Melissa Benoist On Playing Broadway’s Carole King, ‘Supergirl’s’ Topical Shift And ‘Glee’ Castmate Demi Lovato: Q&A
DEADLINE – Melissa Benoist broke out on television, but her original show business ideal was being where she is right now: Broadway. Her summer stint playing the lead in the long-running Beautiful: The Carole King Musical ends Saturday. The role has been an organic fit for Benoist, who grew up hearing King’s music while nurturing the ambition to one day make it to the Great White Way. “I am essentially living out my childhood dream,” Benoist said.
Beyond checking off a big professional box, though, the show’s message of female empowerment continues to resonate for Benoist as she resumes shooting Supergirl. She has taken inspiration from the real-life character. King wrote dozens of hit songs for others to sing, but then overcame personal challenges such as divorce, single motherhood and making her way in the male-dominated music industry, soon creating her masterpiece, the 1971 album Tapestry.
Interest from Benoist’s fans helped drive last week’s box office for the show to $845,619.50, up from last week’s $736,538 and $150,000 ahead of the same week a year ago. On Friday, King herself watched the performance and then joined the curtain call with a reprise of “I Feel The Earth Move.”
Melissa was interviewed and photographed for COVETEUR. View the interview and photoshoot below.
COVETEUR – We spoke with the actress about her mini-series Waco, crossword puzzles, and connecting to dogs.
So, a superhero enters a bar. It sounds like beginning of a way-too-corny joke that’s only mildly funny at the end, but in this case, it’s how we met Supergirl’s Melissa Benoist. Just replace the word “bar” with Toro NYC. And make the punch something about the fact that as we waited for everyone else to arrive, the actress treated herself that day’s crossword puzzle, all while looking—literally!—powerful in a kickass, all-black, leather suit.
Still, it isn’t exactly fair to *only* reference Benoist’s role on the CW hit (even if she did arrive looking quite superhero-ish). She has plenty of other big credits under her belt as well, including Glee from back in the day and, most recently, the Paramount Network’s mini-series, Waco, which airs on Wednesday nights and tells the story of the ’90s siege involving a religious cult. We spoke with Melissa on why she was initially intrigued by the role, her open struggle with anxiety, and her real-life super power (which might actually top any we’ve seen on TV).
THE LATERALS – To say that Melissa Benoist has range is an understatement. The familiar face from Supergirl and Glee has vaulted onto a dramatic piece on Paramount Network. Benoist plays Rachel Koresh, the enigmatic wife of David Koresh, and the mini-series explores the trials and struggles of the Branch Davidians’ standoff with the Federal government. The storytelling captivates audiences with its raw look, yet approaches the couple’s relationship with a tenderness that is often misplaced. Melissa Benoist has an unrivaled gamut of strength, which cannot be tethered.
Melissa spoke to Interview Magazine with her Waco co-star Andrea Riseborough. Check out the photoshoot and interview below.
INTERVIEW MAGAZINE – Waco is more than just a city in central Texas. It—the word, the place, everything Waco represents—is also a milestone, a landmark of religious fervor and governmental blunder in the sordid side of the American imagination often overlooked. It is synonymous with David Koresh, the self-proclaimed prophet that lived on the city’s fringes, the religious cult he presided over, and the military siege that left over 75 of its brainwashed members dead.
Waco is also the name of a new TV miniseries on the Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV). The show stars Taylor Kitsch as David Koresh who spars with FBI agent Gary Noesner, played by Michael Shannon. In only six episodes, it attempts to tell the stories of those both in and outside of the compound, often seeking to humanize the players on either side of a conflict without obvious “good” and “bad” guys.
Melissa Benoist Wants to Use Her Platform as an Actress, on Supergirl and Waco, to Remind Women That They Are Strong
W MAGAZINE – In March, it will be exactly three years since Glee, the unexpected, yet completely world-dominating a cappella TV hit, aired its final episode. But for Melissa Benoist, it feels like it was a lifetime ago.
