“God, this is so intimidating!” giggled Michelle DeShon as she sat down before a small group of journalists on the set of USA Network’s new drama, Satisfaction. The fresh-faced teen is not only starring in her first major role, rebellions free-spirit Anika Truman, Michelle was sitting down to her first press event…ever.
But this is a year filled with firsts for DeShon, and stepping outside of her comfort zone is exactly what earned her the coveted role. “When I went into the audition, everyone else had a guitar and I was like, ‘God, was I supposed to have a guitar?’ I don’t play and I didn’t even know I had to sing either. And I went in and they were like, ‘You have to sing,’ so I chose a song that I’d heard driving into the audition — a Carrie Underwood song.” She continued, “For the network test, they told me to bring a guitar, and I didn’t even have one so I borrowed my 10-year-old neighbor’s guitar and it was plastic and tiny. I watched a bunch of videos on YouTube and took 7 guitar lessons in 5 days and I guess they bought it! I faked it enough that they bought it.”
Music is at the core of Anika’s character, a barometer that reflects what she’s feeling. During the pilot, Anika sang a song about two of her teachers that I thought was the episode’s best moment, and I hope we’ll see more moments like these in future episodes. DeShon promised, “You see a lot more music and the music is a reflection of what’s going on, at an unconscious level. She doesn’t really know why she’s writing these lyrics, but it reflects back on to what’s happening.”
What actress wouldn’t be thrilled to land the plumb role of Anika? She’s smart, cool and has a closet of amazing clothes. “I wish I was more like her,” said DeShon. “She’s so brave and she’s doesn’t conform to anything. She teaches her parents that being true to yourself is the #1 thing. She’s not traditional at all.”
Satisfaction films far from celeb meccas New York and LA, and the cast and crew have developed a summer camp-like closeness. DeShon and her TV mom Stephanie Szostak live in the same apartment complex and sharing dinner has become an almost nightly ritual, which has worked to strengthen their on-screen relationship. “Stephanie and I will go to dinner and we’ll talk for hours about how to approach a scene,” she says. “I get nervous and I worry a lot. What’s going to happen? How’s it going to look? She tells me that I have to please myself before I can worry if I’m pleasing the network or the directors.” But her relationship with her TV dad, Matt Passmore is far less cerebral. “We play all of these pranks on each other,” she giggled. “The first week, I put a toilet monster in his trailer, it’s a plastic thing that you put under a toilet lid and it jumps out.”
The best gossip on a set can usually be gleaned by chatting with the hair and make-up department, so while the cast, crew and visiting press ate lunch together, I probed for details. “Michelle is just the nicest, sweetest young woman. We just adore her,” gushed a hairstylist named Trish. Then the entire department raved about DeShon’s fantastic tresses; a curly challenge that they relish styling, despite Atlanta’s humidity. A mane this enviable hasn’t graced TV screens since Keri Russell in Felicity.
While visiting the Atlanta set of Satisfaction, I also explored Anika’s room. It’s a hip pink-walled space filled with winged imagery: birds, butterflies and angels cover the walls. It makes me wonder if Anika is a bird trapped in a gilded cage, or rather, a bird ready to take flight.
When asked if she was anything like her character, DeShon deadpanned, “Yeah, I look like her.” With Michelle’s wit and grace, her role on a riveting show, and her commitment to her craft and the most enviable hair in Hollywood, Michelle DeShon is a bright young actress destined to shine.
Satisfaction premieres July 17 at 10pmET/PT on USA Network
image © Richard Ducree/USA Network
headshot from IMDB