link to main

main 2News 2Locations 2Funstuff 2Music 2ReviewsMonk WorldContact 2

December 4th 2008

Actress Melissa Strom guest stars in this season's holiday episode of Monk, "Mr. Monk and the Miracle", which debuted on Friday, November 28th. She has the small role of the young clerk who gives Monk a vital clue.

Melissa is a Texas native. She sings, dances, acts and even blogs. Her TV credits include Cold Case, The Bernie Mac Show, The O.C. and American Dreams. She was recently a performer in the national touring company of Jersey Boys.

Despite the busy holiday season Melissa answered all my questions. Here's what she had to say.


How did you first hear about the role?

My agent, Sheila Ellis, called me the same day as my first audition for the show! I had two hours to get ready, prepare and drive to my audition in Hollywood!

As a Monk fan how did you feel about getting a chance to audition?

I was excited because I had just watched a Monk episode on USA. It was karma! When I was doing the musical Jersey Boys to wind down after the show I would watch Monk a lot – it comes on at ALL hours of the night and even in-between the matinee and the night shows on our double days. Watching the show always puts me in good spirits and I was able to see episodes from all the seasons!

What was your audition like? Who was there?

My pre-read or first audition was with Corbin Bronson the casting associate for Monk on the Paramount lot. He was really nice. He asked a question about one of my credits on my resume and then we read the scene once. He gave me an adjustment (a redirection). I tried it again and he said, “Great come back today at 5pm for producers and the director.”

Miracle 4

When I came back for my callback there were a lot of people reading for all the roles in the episode. I was one of the last actors to go! When I walked in the room there were five people and one of them was Tony Shalhoub (I did a double take) – Ha! I totally didn’t expect to see him at my audition. He is a producer on the show as well as the star! Tony read with me, gave me a redirection. We did the scene twice and after I chatted with the casting directors, Anya Colloff and Amy McIntyre Britt, and the episode's director, Andrei Belgrader – out the door I went! While in the room they were taping the session with a small camera and my headshot and resume was on the table. I had a fun time in the room and it went well because the people were friendly and warm – an environment that I thrive in – very actor friendly!

Melissa 5

How did you find out you got the part? How did you feel and what was your reaction?

One or two days after my callback, my manager, Paul Bennett called and said Sheila Ellis my agent was booking me for Monk. He happened to be on the phone with my agent as the Monk production office called to make an offer!

What do you think made them chose you?

Anytime I book a role I don’t know why I get it or why I don’t! I prepare for my audition by doing all my “homework,” I listen to and make any changes they need to see in the audition, but above all I go into the room with two goals to have fun and to be true to myself and all the things that make! The rest is up to the stars, the acting gods, the other gods and to the producer and directors!

What was your concept of the character?

Mr. Monk is the title character and the star of the show so as a supporting actor I am there to “support” Monk with all his OCD tendencies and quirks. I played my character as true to any gal that would be working in a recycle center. It was also a short scene so I decided the simpler the better.

Miracle 1

What do you think you may have brought to the role that wasn’t in the script?


What was your first impression of the Monk cast members? Did you get to work with all of them?

I met and acted with two of the series regulars, Traylor Howard and Tony Shalhoub. First, I met Traylor. We were getting our makeup done at the same time She had her son in the trailer who was really cute. Then thirty minutes later, Tony walked in as hair was finishing my pony tail. He welcomed me and said hello. Coming in as a guest for a day in episodic television can be tricky because each set has a different vibe and every actor has a different preparation process before shooting. Two of the show’s stars welcomed me in the hair and makeup trailer in such a kind genuine way.... well, you can’t beat that kind of greeting in TV land. They set the day’s tone on set for me and that was very helpful.

Was the cast fun to work with or was everyone pretty serious on the set?

Melissa 6

It was 100 degrees when the shuttle van dropped us from base camp to the shooting location at 12:30pm. After camera rehearsal and blocking the temperature rose to 106 degrees so basically the goal for everyone was to do your job as efficiently as possible without fainting!

Where were your scenes filmed?

Outside deep in the valley at a retro looking strip mall parking lot.

How long did it take to complete your part of the filming?

I arrived on set at 11am (there was a late call time because the cast and crew had worked late into the night the day before). I signed out after 3pm. We shot three different angles using two different cameras – In front of the desk master, in front of the desk close and behind the desk POV (they removed the entire back wall that was behind me – I didn’t even realize that the wall was removable and that most of the recycle center was set dressing... the signs, the wall, props on the desk, bottles....

What was it like filming Christmas in summer conditions?

Sweaty, melty, sticky and itchy... the back of my jeans stuck to my skin when I changed in the trailer after filming... soaked. They also had huge tubs filled with gatorade, ice and wet cloths to cool everyone down – it was crazy...BUT it was all worth it! It was the hottest Christmas ever!!!

Could you describe your day on the set? What’s the first thing you did when you got there?

