Religion, Politics, and Acting: The life of Mike Beard

By Almeda Girod

Resident Writer

As a 10-year old boy in Kenova, Ohio (located where Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia abut), Mike Beard wrote an essay about what he wanted to do when he grew up. He decided he wanted to be “a Methodist bishop, a U.S. Senator, and an actor.” Beard has transformed much of his childhood dream into adult reality.

Mike heard a girl in Methodist Youth Fellowship speak of “going to American University in DC and becoming a diplomat,” and he thought, “this sounds like fun.” When Mike met a speaker at a youth conference, who was the Dean of the new School of International Service at American University, Mike found a way to make this happen. It was a group effort of his parents and extended family to gather the resources for the first year.

Mike had the opportunity of interning with Senator John F. Kennedy, who was then on the cusp of announcing his bid for the Presidency, and later for Walter Fauntroy, a member of Congress.

His first job out of college was with the Methodist Board of Church Society, and it was through this position that he became involved with the gun control bill that would regulate the manufacture and sale of handguns…beginning a life-long interest. This was sparked by the accidental gun death of a friend when in fifth grade. Mike founded and ran the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) for 40 years. Other causes were civil rights, anti-war efforts, and reducing the voting age to 18.

It was happenstance that Mike arranged for his two young children to have parts in a movie being made in DC. The children were less enamored, but Mike (who became a member of the Screen Actors Guild) went on to perform in “extra” roles in 35 Hollywood movies as well as in 30 opera and ballet programs at the Kennedy Center.

Mike and Melinda, who met as students at AU, had the opportunity for travel as Mike served as a spokesman for gun control, including numerous appearances on TV talk shows.

Since the couple moved from their Friendship Heights home in 2014, their son and his young family have occupied the house.

Mike now finds new direction in his life as he lives with Parkinson’s disease and the loss of Melinda. He attends Dumbarton Methodist Church in Georgetown and Riderwood Circle Fellowship and helps bring live opera and vocal music to Riderwood. He also attends classes through the SAGE program.

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