Actress Melanie Brook Of Under Wraps: "Your value as a human does not equal your value as an actor"

Yitzi Weiner @ Authority Magazine
Authority Magazine
Number one. Don’t compare.
Number two. Get a hobby. Try to take an interest in other things outside of your career.
Number three. Get a good therapist. We already touched on that, but seriously do it.
Number four. Your value as a human does not equal your value as an actor. Try to separate your life stuff from career stuff.
Number five. Say yes and take opportunities as they arise. (especially at the beginning of your career).
One bonus one. Study abroad if you have the opportunity. Travel. Take a vacation. (I need to take my own advice).

I had the pleasure to talk to Melanie Brook. Melanie is a LA transplant that can most recently be seen in the hit Disney reboot and sequel, “Under Wraps” and “Under Wraps 2.” Her television credits include “Dispatches from Elsewhere,” “Mrs. Fletcher,” “The Knick,” “Modern Love” and several Comedy Central shorts. Born and raised in NY, Melanie became a staple in the off-Broadway and cabaret scene having written, produced, and performed several shows at Feinstein’s/54 Below and Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater. She will next appear in Project Pay Day on Apple TV and star in the upcoming film “Summertime Dropouts.”

IG: @mellyb14

Thank you so much for doing this with us Melanie! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us your “Origin Story”? Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in New York, more specifically on Long Island. My parents are both from New York, and I grew up in your average Long Island Jewish household.

For me, it’s very concise, and it’s perfect because I know exactly what that means. I have many cousins who live on Long Island. Can you share a story about what brought you to this specific career path as a successful actress?

I was a very introverted, timid kid. When I started doing school plays, I realized how much more comfortable I was embodying and playing other people than myself. I immediately loved it and felt like I had found a home. I was a singer first, which led me to musical theater. I went to school for musical theater and lived in New York and did musical theater and cabaret work for a while. Then I started doing tv and film, which is what brought me to Los Angeles.

Beautiful. So, you probably have a lot of fascinating experiences. Can you tell us the most exciting story that happened to you since you began your career?

The first thing that comes to mind is an embarrassing story. I had a massive audition in front of one of my favorite artists of all time. It was for a big Broadway musical, that involved pies, that I would have killed to be in at the time. I ended up making it to final callbacks and during that, I had the biggest vocal crack of my life. I must have hit at least 7 notes within the singular crack. It was so embarrassing. I think everyone has had at least one “cry in the bathroom at the casting office” type audition though. We’ve recovered.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our most outstanding teachers. Can you share a story about your funniest mistake when you first started? Then, can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

A mistake I made when I was younger was comparing myself to other people, my friends, and people I didn’t even know. I think it’s very easy to do that and fall into that trap. I’ve learned through the years that there is room for everyone. Stay in your lane, work hard, and things will eventually happen.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person you are grateful to who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

The first person that comes to mind is a mentor and friend of mine, her name is Marcia DeBonis. She’s a fantastic actor. She used to be a casting director, and she runs a self-tape studio called The Tape Room. Back in my early days, when I was just starting to audition for tv and film, I went to her studio to get help with a self-tape, and she was the first person (along with her wonderful business partner Amy Christopher) in the tv and film world to take an interest in me and tell me that I had something special. It gave me the confidence boost that I needed to really pursue TV and film.

On top of that, Marcia has introduced me to so many amazing people in the industry and has been an endless well of knowledge and advice. She’s also now a dear friend of mine. I’m very fortunate to have crossed paths with her.

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but are intimidated by the mental health challenges of constant rejection?

The number one piece of advice: get a good therapist. (laughs) but seriously.

Take your mental health seriously. I think many people can brush it aside and say, yeah, you know, being depressed or being super anxious is just a part of being an actor or a part of being in the business. That’s not true. Even when you’re not working, you still deserve to be happy.

Every industry iterates and seeks improvement. What changes would you like to see in the industry in the future?

There’s been an encouraging increase in female and POC-led work on camera. But I would still like to see more. We especially need way more women and people of color in higher positions behind the scenes as directors, writers, executive producers, etc.
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You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?

I just had “Under Wraps 2” come out on Disney+ this past week. So I’m very excited about that! I would love to continue working in TV and film. I love working in the kid’s arena. I think I can have a tremendous impact. I used to be a nanny and I saw firsthand how much solace kids took in their favorite Disney or Nickelodeon TV show. So the fact that I get to work in that world now is really special for me, and I’d love to continue doing it.

What lessons do you think our society today can take from the themes of Under Wraps?

The main theme of “Under Wraps” revolves around friendship and how influential and special friendship can be to the kids and the adults in the movie. A lot of media and people in our lives can shove romantic relationships down our throats. Like, “you need to find love, and you need to find your person.” Sure, that’s nice. But I also think it’s important to value friendships. They can be extraordinarily meaningful.

This is the signature question we ask in nearly all of our interviews. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started,” and why? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

  1. Number one. Don’t compare.
  2. Number two. Get a hobby. Try to take an interest in other things outside of your career.
  3. Number three. Get a good therapist. We already touched on that, but seriously do it.
  4. Number four. Your value as a human does not equal your value as an actor. Try to separate your life stuff from career stuff.
  5. Number five. Say yes and take opportunities as they arise. (especially at the beginning of your career).

One bonus one. Study abroad if you have the opportunity. Travel. Take a vacation. (I need to take my own advice).

Can you share with our readers any self-care routines, practices, or treatments that you do to help your body, mind, or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.

I like to journal. I think it’s a beneficial tool to ground you. It just makes me feel better.

Also being around people you love and can be 100% yourself and intentionally making time for them.

Additionally, making time to just be by yourself.

Wonderful. So this is our final question. So, Melanie, a lot of people look up to you. A lot of people admire you. You are a person of enormous influence. So if you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Not sure about the enormous influence (laughs) but here’s what I’ll say: It’s cheesy, but the first thing that comes to mind is: be kind! You really never know what someone else is going through… your kindness can make an impact.

We’re very blessed that prominent leaders in entertainment and business read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would love to have a power lunch, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

Oh my God, a power lunch. Who would I want to have a power lunch with? Ummm...

I just saw Cecily Strong’s one-woman show and it was phenomenal. I’ve been obsessing about her for the past few days. So I would love to have lunch with Cecily Strong and chat, girlie to girlie, about life, love, and Pete Davidson.

Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?

You can follow me on Instagram. My handle is @MELLYB14, my aim screen name from 2002. it’s still going strong. <laughs>.

Well, Melanie, it’s been a delight to meet you and hear your story. I’m honored that you made time for me. Thank you so much.

Oh my God, of course, that was very fun.

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Yitzi Weiner is a journalist, author, and the founder Authority Magazine. He is also the CEO of Authority Magazine's Thought Leader Incubator, which guides leaders to become prolific content creators. Yitzi is also the author of five books. In 2017, he created the popular, “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me” series that highlights the empowering lessons learned from the experiences of high-profile entrepreneurs and public figures. This series has inspired a mini-movement among writers, with scores of writers worldwide profiling inspiring people to share their positive, empowering, and actionable stories. A trained Rabbi, Yitzi is also a dynamic educator, teacher and orator. He currently lives in Maryland with his wife and children.

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