The Sister Act That Plays Together: Aly & A.J.
By Stacy Jenel Smith
In a celebrity world currently full of famous sisters - Hilary
and Haylie, Beyonce
and Nicky, Britney
and Jamie Lynn - Alyson and Amanda Joy Michalka stand out as the duo who literally plays together.
There is no question that the blonde sister act known in the pop music realm as Aly and A.J. qualifies as rising stars.
Their Disney Channel movie, "Cow Belles" was unveiled this month (March 24), with the pair indulging in some very messy physical comedy as they play Hiltonesque rich sisters who find themselves having to work at a dairy farm. They've already written all the music for their second album. They're awaiting word on their own Disney Channel series, "Haversham Hall," which would have them playing girls at a boarding school. And they're laying plans for a weeks-long, cross country headlining concert tour this summer.
As A.J. notes, "Good things are happening all over."
Not bad, especially considering Aly - known to "Phil of the Future" series fans as Phil's best friend Keely Teslow -- is just 16 and A.J. is a mere 14. She'll turn 15 on April 10.
"We're like best friends. We work well together," says the singer-actress, who considers her sister like a two-years-older twin. "We get asked a lot about whether we're competitive, but we don't feel that way. We're totally there for the other person. When one does something, the other one's rooting them on."
Aly concurs. "We have a blast together. It's weird we get along so well, I guess. We do have our differences, but we have a special chemistry and a special energy with each other."
And they have their individual strengths. In Aly's estimation, "A.J. is really good at being, like, a leader. She's a go-getter and really positive. I'd say that's definitely one of her strengths. For me, I'd say it's my creative thinking. I think a little differently, from an artist's standpoint. I'm the one always doing arts and crafts, writing stories, decorating my room in creative ways. Both of us bring in something different."
Born in Torrance, California, the sisters spent their early years growing up in Seattle, Washington. "We were there for about our first seven years because of our dad's business," A.J. explains. "He's a commercial contractor. He's owned his own business for more than 20 years. Our parents are very busy with my dad's job."
By the time the business brought them back to Southern Calfornia, the two girls were already well along the way on their performing path. They'd sung at church, learned to play piano and guitar, started writing songs they'd performed for family and friends, landed modeling and acting gigs.
Aly wrapped "Phil of the Future" last summer, but the popular series is still airing. She also counts the Disney Channel Original Movie "Now You See It," in which she starred, among her credits. A.J., meanwhile, has racked up credits in such shows as "Six Feet Under," "Birds of Prey" and "The Guardian."
They've scored several teeny pop hits already, as any Radio Disney listener will tell you, including their cover of the Lovin' Spoonful's "Do You Believe in Magic" and the title song from their "Into the Rush" album.
So where do things like school and friends fit in?
"We do make sure our education is a priority," says A.J. "Aly officially graduates next month. I'll graduate at 16, too. We're home schooled. We bring our books on the planes, on tour. We have tutors."
She also says, "We definitely make sure we have time off to be with friends, relax, go to spas and rejuvenate."
Both want to keep doing what they're doing - acting and music - with more and more variety in coming years. As Aly notes, "I don't ever want to put myself in a box as an actress. I definitely want to be a chameleon and do different roles. I know right now I'm obviously in more comedic stuff, stuff that's light hearted and fun. But eventually I want to do edgier roles, romantic comedies - a wide range of things. Neither of us ever wants to limit ourselves."
The future does indeed look limitless for Aly and A.J.