Born on May 27, 1978, in Carson City, Nevada,
grown up in Santa Cruz, California
Her name might may you think she's an European model, but
she's Californian, even if she spent time modelling in Europe.
You probably have not heard about Michonne unless you are
one hardcore Star Wars fan (she appeared as Aurra Sing for
about three seconds during the pod-race scene), but with here
appearance in Episode I, she already has a lot of fans, and
if the rumours are right and she will play a larger role in
Episode II, she might be a superstar soon.
While she played a fierce bounty-hunter and Jedi-murderer
in Episode I, Michonne is a really California girl who loves
sports, listen to music, writing poetry and keeping a journal
since 10 years.
As a teenager, she played volleyball for seven yeras, was
a member of student government and lots of clubs.
Michonne has three sisters and one brother, and she is a
very family-orientated girl. Of course, her sisters and her
11-year-old brother Travis are her biggest fans.
After graduation from Golden Sierra High School in Auburn, California,
friends urged the 5-foot 9-inch stunner to try modelling. She
tried, and a fashion workshop in Santa Cruz led to Bourriague
signing with Look Models in San Francisco in 1998.The agency
sent her photos to Episode I casting office, and she was invited
for an audition.
"My agent called and asked me if i knew who George
Lucas was," Bourriague recalls, with a laugh. "I
was like, 'I think I do, didn't he create Star Wars?' Mr Lucas
wanted to see me for a small part. I was in the grocery store
freaking out, I was so excited. But I had no acting experience,
maybe some natural ability. I'd never taken any acting classes
besides high school drama. But they told me it wasn't a speaking
role - they needed someone with 'model body' for it.
Michonne approached her audition as Aurra Sing, her character,
would - with strong and straightforward precision.
"I went to the casting and there were four other
girls there," she said. "My first priority was to
go right up to Mr. Lucas and say, 'I'm so honoured to meet
you - I think your work is just so awesome', and just straight-up
shake his hand. And that's exactly what I did."
Of course, she had also to try on the Aurra Sing costume,
but Michonne said "I think I maybe won him over with
my personality, because I was just so excited to be there.
I just wanted to make the most of that moment with him. Then
I joked around a little bit. I had a good time meeting him
- I was just so honoured. I never thought I'd get the part.
I never expected anything out of it. Next, I went back to
my agency and they told me they liked me, and that I got it.
We were all so excited. But never in a million
years did I ever expect what became of it."
When filming approached, Michonne was very nervous, but for
support she relied on her grandfather, who is her idol.
"He's the most amazing man - he has the biggest heart
and has taught me so much in my life. That man will do anything
to help you in any way. He's 87 and still climbing roofs,
six or seven days a week, working construction. He's amazing."
"The day of filming, I thought of whom I wanted to
take, and instead of my boyfriend, I thought Grandpa was the
one to take. I left him the next day at the hotel when I went
to the filming, because I wanted to be as professional as
possible. I didn't want to bring all my friends and family
to be in the way. But what's funny is when I got to ILM, I
was asked if I brought anybody! I was told everyone brings
along someone. So they said they'd go pick him up, and I think
they sent a limo to get Grandpa! So he met Mr. Lucas and watched
the filming. He was in awe of it all."
George Lucas was involved with Aurra Sing's visualization
every step of the way.
"George Lucas is so amazing," Michonne said.
"He knows exactly what he is doing. The day of filming
he told me, 'I'm going to make a star out of you in three
seconds.' I looked at him like, 'You're crazy, you know. What
are you talking about?!' When he said that, of course, what
a dream to be able to make me a star in three seconds! Really,
I didn't comprehend what he was talking about. I didn't."
"He was there the whole time. Actually, I had heard
from people that he works with that he didn't go to all the
little extra scenes in the movie, that they thought it was
cool that he was there. He talked to me between filming; he's
a very cool guy. He mainly was trying to tell me about Aurra
Sing's personality, what she was about so that I could be
in character, even though I was just watching the race go
by. I wanted to look as fierce and powerful as possible. Right
away I felt connected with that character because I had so
much fun playing Aurra Sing." " They were calling
me Babe-a Fett on the set - I didn't even know my character's
name - it was all a big secret. They gave me a little info
on her personality for the shots so that I could look fierce
and very powerful while standing out on the ledge. I wanted
to be in character as much as I could to soak up the moment.
