SUU to Everywhere

Melanie Nelson ('98)

Melanie Nelson ('98) | SUU to the Big Screen


Originally published on October 21, 2019.

LaVerkin, Utah, native Melanie Nelson caught the acting bug as a child when she wrote her first musical, Easter of the Munchkins, and cast her friends in the neighborhood show. She has since made acting her life’s work and today is an actor, professor, artistic director, and company founder. 

Melanie’s many TV and film credits include Matchmaker Christmas, Being Charlie, Midway to Heaven, and White on Rice; she is in her eighth year as an adjunct professor at Westminster College; is the artistic director of the Classical Greek Theatre Festival, the longest running Greek theatre company in the U.S.; and is the founder and co-artistic director, along with fellow SUU alum Jared Larkin (’99), of Pinnacle Acting Company. And for Utahns who frequent a Megaplex Theater, you will see her in the pre-movie commercials. 

“What I love about acting is what I learn about people; why we make choices. I believe it has made me a more compassionate and accepting person,” she says of her profession. “It also gives me the freedom to use my imagination and create; to make choices, change my mind, and make other choices. So many life lessons have come to me from acting.” 

It was acting and the Utah Shakespeare Festival that drew Melanie to SUU. As a teen, she loved coming to the Festival and participating in the workshops, which made SUU a natural choice for her continued education. 

What she found here was a theatre department full of talented actors, fantastic USF staff who taught students the craft, and meaningful and varied educational opportunities. 

“I learned so many life lessons: how to be independent, how to use my time effectively, how to get along with others in a work environment, and how to create a strong work ethic and determined attitude,” she says.

Melanie and her partner Harris Smith, whom she met at a USF summer acting workshop, live in Salt Lake City.