of thousands even Millions of people! To say that I’m in a position to exchange dialogue and share the silver screen with some of my childhood Idols growing up , just proves that anything is possible and really makes a man become extremely grateful ! I’m literally speechless, and believe me, being Italian, that’s almost impossible!! To be able to wake up every morning with an attitude of gratitude , and say I’m an actor, is the biggest blessing in the world for me.
Celebzter: What inspires you?
Michael: My family is the most motivating factor in my life. My parents have always been my inspiration. No matter what I needed to do, or how much the odds were against me, my family would always get me through it. I’m inspired by the amount of unbelievable support I receive through my fans who I consider my family. The Santourage ( Santi’s Entourage of fan support) is the best fans a guy can have. They inspire me with amazing comments, e-mails, and dedication in my career and in me as a human being. I realize its not just about me anymore, it’s about the people who believe in me as well. I think in some way, people can relate to me because I say it like it is and keep it very real, and only speak from the heart. I don’t keep secrets and talk about how easy things are, and they go through the struggles and triumphs along side of me. At the end of the day, they know if I can make it, someone who had every reason not too, they know they can as well. So, in reality we all inspire each other.
Michael: Determined, Driven, Humble, Grateful, Curious
Celebzter: Can you tell us about growing up in Orlando?
Michael: Being born in Brooklyn, N.Y, moving to Orlando Fla , was quite the “culture Shock” at first. Growing up here , I have grown to absolutely love Orlando, for all the amazing people, places and opportunities that brought me to where I am today. The schools are big on sports and the weather allows you to enjoy the out doors all year round. I believe those two reason alone allowed me to take interest in being active and fit, something that has sort of been a character trait in most of my film work. Besides, living right next door the “Happiest Place On Earth” how could you ever take that for granted! Orlando is not the “film capital” of the world, so it definitely allowed me to appreciate and respect any level of success I saw in film. I think living in Orlando, forced me to work that much harder to get the recognition that you need to succeed as a “working actor”. Just like many other states, Orlando is known for being a place where “Stars” come to retire or to vacation, not a place where they start out, so it really forces you to create and develop a strong work ethic so you can stand out . I thank God everyday that I come from a place that made me want it more and work even harder. I have a lot to be thankful, and grateful of , because of the great city of Orlando.
Michael: Ever since I can remember, my father has always had health issues. In fact, I’m use to all the trips to the hospital on a regular basis to make sure he gets the proper care and attention he deserves. My father is a veteran and 100 % disabled, so being close to my parents is the most important thing in the world to me. My father gets the best care he can get right here in Orlando and I won’t jeopardize that care by relocating him right now. I have heard it time and time again…you have to be in LA if you want to make it big. My reply is , “Well, I would rather never make it, if it meant not being there when my parents needed me the most”..and believe me , there were plenty of close calls. The great news is that sticking to my guns, and never questioning that decision nor my integrity , was the best decision I could have ever made. I proved to the “masses”, that you don’t have to do what people expect you to do to make it in “Show business”. I always felt that If I’m being cast for a certain project, and people really think that I’m the right person for the job , then distance should never be an issue over success. If I’m going to bring any sort of success, or contribute to their project the way they feel I can, then I’m sure, there is always a way to make it happen, and thank God it always worked out. Know what your real priorities are in life and never sell your soul, and you can still be recognized and become successful . My family will always come first.
Michael: To say that I’m Affiliated with one ‘Particular’ charity wouldn’t be accurate. I’ve always been the type to “want to save the world”. From Heart foundations to cancer, to the bravest kids in the world fighting for their lives, I’m always going to be there. When ever I can contribute to a cause in any capacity, I will. How can you choose who gets help, I know I can’t. Food drives, telethons, walks , and runs for charities, if I’m free and if my name can be affiliated with finding some help for people in need….I’m ready to lend a hand for the less fortunate and speak for those who can’t speak for themselves! I feel that with any spotlight you receive as an artist in any form of art, it’s your duty and your responsibility to take that spotlight and shine it on those that are in need of light.
Celebzter: What message do you want to get out there, to other actors who are trying to get their first break?
Michael: It really comes down to that old cliché’, Believe in yourself , not what people tell you to believe in. I’m the poster child for a person who had every reason to give up a long time ago. The circumstances and situations in my life said I wasn’t suppose to win. I never gave into that belief. Just like many people reading this that doubt what their really meant to do with their lives. We all have a thousand reasons why we cant win, and one reason why we should. The key is to focus on the one reason, a thousand percent of the time. The reason I see some light at the end of the tunnel now, is because the loudest voice in my head “Was Me”. I never allowed anyone to steal my dream. Is it easy? No , but I knew I would rather sacrifice and struggle in a career that I loved with a small chance to achieve my Dreams, then to sacrifice and struggle in a career that I hated with ‘No Chance” of achieving my Dreams. My point is, I never thought for a second that I couldn’t reach my goal …nobody could convince me other wise. To me, it was never a matter of “If “, it was only a matter of “When”. If it’s that important to you, you will find a way! Dreams really do come true. Believe in your Dream, believe its possible and believe you’re worth it. I don’t care what your Dream is, if you want to be a Doctor , a lawyer, police officer, or President of the United States…it all starts with 100% belief! At the end of the day, we are all little kids ripping our shirts off playing “Super Hero” and chasing a dream.