“I was a baby,” said the actress, who appeared on the show for the final two seasons. “It was my first foray into any on camera work and I knew nothing. I was so naive. It was like a massive, ten car pile-up crash course.”
Benoist said this while sitting in a New York photo studio—a location that may be somewhat triggering of musical flashbacks; “Sometimes I’ll hear the songs [we sang] in the grocery stores, like ‘New York State of Mind,’” and I’ll be like, ‘Wow, this is so weird,” she noted. Now, Benoist’s recent work is eons away from the family friendly show that catapulted her career. Case in point: her latest project, the new mini-series Waco, which debuted on the Paramount network just last night.
How ‘Supergirl’ Melissa Benoist channeled a Boston Marathon bomber’s widow
It’s a Monday evening, when Melissa Benoist has just finished shooting for the day as the star of “Supergirl” on the CW. She’s heading back to her place in the town of Langley, just outside Vancouver proper, where the show films nine months out of the year. Her husband of almost two years, actor Blake Jenner, 24, visits her there, says Benoist, but “it’s a long time to be away from home” — plus, “it’s freezing!” Then again, she can take it. She was raised with Colorado blood.
Benoist, 28, grew up in Denver from the age of 2. And despite the fact that she’s lived in Los Angeles for four years now, “I’m not an ocean person,” she explains. “I like being landlocked. I constantly daydream about a ranch in the mountains in Colorado or Montana…I think mountains are the most beautiful things in the world.”
It’s impossible to ignore the natural charisma of Melissa Benoist, whose dynamic performance as Marley Rose has made her the star to watch among the divas at Glee’s William McKinley High. Ironically, her first day on set was more like those she spent as a shy student in Denver. “It was a choir scene, and I don’t think I said a word,” she admits. “At school, when it came to being social, I had no idea how to do it.”
Fast-forward a year, and the 24-year-old has transformed into a confident leading lady, belting out showstopping performances of classics like “New York State of Mind” and “You’re All I Need to Get By.” Her charm is so infectious it won over the heart of costar Blake Jenner, the Danny to her Sandy, both on and off the screen.
We clicked on his first day, during a ‘Born to Hand Jive’ dance rehearsal,” Melissa gushes about her real-life romance with Jenner, who plays fellow New Directions member Ryder on the show. “I love talking about it. Blake is amazing!” Despite being all giggles at the mention of his name, she firmly asserts that this is more than just a crush. “The chemistry you see with Marley and Ryder is not acting.”
Glee creator Ryan Murphy envisioned Marley as a relatable girl next door who would face problems common to many teens. “My first week, he said Marley would struggle with an eating disorder,” she remembers. Though conquering such issues on screen is emotionally draining, she says it’s also rewarding. “I still get letters from girls telling me I’ve given them hope. It’s awesome.” She’s come a long way from her days spent watching Judy Garland films with her grandma, but she knows future success isn’t guaranteed. “It’s all extremely hard,” Melissa says of shooting up to seventeen hours at a time. “But if you work your butt off and never settle, nothing will stop you.”
Glee is a show that resonates among many TV viewers because of the way it celebrates individuality and tackles timely youth issues. All this plus awesome singing and dancing from its talented cast make for an entertaining 40 minutes every week.
This season’s batch of fresh faces were so well-received on the show that they found themselves on a plane to Manila as Coca-Cola’s latest brand ambassadors. Jacob Artist (Jake Puckerman), Melissa Benoist (Marley Rose), Dean Geyer (Brody Weston) and Becca Tobin (Kitty Wilde) were here recently to promote Coca-Cola’s global “Open Happiness” campaign, which took them around malls in Metro Manila to meet fans as well as to unveil crates containing the brand’s latest product, the 300 ml “Coke Mismo.”
Inquirer Super sat with the foursome and asked them about their real-life struggles to make it in Hollywood, staying positive amidst rejection, and how to keep it real in glitzy Los Angeles.
Public Appearances > 2013 > June 08: “Glee For Coke”
Read the interview here