They said she's a bounty hunter, ruthless, she kills people.
I later learned from the comics that she has six Jedi lightsabers.""Mr.
Lucas was walking back with me from the photo shoot after
the actual filming. He accidently slipped me her name. So
I said 'Oh, so her name's Aurra Sing?' and he replied 'Yeah,
but don't tell anyone, don't say anything.' So that was a
big secret I kept and didn't tell anyone for a real long time."While
the filming of her scene in November 1998 took four hours,
Bourriague spent more than six hours in the makup chair -
although she didn't have to shave off her long blonde hair.
"It was a plastic cap. They pretty much glued my hair
down. Then they put that cap over my hair, pulled my ponytail
through a little hole on the the tippy-top, and added that
huge extension ponytail. It was a redhead extension - my hair's
blonde. They used acetone to melt the plastic cap into my
skin to make it look as real as possible."Her costume,
no less complicated, also became a big hit.
"I had on really tight bodysuit and original Star
Wars boots, Jedi boots. Then they made my whole costume look
dirty. I had that huge gun on my back. Two guns were on my
hips. Then I was ready to go. I had my antennae on my head,
and some kind of bombs or bullets on the back of my vest."
Bourriague said that being Aurra Sing for the "fashion
shoot" was something she'll never forget. "I
had a blast doing that. I had so much fun. I'm sure you've
seen the pictures of me on the Star Wars website, how i got
to stand with my arms criss-crossed with the guns. I got to
act real tough."
But after her day of fun at ILM, Michonne had to wait several
months before the movie was released and she could reveal
her exciting secret.
"The day the movie came out - oh my gosh! I wanted
to get all my friends and family together in one big section
of the cinema. I was so excited when the scene finally came.
But I didn't know how much I was going to be onscreeen. I
didn't know how much they cut out, or how long it would be.
I knew it wasn't going to be that long, but I didn't know
how quick it was going to be."
"When I saw the movie for the first time, I just
wanted to tell everybody in the cinema, 'That's me up on the
screen!' But I didn't. It was so exciting to see myself on
the big screen - it was like a dream!"
After Phantom Menace, Michonne went to Europe for five month
and pursued her modelling career. She got assignments on modeling
hairstyles, lingerie, swimwear and designer clothes, lived
in Milan and Barcelona, and appeared in magazines all over
Europe."Modelling was very hard there, when I came
home, I decided I wanted to take a break. When you're judged
on your looks so much, it can get to you. I wanted to not
do it for a while."Michonne went to Las Vegas with
some friends, and took a regular job as a waitress."Now
that I've had that break, I'm ready to go back. I'm definitly
going strong into acting - I want to get in anyway I can.
I want to move to Los Angeles. I'm going to take classes,
and I'm thinking of taking kickboxing and karate classes just
so if I was cast, and Aurra Sing had to do some mean fighting
scenes, I'd be ready for it!"
She's already found some fans while waiting tables. "People
quite often will ask me if I've modelled. We'll make conversation,
and sometimes if I mention Star Wars, they just don't believe
me. They all say 'No way!' Some people will go and watch the
video and then come back for an autograph. That's so much
fun. I love it when people don't believe me, like I was in
K-Mart looking the Episode I toys, and my friends went, 'Hey,
she was in Star Wars! She's Aurra Sing.', and then I got all
embarrassed. Because in everyday life I'm in a T-shirt and
jeans - I don't look like a model and I don't look like Aurra
Sing, so they don't believe me, and it cracks me up."
Bourriague has been knocked out by the fan reaction to her
character. The biggest surprise came the day she received
a copy of the Star Wars US magazine, with her face on the
"Oh my gosh, that was such a big shock! I was so
amazed when I saw myself on the cover of the magazine. I was
so excited. I was hesitant at first about putting it in my
book with my other modelling photos. Because I was thinking,
what if someone is flipping through my book of nice modeling
photos and there is Aurra Sing, and they say 'Whoa, Who is
that?!' My boyfriend suggested I include it, so I did. And
in Europe the people were all amazed."
Amazed, no doubt, because few would have expected such a
brutal, bounty-hunting character to come from such an upbeat,
all-American girl. "Now that I have a better understanding
of the character, and all that has come out about Aurra Sing,
I feel so connected to her. Being that ruthless - oh, it was
so much fun to be as fierce as possible!"
Interview: Kevin Fitzpatrick