Melissa 1

I always get to set early because one has to allow for intense traffic delays in LA. I got there as some of the trailers (production, hair and make up and the actor dressing rooms) were being parked. I always bring a big bag with snacks, magazines, a book, a pair of jeans and makeup (in case) and my script (which had been sent to by e-mail a couple of days before shooting.) I checked in with the assistant director or PA and they showed me to my dressing room. Someone got me a big bowl of fruit while I was was getting my makeup done.

Was there a lot of waiting around?

No! My scene was first up on the shooting schedule so I was immediately taken to hair and makeup and wardrobe, then shuttled to location for camera rehearsal and shooting. It happened very fast, even the rehearsal. One of my lines was slightly changed from my audition and I reverted back to the original once – whoops – it was the heat...ahahahaha. In between takes I mainly stayed in my recycle booth. In between camera set ups I stayed under a tent – although I could have gotten back in the van for actors, but by then I just wanted to keep my system even by not getting in and out of cold and hot!

Miracle 2a

Mr. Monk wouldn’t touch the change I gave him with his bare hands so the first time he pulled out his hanky it was really cool. I had to drop his change into his white hanky- SO MONK! Tony knows his character so well and plays him to perfection in such a believable way that its fun to act with him and interesting to observe as an actor.

How would you compare this experience with working on other acting jobs?

I really enjoyed working on the Monk set. Everyone I came in contact with was really great from makeup and hair, to the shuttle driver to the director Andrei Belgrader – who happens to teach at my alma mater USC. We discovered that in between camera setups!

If you had to pick one really important thing you learned working on Monk, what would it be?

Despite 106 degree heat, the show must go on and professionalism and craft as displayed by the cast and crew of Monk makes the show GREAT to watch and to work on!

What led you to acting?

Dance led me to musical theatre which led me to plays which led me to commercials and TV shows! As a child my parents took me to theatre, the movies, museums and we traveled a lot as a family. My parents also paid for lessons in dance, piano and sports and encouraged my sisters and I to get involved in a lot of extra curricular activities. Looking back I watched very little television growing up – I loved being busy playing or reading.

What was your first professional role? What was that experience like?

Melissa 4

In network television my first role was on an NBC series called American Dreams. From audition to shooting that has been one of my best acting experiences. It was a sleep over scene that was shot on the shows sound stage. I was able to act, dance, sing and improv so all my training came to great use. It was a blast and a great achievement. My whole family tuned in for my small screen debut when it aired and we were all very excited. Mostly I was thankful for having been given the opportunity and for being cast by Laura Adler, the casting director and Jonathan Prince the shows producer when my resume only had theatre credits. In theatre, my first professional show was a touring musical called The Music Man. I had just graduated high school and was able to perform at Fair Park Music Hall – the very stage I had watched many professional musicals that came to Dallas. It was a dream come true to perform on that stage and a goal reached. The cast was amazing and friendly. I was in heaven touring and performing eight shows a week!

Who are your role models?

Miracle 5

My mom, sisters Niki and Regan, Katharine Hepburn (did you know she got fired from big acting gigs and continued acting!...that fact puts things in perspective for me) and Tina Turner (I think her personal journey as well as her talent and spirit are remarkable!)

What has been your best acting experience so far?

Each project adds layers (good and bad) to my life experience. I’ve met amazing and talented people, learned religions, cultures, dialects, artistic styles, traveled through time, played dress up and even died. For me – it is the best job in the world and I would not be complete without it.

Your worst?

The great thing about acting is at the end of the day or project it's just pretend. With that said there is a lot of rejection that an actor endures. This business is not for the thin skinned... but a good actor requires sensitivity- sometimes it’s hard to balance. I have a full life outside of acting- my hobbies, friends and family make me a more complete person and a better actor. I also found it difficult while on tour with Jersey Boys not be able to celebrate the holidays with my family. In theatre actors only get one day off for holidays and producers can block out days surrounding holidays. But you make do and find new ways to celebrate!

Melissa 7

You’ve done a lot of theater as well as television, which do you enjoy more and why?

Both! Both tell great stories and have impact and relevance! Theatre and television mediums have great characters to be played that reach audiences. As an actor I would like to continue in both mediums because they require discipline, skill and craft.

What’s your favorite musical?

Melissa 2
Melissa Strom in Jersey Boys

Jersey Boys (and not because I was in it!!) I like when a musical tells a story through song, dance and acting- all three combined. Also it is a must that the audience can hum at least three songs after the show! It’s also a plus if the audience laughs and cries- the dichotomy of drama and comedy has always interested me. It also makes a musical exciting to watch or be in!

Do you have any other upcoming projects?

I am working on a couple of short films for festivals. Auditions start back up in January – keep your fingers crossed for me!!

Which do you like better Los Angeles or San Francisco?

While I was performing in Jersey Boys in SF, I liked being able to walk everywhere and I loved the overcast weather. I like the opportunities in Los Angeles – lots of auditions. All my friends from college (USC) are in L.A. and my cozy home as well. Having moved from Plano, TX to LA to pursue acting I like Texas better then L.A. or SF because my family lives there and I miss the genuinely friendly Texan people!!

Melissa 3


Index 2back to topinterviews 2