AJ Michalka is an American actor, singer-songwriter, musician, and former model, best known as one half of the musician duo ‘Aly and AJ.’ She performs along with her sister, Aly Michalka. Born in Torrance, California, AJ was inspired by her mother, Carrie, who herself was a musician. AJ spent most of her childhood years in Torrance, Seattle, and Milwaukee. The sisters grew up playing the guitar and the piano at an early age. By the time they stepped into teenhood, they were well-versed in their domain. AJ began acting when she was 5 years old and played roles in theatrical productions held at churches. AJ was also active in her school’s musical productions. AJ made her acting debut in 2002, as an 11-year-old child with a small role in the series ‘Passions.’ Over time, she appeared in key roles in series such as ‘The Guardian,’ ‘Oliver Beene,’ and ‘All My Friends are Getting Married.’ She is perhaps best known for appearing in a recurring/regular role in the sitcom ‘The Goldbergs.’ She has appeared in films such as ‘Secretariat’ and ‘Angels in Stardust.’ Forming a musical duo with her older sister, Aly, she released her debut album, ‘Into the Rush,’ in 2005 and has since released two more albums.
Childhood & Early Life
AJ Michalka was born Amanda Joy Michalka, on April 10, 1991, in Torrance, California. She was the younger of the two children in the family. Her father, Mark Michalka, is of German ancestry, while her mother, Carrie Michalka, is of Welsh, Irish, Scottish, and German descent. Her mother was a musical star back in her days and played in a Christian band named ‘JC Band.’ Carrie was also a cheerleader for the ‘National Football League’ (NFL) team ‘Oakland Raiders.’ AJ’s father owns a construction company.
The sisters were raised according to strong Christian beliefs. AJ was also interested in music and acting since a tender age. She learned to play the guitar and the piano before she was even 10 years old. She had also started acting at the age of 5. As a child, she performed in theatrical plays organized at local churches.
The family moved around when AJ was little. She spent time in Seattle and Milwaukee as a kid. AJ was also homeschooled for a large part during her childhood. A major reason for her being homeschooled was her involvement with professional acting since a tender age. By the time she was 11 years old, she had already made her TV debut.
She attended ‘Mack Elementary School’ in Milwaukee and participated in school musicals. Over time, she became highly interested in the prospect of making a career in the entertainment industry.
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In 2002, at the age of 11, AJ made her acting debut with the small role of Sheridan’s daughter in a single episode of the soap opera ‘Passions.’ She then appeared in the pilot episode of the series ‘Birds of Prey’ the same year. The series was canceled after 13 episodes.
The same year, she started appearing in the drama series ‘The Guardian’ and essayed the role of ‘Shannon Gressler’ in 15 episodes, until 2004.
In 2003, she appeared in nine episodes of the sitcom titled ‘Oliver Beene,’ playing ‘Bonnie.’ In 2004, she appeared in the drama series ‘General Hospital’ and ‘Six Feet Under.’
In 2006, AJ appeared in the first lead role of her career, with her sister, Aly, in the romantic teen comedy TV film titled ‘Cow Belles.’ By then, the sisters had released their debut album, which had become a success. The film, which was made on a budget of $5 million, was a critical and commercial hit.
The success of ‘Cow Belles’ further led to the sisters being cast in leading roles in the teen comedy TV film ‘Super Sweet 16: The Movie’ in 2007.
In 2009, AJ made her big-screen debut with the supporting role of ‘Clarissa’ in the supernatural drama film titled ‘The Lovely Bones.’ The film received average reviews at the box office but was a commercial success.
In the 2011 film ‘Secretariat,’ in which AJ played the supporting role of ‘Kate Tweedy,’ she used the name “Amanda Michalka.” The film was a decent critical and commercial success.
In 2013, AJ earned the biggest TV role of her career, when she was signed to play ‘Lainey Lewis’ in the sitcom ‘The Goldbergs.’ The sitcom was fairly successful and AJ’s role switched between being a recurring role and a regular role.
She then appeared in guest roles in series such as ‘Silicon Valley’ and ‘Motive.’ However, more recently, she has been seen playing main roles in series such as ‘She-Ra and The Princess of Power’ and ‘Schooled.’ Since 2015, she has also been lending her voice to the character of ‘Stevonnie’ in the animated series titled ‘Steven Universe.’
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She has also consistently appeared in supporting roles in films such as ‘Angels in Stardust,’ ‘Dirty Lies,’ and ‘Apple of My Eye.’
AJ Michalka and her older sister, Aly Michalka, play as a musical duo. They released their debut album, ‘Into the Rush,’ in 2005. Released under ‘Hollywood Records,’ the album was a huge hit and was certified “gold” by the ‘Recording Industry Association of America’ (RIAA). It sold more than a million copies worldwide.
However, their second album could not repeat the magical success of their debut effort. The album, titled ‘Acoustic Hearts of Winter,’ was a failure and managed to sell only 110,000 copies in the US.
Their third album, ‘Insomniatic,’ was released in July 2007 and was a decent success, selling 700,000 copies in the US alone. The album also peaked at the 15th spot on the ‘Billboard 200’ chart.
In 2017, the duo released an extended play (EP) titled ‘Ten Years,’ which had four singles. The EP was released independently and peaked at the 25th position on the ‘Billboard Independent Albums’ chart.
Apart from contributing to the musical projects of the duo, AJ has also worked as a solo artist. She has mostly recorded singles for TV series and films, such as ‘Grace Unplugged,’ ‘Secretariat,’ and ‘The Goldbergs.’
Awards & Achievements
In 2006, she was nominated for the ‘American Music Award’ for the ‘Contemporary Inspirational Artist of the Year.’
In 2014, she won the ‘Movieguide Award’ for the ‘Most Inspiring Performance in Movies’ for ‘Grace Unplugged.’
She also won the ‘Special Jury Award-Acting in a Lounge Feature Film’ (along with her sister, Aly) at the 2015 ‘Napa Film Festival.’
In 2017, she won the ‘Behind the Voice Actor Award’ for the ‘Best Female Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role’ for ‘Steven Universe.’
Family & Personal Life
AJ Michalka has had a long-term relationship with actor/singer Keenan Tracey. In addition, she has dated Joshua Pence and Harry Mead in the past.
AJ and her sister are dog lovers and own three dogs together.
She is good friends with former ‘Disney’ stars Ashley Tisdale and Zelda Williams.
AJ had suffered from allergies in the past. Aly once revealed that AJ had had a bad allergy attack back in December 2011.
Since she became a teenage star, she has appeared in ads for merchandise, magazines, and store posters for brands such as ‘Disney,’ ‘Playmates Toys,’ ‘American Girl,’ and ‘Mattel.’