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Actress Spotlight: Melissa Benoist

Melissa Marie Benoist was born October 4, 1988. She is an American actress, singer and dancer who has performed on stage and in television and film. She is known for her portrayal of the DC Comics based superhero drama series “Supergirl” on the CBS/CW network. Benoist rose to fame for her portrayal of Marley Rose on the Fox musical drama TV “Glee”. She appeared in films such as “Whiplash” (2014), “Danny Collins” (2015), “The Longest Ride” (2015), “Patriots Day” (2016), Lowriders (2016), and “Sun Dogs” (2017) and portrayed David Koresh’s wife Rachel Jones in the miniseries “Waco” (2018). She made her Broadway debut in 2018 as Carole King in “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”.

Melissa Benoist was born in Littleton, Colorado, and is the daughter of Julie and Jim Benoist, and has two sisters: Jessica, a novelist and Kristina, an ecological scientist. She started dance classes at the age of three and when she was four years old her aunt put her in a church play she was directing. As a teen, Benoist performed anonymously at Disneyland for three summers with the Academy of Theatre Arts, a musical theatre school located in Littleton, Colorado run by Paul Dwyer and Alann Worley. She performed locally in productions including Cinderella and Bye Bye Birdie at Town Hall Arts Center, and Evita at the Country Dinner Playhouse. In 2006, The Denver Post named Benoist one of Colorado’s five “Can’t Miss Kids”. She graduated from Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado, in 2007, and from Marymount Manhattan College in New York City in 2011 with a Bachelor of arts in theatre arts.

Benoist’s first film was in “Tennessee” in 2008 along with singer Mariah Carey. Afterwards, she made guest apparences on shows like Law & Order: Criminal Intent , Blue Bloods and The Good Wife , while attending college. It was in May of 2012, when she auditioned for the smash hit TV series Glee in New York, that Benoist truly shined. Singing a different song for each of her five auditions including: “Fidelity” by Regina Spektor, “King of Anything” by Sara Bareilles, a Colbie Caillat song, and several musical theater pieces. After successfully auditioning for the shows series creator Ryan Murphy, Benoist was cast as Marley Rose on the fourth and fifth seasons of Glee. In 2013 she was selected as an ambassador for Coca-Cola’s new product, P10 300 ml Coke Mismo. In June 2013, they were flown to Manila, Philippines, to endorse the product by visiting various malls and meeting with fans. She left the “Glee” in early 2014.

Melissa Benoist as Marley on Glee

In the summer of 2013, Benoist and Blake Jenner held a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the production of their movie Billy Boy. The project reached its $100,000 goal. Benoist played Nicole, the love interest of Miles Teller’s Andrew Neiman, in the 2014 independent drama film Whiplash, which won top prizes at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. In June 2014, she joined Nicholas Sparks’ film adaption The Longest Ride as Marcia.

Benoist continued to shine starring alongside Al Pacino in “Danny Collins”, as well as taking the film world by storm in “Lowriders” and “Oxford”. Her shot at stardom came when she was cast as Supergirl, with Benoist in the lead role of Kara Zor-El. She became the first woman to lead a prime time superhero TV series since Wonder Woman went off the air in 1979. The premiere was watched by 12.96 million viewers and received a full season order by CBS on November 30, 2015. Benoist generally received positive reviews for her portrayal of Kara Zor-El.

Facts On Melissa Benoist You May Not Know:

  • During her first semester in college, Benoist was learning to ride a bike, a cab backed into her and left a visible scar above her eyebrows. She also has a tattoo of a bicycle on her left foot.
  • In 2015, Benoist suffered an injury that tore her iris when she hit her eye on a potted plant after falling down stairs.
  • In 2015, it was announced that she and her Glee co-star Blake Jenner were married. Benoist commented that they had been married “longer than anybody knows,” with some sources claiming that the couple actually wed the same year of their engagement in 2013. In late December 2016, she filed for divorce citing “irreconcilable differences”. The divorce was finalized in December 2017.
  • In October 2017, Benoist helped with her Supergirl co-star and boyfriend Chris Wood’s launch of his website “I Don’t Mind” that works to put a stop to the stigma around mental illnesses, admitting that she has struggled with depression and anxiety attacks since she was 13 years old. She said that Wood’s words enabled her to admit to others her own issues with depression. On February 10, 2019, the two announced their engagement

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Written by Neill Frazer

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