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is a Los Angeles native whose distinctive writing and filmmaking voice she attributes to her Mexican and Midwest heritage, in addition to being on the spectrum.
Michelle's first 16MM film, Silence, won at the New York Dore Schary Festival. It was featured in two screenings at the Director's Guild Theater, in Los Angeles, at the Los Feliz Theater, the L.A. Film Forum, and at Laemmle’s Royal Theater. Silence was also featured at the Benefit for the Foundation for Art Resources at the Pacific Design Center.
As a directing Fellow of The American Film Institute, Michelle earned her Master of Science. The American Film Institute describes her as a "...gifted, original talent and ... true storyteller" and featured her in an AFI Lifetime Achievement red carpet event and broadcast on CBS.
Michelle was a Mary Pickford and Remy Martin Foundations' Grants recipient. She was interviewed by the American Film Magazine and the New York Times, who described her 16MM narrative short, Pinfeathers, as being the least like the typical L.A. product and having a “Salammbô-like decadence around the edges ...”. Scarecrow Video (described by Italian film director, Bernardo Bertolucci, as being the best video store in the world) called Pinfeathers "Disturbing and dreamlike" and added it to their permanent viewing archive. Pinfeathers went on to win at the Chicago International Film Festival. It was also picked up for distribution by Dark’s Art Parlour and offered for sale on their website and at horror/fantasy conventions around the United States. When the Tribeca's MacArthur Foundation granted 1-million dollars to the Reframe project, Tribeca asked AFI for a selection of short films to showcase and offer for sale.
Pinfeathers was almost twenty years old when AFI selected it to be one of thirteen films to represent their entire catalog of shorts that spanned decades.
Michelle is the author of When Rent is Due, a play that premiered at The New City Theater in Seattle, where she produced, directed, and designed its production.
She authored All the Leaving, a novel that has been translated into Spanish and sold in bookstores throughout Mexico City and at the Benito Juárez International Airport.
(All the Leaving is available at Amazon, Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, Homeboy Industries, in Los Angeles, and in a Kindle ebook edition).
In addition to holding an MS in directing from AFI, Michelle holds a Bachelor of Science in digital filmmaking from the Los Angeles Film School and is in the last year of finishing her Entertainment Business Bachelor's degree.
She is currently at work on a documentary series about mass incarceration.
As a Buddhist practitioner, Michelle believes that being a volunteer is the practice of employing one's compassion for a higher purpose. Ms. Espinosa spent three days a month in prisons for fifteen years facilitating the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) for inmates. AVP is a process by which inmates and community members learn communication, coping skills, and deeper self-awareness as alternatives to violence.
For three years, Michelle was a volunteer responder and on-call manager for the Los Angeles City Mayor's Crisis Response Team. CRT is called to the scene of fatalities or multi-casualty incidents by L.A. Fire and Police Departments–to assist witnesses and families–until the Coroner leaves.
While a practicing mediator and facilitator with the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office for twenty years, Michelle was invited to coach students at U.C.L.A. Law School and peer-to-peer mediators in L.A. middle schools.
Michelle was recommended by Los Angeles Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, for the President's Volunteer Service Award and Bronze medal, which was awarded to her by President Barack Obama.