IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHELLE RANDOLPH
Interview by Jana Letonja
Michelle Randolph is one of the main stars in Paramount+ series ‘1923’, a prequel to the highly popular ‘Yellowstone’. Besides acting, Michelle is also the founder of the charity organization ‘House Cat’. After the success of ‘1923’, the series has already been renewed for a second season.
Michelle, how did it feel when you got cast on ‘1923’, a prequel to the very popular Paramount+ series ‘Yellowstone’?
Genuinely so exciting. I am honored to be a part of such a special story, one that so many people want to hear about and love. My dad is a huge ‘Yellowstone’ fan, so I had heard about the show for years and I watched ‘1883’ and loved it. I happened to be with my dad when Taylor Sheriden called to tell me I had been cast, which made it extra special for me.
How was it working with this cast on filming in Montana? What are some of your favorite memories from the set?
I really fell in love with Montana. We shot for about 5 months and spent just as much time together off set as we did on set. I feel so lucky to have made such great friends with the cast and crew. I think that is one of the best parts about shooting on location.
The most memorable days were when we shot the large exterior scenes and had the horses and wranglers with us. Before we started filming, we did ‘cowboy camp’ and all learned how to ride, rope, etc. Being in Montana throughout filming gave us the chance to embrace and embody that lifestyle.
In the series, you star as Liz Strafford, a feisty and capable young woman and Jack Dutton’s fiancée. How would you describe Liz? Are you and Liz similar in any ways?
We meet Liz at a crossroad. In just a short amount of time she is forced to postpone her wedding and essentially loses both her parents. This forces her to quickly say goodbye to the sheltered life she has known, as she chooses the tumultuous lifestyle that indisputably follows the Dutton family. As the season progresses, we see her begin that transition from idyllic childhood to a new and uncertain adulthood. Really in regards to who Elizabeth is in the show, I believe she represents hope.
Throughout the series, every character experiences these massive hardships and we see Elizabeth evolve and find her strength, all while keeping her sunshine. Elizabeth is who she is at her core. It’s rare when the hardships in life don’t change who someone is, and I find that beautiful. As far as how I resemble Elizabeth, I hope to represent the resilience and positivity that is core to Elizabeth. Life has a way of hardening you, if you let it.
Liz and Jack have a very sweet love story. How do you see their love story in your eyes? What do you wish for their love story for the second season?
Elizabeth’s family owned the ranch next to Yellowstone. She went to school on the east coast and spent her summers in Montana, which is where she fell in love with Jack Dutton. Their love initially feels young and innocent, but throughout the series they experience a lot of loss and hardship. Each of them, in their own way, are forced to adjust to this new reality. They must fight to not let it come between them and tear their love apart.
In season 2, I hope we see their love grow as they find strength in each other and as they use their circumstances to bond them further. Of course, I hope this means exciting adventures in the script for the two of them and I’d love to see Elizabeth pregnant again and able to start a family, something pivotal to the survival of the Yellowstone. We will see.
What are your favorite plot lines from the first season of ‘1923’?
I like them all. Taylor Sheridan is an amazing story teller and it is fascinating to see how he develops multiple storylines and weaves them all together.
Prior to getting cast on ‘1923’ you also launched your charity organization ‘House Cat’. What inspired you to start it?
I’m a cat lady. I’ve had cats my whole life and fostered for many years. My three cats are foster fails. Shelters are overflowing with animals that need homes and I think when people are searching for a pet, rescuing should be their intention.
I am very passionate about this. Basically, I started ‘House Cat’ to channel some of that passion into something productive. With my schedule, ‘House Cat’ gives me a way to support these organizations and their causes even when I am not home. It’s impossible to ignore the amount of financial and physical help rescues and shelters need. My sister Cassie and one of my best friends, Chandler, work on it with me and we hope to continue growing it.
How do you choose which organizations to work with?
We get a lot of suggestions from people who follow the charity. We pick a different rescue to support each time we release new products. It’s always hard to choose, but we have a long list and hope to eventually get to them all. We’ve donated to local rescues as well as places like ‘Milo’s Sanctuary’, which rescue disabled and terminally ill cats. We have also supported organizations internationally, like ‘Angels of Life Village for Stray Animals’ in Adana, Turkey and ‘Shelter Friend’ in Ukraine.
You have many passions and projects going on in your life these days. How do you balance it all, set priorities and manage to take time for yourself as well?
I’m very passionate about the things I give my time to, so even if it keeps my schedule a little crazy, I love it. I graduate from college in May, so I am definitely looking forward to permanently crossing homework off of my to-do list.
Michelle, tell us more about your upcoming acting and other projects.
I do have some exciting news. I can’t share yet, but I will as soon as I can.
talent MICHELLE RANDOLPH @michellerandolph
photographer & director GINA GIZELLA MANNING @gina_gizella
production company GIZELLA @gzlla
producer IAN SPENCER @ianicholaspencer
lighting director MIKE PECCI @mikepecci
DIT MIKE TRAN @dj_voltran
assistant MADY KANZ @whatsername3
MUA ALEXANDRA FRENCH @alexandraafrench
editor TIMOTEJ LETONJA @timiletonja