Aly Michalka on Hallmark's Sand Dollar Cove, Making Music with her Sister, AJ

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Aly Michalka is starring with Chad Michael Murray in Sand Dollar Cove, a Hallmark movie. She plays a real estate developer interested in finding land within a small beachfront community for a vacation resort.

Michalka has starred in various movies and TV series, including Hellcats and iZombie, and she's part of a successful recording duo with her sister, AJ -- Aly & AJ.

We had a chance to catch up with her to discuss the movie and chat about Aly & AJ's latest album, A Touch of the Beat.

Elli Surveys Sand Dollar Cove

Can you tell me a little bit about Elli, your character in Sand Dollar Cove?

Yeah. Elli is basically a fish out of water in this story, a girl that is looking to develop this small-town community and build a large hotel in this area that has this kind of old pier that's very important and historical to the town.

She kind of finds herself at odds with Brody, who is played by Chad Michael Murray. He's the one that actually owns the land that she wants to develop.

They end up falling for each other in the meantime, but she's constantly trying to figure out how they can use this land for her new development project, and it's just not coming through.

So yeah, you see the two of them at odds and then her falling for this community and the people that are a part of it. By the end of the movie, you see that she's really fallen not only for Brody, but just this special group of people.

Elli Takes a Call in Sand Dollar Cove

And in what ways could you identify with Elli?

I think the thing that I identify most with was her work ethic. She's a really hard worker; she's a very organized, Type A personality, which is very much up my alley. I saw a lot of similarities between the two of us.

She really is someone that puts work first in her life, which I like to say I do that when it's necessary, but I also feel like putting friends and family and my personal love life before that is very important, I think, for not only your mental health but just your personal happiness.

You can really see that she hasn't been the best at managing that in her personal life. When she meets Brody, he introduces her to this whole new world that she hasn't really been able even to enjoy.

And I think that she sees this whole new side of her kind of blossom with this community in Sand Dollar Cove.

May I Have This Dance in Sand Dollar Cove

What was it like working with that cast? This is a really good cast with four incredibly strong actors.

We had a great time. We all got along really well, which doesn't always happen, where you kind of walk away with these friendships. Not every single time does that end up occurring, so when it does, you're always just excited and happy that you got paired up with a great group of people.

Chad and I became friends out of it, and I became really close with little LJ who plays Milly in the movie. She's such a sweetheart.

She lives in Florida, so I told her whenever I'm in Florida touring with my sister, I was like, "I'm going to always try to see you. You have to come to a show." So we kept in touch via Instagram.

But it's really great. We got to work with a fantastic trainer and his dog who was in the film, and it was a really great experience.

The little town of Mystic where we shot the movie is a really sweet town itself and has great food and just a really lovely environment. I actually want to go back now and do a little vacation trip with my husband and just go up there for like a week and just hang out.

Watching a Concert in Sand Dollar Cove

That would be nice.


And you mentioned the food, which plays a pretty big role in this particular movie. There's one point where Brody places a hefty bet on Elli liking the Sand Cove lobster rolls. What's an unexpected meal that you had that blew you away?

Oh. You know, I had an amazing lobster roll, funny enough, at this place called Ford's Lobsters. It's like a little lobster shack that actually doubled as Brody's little bait and tackle shop. It's actually a restaurant. The first day that I got in, I went and had a lobster roll with my husband.

He was helping set me up there for the first few days. And we just had a great little cocktail and a lobster roll, and it was just divine. And I was like, "Wow, this is so great." So it was a nice introduction to the area.

Elli Alone by the Ferris Wheel

And you also have a new album out. What can you tell me about the inspiration for your new album?

Honestly, the inspiration mainly was around just being from California. You know, my sister and I grew up here.

We're valley kids, and we really wanted to make a record that felt like that kind of California energy that so many people are attracted to and so many people are wanting to experience on vacation, just going down the PCH, driving down the coast, going up to Big Sur.

There are so many wonderful parts of California, and we wanted to capture that in a sound.

We decided to make the record over the pandemic and to really focus on capturing the musicians that played on it in an incredible studio called Sunset Sound, which has a lot of great history, especially with a lot of California-based bands.

Enjoying the Fair in Sand Dollar Cove

Yeah, we were able to record it there and track it there. We didn't really have a lot of overdubs on this record. It was very much like an old way of making a record that was a bit more old school than the ways that people record now.

It's so easy to be able to just record off your laptop and do everything off your computer, but we felt like it was important to bring in these incredible musicians to be able to all play in one room at one time and to capture that on the record.

Your videos are like little movies. How do you guys come up with the ideas for them?

Thanks. We try to shoot our videos... The majority of them we've shot, like 80% of them, have been shot on film, which is always really exciting because there's just this magic to film and the quality that it brings.

But really, for us, a lot of times, the ideas just kind of come out of nowhere. It's maybe something that just kind of pops up in our mind while recording the song.

Magic Under the Ferris Wheel

Or we'll start brainstorming, it's a collection of people giving their ideas about what they feel would be the best visual to pair with the song and the lyrics. But a lot of times, the ideas come either from my husband or from me, a mixture of the two of us.

But we've had a lot of fun making them, and they feel like, like you were saying, like little movies in their own way, which is really special.

Yeah, they do. And they look beautiful. Now I know why.

Thank you.

Brody and Elli Arm in Arm

You have been creating music for almost 20 years now. What's it been like having such a successful partnership with your sister?

It's really amazing. We don't ever really take the time to just kind of sit down and think about it, but it's quite an experience to make music with your best friend and your sister.

The fact that we have been doing it for so long is a testament to our friendship and the fact that we're a really good balance to each other and that we're not bringing the exact same thing to the table.

I think that we have different strengths and different weaknesses. And I think that's what probably makes the partnership really work.

Elli Alone by the Water in Sand Dollar Cove

And you've also been in some really great TV shows. Would you ever consider another role in television? Are you actively looking for one or waiting for one to fall on your plate?

Yeah, I mean, I definitely would go back to TV. But, with music now having a life again and being a big priority for AJ, I think that it does narrow down the amount of time that I can spend on set and the number of months that I can either be gone on location.

So I'm looking for projects that shoot for three to five months just because the rest of the year would be spent touring. Or if it's not a year where we're touring, we would be then recording and making an album.

But yeah, definitely looking for a project. AJ and I are actually in the middle of developing a live-action dark comedy and an animated TV show right now. So we'll see if that ends up happening, but it's really fun to be able to develop with her.

Toasting to Sand Dollar Cove

I bet it is. If you could revisit any of the roles that you've had in the past, which one would you love to revisit?

If I could revisit any of them. I'd like to maybe revisit Easy A. It was a really fun character to play and a really great moment for so many of the actors and cast of that film. Yeah, I would probably say Easy A.

And finally, why don't you and Aly come up with a pitch for you guys to do a Hallmark movie?

I mean, yeah, you're right. Why not?

You could use music.

That's true, that's true. Very good idea. Maybe that'll be on our list next.


Sand Dollar Cove premieres on Hallmark on Saturday, June 26 at 9/8c.

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on X and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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