Melissa never knew her mother Jackie's famous godmother (the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis), but she learned all about the world of celebrity politics after playing Bristol Palin in the HBO telefilm Game Change. The HBO project starred Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson and Ed Harris.Melissa, who is of French, British and Italian descent, was born in New York City and raised in Paris, France, far away from Wasilla, Alaska, where the abstinence activist she portrayed was reared. Melissa's parents and their families were instrumental in the world of early aviation and they wanted their daughter to (figuratively) embrace the open skies, too.Having a near-photographic memory, Melissa excelled in academics (graduated with top honors), but she was drawn to the world of art, as well. She studied ballet and jazz and connected especially to poetry at an early age after being assigned to read Victor Hugo's Tomorrow, at Dawn, which deals with the poet's feelings about the untimely death of his daughter. Others began to recognize Melissa's early wisdom and maturity. At age ten, she was accepted into the exclusive Bilingual Acting Workshop for professional actors in Paris. When she was 13, Melissa spent a year at a boarding school in Boston in order to improve her English. Melissa combined her love of the arts and her sense of pragmatism by studying the challenging language of Mandarin Chinese while she was still in high school. Melissa is fluent in three languages; English, French and Spanish.Raised with a younger brother and surrounded by four male cousins, Melissa learned to hold her own athletically. She still enjoys tennis, skiing and the occasional skydive. Melissa postponed her business studies at the University of Pennsylvania to explore artistic endeavors in Los Angeles. She was about to return to the university when a manager, who discovered her in an acting class, urged her to remain in Hollywood a bit longer. The actress soon earned her Screen Actors Guild card after being cast as a young (and pregnant) Danielle Rousseau on the hit ABC series Lost.Other roles on Law & Order: SVU, Cold Case and NCIS quickly followed. Next, Melissa played opposite Claire Danes in HBO's award-winning Temple Grandin, portraying Alice, Temple's blind college roommate. "Alice's blindness provided a bridge between the two characters," Melissa says. "Temple [who has highly functioning autism] communicates without looking Alice in the eye, a huge relief and comfort that Temple is not permitted to have with others." Two of Melissa's favorite actresses are Cate Blanchett and Mia Wasikowska.As she continues to take on a diversity of roles as one of Hollywood's rising young talents, Melissa is determined to continue her education, knowing it will enrich her work as an actress. She's currently enrolled in the University of Southern California's Thematic Option Honors Program, majoring in Political Science and English Literature.
|Strange Empire||Dr. Rebecca Blithely 13 episodes, 2014-2015||2014-10-06|
|CSI: Crime Scene Investigation||Unknown||2000-10-06|
|Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Unknown||1999-09-20|