YBY ep 294: Michelle Gilliam on thriving as an artist and pushing on through to the next big thing!

This week on Yes But Why, I talk to the confident and spectacular Michelle Gilliam.

Michelle Gilliam Improv MKE

photo credit: Sarah Rose Photography

Milwaukee born and raised, Michelle Gilliam is an improviser, actor, host, and voice actor. Michelle has been involved in improv comedy for over 20 years, through studying, performing, coaching, teaching, and directing.

Michelle is now based in Los Angeles, CA. As the Owner and Artistic Director of Improv MKE, she is building her improv comedy school and theater via online classes. Michelle had a strong base in the Milwaukee improv and theatrical scene and now she is connected to the Chicago, Boston, New York, Los Angeles communities as well as the international improv scene.

Michelle Gilliam Improv MKE

Michelle currently teaches for Improv MKE and The World’s Greatest Improv School and guest teaches at various theaters online and in person around the country and world. Michelle is also a leader in applied improv. Through her workshops, she has helped corporate teams and university departments to harness the power of improv as a tool and resource for creativity, empowerment, communication and much more.

Michelle Gilliam Improv MKE

In our conversation, Michelle talked about performing improvised operas with her mom as a kid. She shares the uphill battle of performing improv throughout high school and the disrespect she encountered at competitions. But Michelle is a confident and optimistic woman and she powered through. She knew improv was a big love in her life and she wasn’t going to let some snarky teens tear her away from it.

Michelle talks to me about the community she is building with Improv MKE. Her dreams of connecting with improvisers all over the world were fulfilled as her online workshops thrived during the pandemic. Now she is working on learning from the lessons of her peers and building a theater that champions bravery, inclusivity, and community.

Michelle has such a big heart. She cares so deeply for all of the artists she has connected with, on and off the stage. She is smart and determined and she attracts good people into her life. She’s in LA now so you would do well to connect with her through Improv MKE.Michelle Gilliam Improv MKE

Support Michelle Gilliam by taking a class with her or hiring her to host your next event. For bookings, contact Michelle Gilliam at michelle@improvmke.com . For more information on classes, jams, and anything improv-related, go to www.improvmke.com .

Michelle will be headlining the 2022 Edinburgh Scotland improv Festival in February and teaching two weekend intensives in Chester and Nottingham in the UK in March of 2022. If you are in that neighborhood, look her up and go see her! (And even if you are not from around there, maybe buy a plane ticket just to go support her; she’s THAT awesome!)

Michelle started an internationally attended online jam that has had 131 sessions to date. Check out ImprovMKE.com for details about the upcoming sessions after the holiday!


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This episode of Yes But Why is also sponsored by True Hemp Science! True Hemp Science is our Austin-based resource for vegan friendly, whole plant extract CBD oil. Go to TrueHempScience.com to peruse all the therapeutic CBD product options! Use code YesButWhy7 to get 7% off your order of $50 or more and get a free packet of 2 CBD edibles!





(production notes: recorded via ZOOM on 11/3/2021…posted on 12/20/2021)

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