Alum of the Month – Michael Goorjian ’89 Seeks What Lies Beyond the Stars
Though Michael Goorjian ’89 bought the novel Demian, by Herman Hesse, that was assigned reading in Debra Kolsrud’s English class at O’Dowd, he never got around to reading it. He skimmed it well enough to muddle through a test, and then moved on.
Several years later, Goorjian read the book in earnest – and he was captivated. He immersed himself in other philosophical fiction works, including another of Hesse’s books, Steppenwolf, and W. Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge. Recently the Emmy-award winning actor, filmmaker and screenplay writer added a new artistic discipline to his resume – novelist. In 2016, Goorjian completed the first book of a trilogy he was commissioned to write for Hay House Publishing – What Lies Beyond the Stars, set in San Francisco’s technology industry and the rural coastal town of Mendocino. “There are a lot of facets to it,” says Goorjian. “In a way, the story is rooted in exploring the idea of human attention and how it’s become a currency. But the exploration of the idea is woven into a story that is based on Dante’s Divine Comedy and the relationship between Dante and Beatrice.”
He is currently finishing the second book, Beyond the Fractured Sky, which will be released in 2019, as well as directing an Armenian-based film.
At O’Dowd, Goorjian participated in Drama for four years, starring in productions such as Fiddler on the Roof and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and believes his O’Dowd experience was pivotal in his professional success. “I learned from (Drama Director) Dennis Kohles ’69, who was one of my first mentors, the high level of discipline that is required for this profession. And that has been the engine beneath what has made me successful,” Goorjian said.
Goorjian is probably best known for his role as Justin, Neve Campbell’s love interest on the Golden Globe winning series Party of Five, but his television, film and theater credits are lengthy – dating back to his first role as a dancer in the Disney film Newsies, which he landed while a student at UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television.
Slow art addresses more complicated thematic aspects of life and hopefully sticks around longer.
His favorite roles include Heroin Bob in the indie film SLC Punk and the autistic teenager David in David’s Mother – a portrayal that earned him an Emmy. As a director, Goorjian achieved widespread recognition for his first major independent film, Illusion, which he wrote, directed and starred in alongside Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas.
It was through promoting this project at film festivals that Goorjian met Gay Hendricks, a psychologist, writer and teacher in the field of personal growth and relationships, who asked him to produce and direct the documentary You Can Heal Your Life starring internationally renowned metaphysical author and teacher Louise Hay for Hay House Publishing. He subsequently worked on The Shift, starring best-selling author Wayne Dyer.
“I had a screenplay that I was working on and I asked the CEO of Hay House to read it so I could get his opinion,” Goorjian said. “He asked me if I was interesting in turning the screenplay into a novel and I said, ‘Sure!’ Moving from writing a screenplay to writing a novel definitely was a jump, but the screenplay was essentially a skeleton that I could build the novel upon.”
Goorjian says if there is one common thread in all of his artistic endeavors it is storytelling. “I spent years studying mythology, fairy tales and folklore,” he said. “With novel writing, however, I can dig into deeper philosophical questions. It’s slow art instead of fast art. Slow art addresses more complicated thematic aspects of life and hopefully sticks around longer.”
Looking ahead, Goorjian is interested in exploring writing non-fiction, specifically philosophy and social commentary, and doing occasional acting and directing projects.
Get more information about Goorjian and his work: http://www.michaelagoorjian.com/