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Melissa Marie Benoist (/bəˈnɔɪst/; French: [bənwa]; born October 4, 1988)[2][3][4] is an American actress and singer. She has performed on stage and in television and film. She is known for her portrayal of the titular character in the CBS/CW DC Comics–based superhero drama series Supergirl (2015–present).

Melissa Benoist
Melissa Benoist (48477063086) (cropped).jpg
Benoist at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con
Born
Melissa Marie Benoist

(1988-10-04) October 4, 1988 (age 31)
Houston, Texas, United States[1]
ResidenceVancouver, British Columbia, Canada
EducationThe Academy of Theatre Arts
Arapahoe High School
Alma materMarymount Manhattan College (B.A.)
Occupation
  • Actress
  • singer
Years active2008–present
Home townLittleton, Colorado, United States
Spouse(s)

Benoist rose to prominence for her portrayal of Marley Rose on the Fox musical comedy-drama television series Glee (2012–2014). 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 she portrayed David Koresh's wife Rachel Jones in the miniseries Waco (2018).

On stage, Benoist made her Broadway debut in 2018 as Carole King in the jukebox musical Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.

Early life and educationEdit

Benoist was born in Houston, Texas, the daughter of Julie and Jim Benoist, a physician.[1][5] They divorced when she was young.[6] Her paternal great-grandfather was of French descent.[7] She has two biological sisters: Jessica, a novelist, and Kristina, an ecological scientist, and five half-siblings from her father's remarriage.[5][8][9][10] She was raised mostly by her mother in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado, after her parents' separation.[11]

She started dance classes at the age of three, focusing on jazz, ballet, and tap.[12][13] When she was four years old, her aunt put her in a church play she was directing;[1] after that, she began doing community children's theatre in her hometown.[14]

As a teenager, Benoist performed anonymously at Disneyland in various medleys of musical songs for three summers with the Academy of Theatre Arts, a musical theatre school she was attending, located in Littleton, Colorado, run by Paul Dwyer and Alann Worley.[15] She performed locally in a number of theatrical productions, including A Month in the Country, Cinderella, A Chorus Line, and Bye Bye Birdie at the Town Hall Arts Center, a professional theatre located in the Denver metro area. Instead of attending high school graduation parties, she performed the play Evita with other cast members at the former Country Dinner Playhouse.[15][16]

In 2006, The Denver Post named Benoist one of Colorado's five "Can't Miss Kids".[9] She graduated from Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado, in 2007,[17] and then she moved to New York City to pursue a career in musical theatre.[18] She initially attended Marymount Manhattan College for the BFA musical theatre program but in her sophomore year, she switched majors to straight theatre, due to her admiration for 19th-century Russian plays.[1] She graduated from Marymount Manhattan College with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts in 2011.[19][20] While attending Marymount Manhattan college, she played the titular characters Millie Dilmount in an urban off-off-Broadway production of Thoroughly Modern Millie and Rosalind in As You Like It at the Theresa Lang Theatre.[15][9][21]

CareerEdit

2008–2011: Early workEdit

Benoist's first film was in Tennessee in 2008 along with singer Mariah Carey.[22] Afterwards, she made guest appearances on shows like Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Blue Bloods and The Good Wife, while attending college. She played Kelly in the 2011 Goodspeed Musicals theatrical production of The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown by Brian Lowdermilk and Kait Kerrigan at the Norma Terris Theatre.[23]

2012–2014: Rise to prominence with Glee and film rolesEdit

 
Benoist in 2015 at the 6th Annual Thirst Project Gala

In May 2012, she auditioned for the musical comedy-drama series Glee in New York at the Roundabout Theatre Company, 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 theatre pieces. In July,[24] she had two screen tests in California for series creator/writer, Ryan Murphy, the casting directors, and executive producers. She portrayed Marley Rose on the fourth and fifth seasons of Glee. Her first appearance as Marley Rose was in the first episode of Season Four, titled The New Rachel. Because the creators had been looking for Marley for a long time, she started working the day she found out she got the job.[6] Benoist's first performance was a duet of "New York State of Mind" with Lea Michele, during the first episode of season 4. The cover of the song reached twenty-four on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart.[25] She and Glee co-star Darren Criss appeared with Josh Duhamel in the opening of the 2013 Kids' Choice Awards.[26] That same year, she was selected as an ambassador for Coca-Cola's new product, P10 300 mL Coke Mismo.[27][28] In June 2013, they were flown to Manila, Philippines, to endorse the product by visiting various malls and meeting with fans.[29][30] She left the series Glee in early 2014, along with several other actors.[31][32][33][34]

In the summer of 2013, Benoist and Blake Jenner held a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the production of their feature film Billy Boy. The project reached its $100,000 goal.[35]

Benoist played Nicole, the love interest of Miles Teller's Andrew Neiman, in the 2014 independent drama film Whiplash,[36] which won top prizes (Grand Jury and Audience awards) at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. In June 2014, she joined Nicholas Sparks' film adaption The Longest Ride as Marcia.[37]

She had a role in the 2015 film Danny Collins, starring Al Pacino. She played the part of Jamie, a desk clerk at a hotel frequented by one of Jamie's all-time favorite rock stars.[38] That same year, Benoist also played Becky Thatcher in Band of Robbers, the Nee Brothers's modern-day retelling of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In May 2015, it was announced that Benoist would be playing Lorelai in the film Low Riders, replacing Lily Collins and Nicola Peltz, who were in talks for the role previously.[39] In August of that year, she landed the leading role in the Screen Gems drama feature film Oxford, with Sam Heughan as her leading man.[40]

2015–present: Supergirl and Broadway debutEdit

In October 2015, the superhero adventure series Supergirl, with Benoist in the lead role of Kara Zor-El, premiered on CBS.[41][42][43] She became the first woman to lead a prime time superhero TV series since Wonder Woman went off the air in 1979.[44] The premiere was watched by 12.96 million viewers and received a full season order by CBS on November 30, 2015. She was reportedly the first actress looked at for the role.[41] Benoist generally received positive reviews for her portrayal of Kara Zor-El.[45] The series later moved to The CW before its second-season premiere.[46] She reprised her role in The CW's Arrowverse crossovers "Invasion!", "Crisis on Earth-X", "Elseworlds", and "Crisis on Infinite Earths" as well as The Flash episode "Duet". She reprises her role as Earth-X's Supergirl doppelgänger Overgirl in the CW Seed animated series Freedom Fighters: The Ray.

 
Benoist at 2017 San Diego Comic-Con

In May 2016, Benoist was cast as Katherine Russell, the widow of deceased Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, in Peter Berg's drama film Patriots Day.[47] In June, it was announced that she was set to start alongside Michael Angarano in the comedy-drama film Sun Dogs.[48] Also in that month, the Human Rights Campaign released a video in tribute to the victims of the 2016 Orlando gay nightclub shooting; in the video, Benoist and others told the stories of the people killed there.[49][50]

In April 2017, Benoist was cast as Rachel Koresh, the legal wife of Branch Davidian leader David Koresh in Paramount Network's miniseries Waco.[51] Benoist was featured in "The Super Duper Minecraft Musical!" which was made for Minecraft's Super Duper Graphics Pack in November.[52]

On May 7, 2018, it was announced that Benoist would be playing the titular character in the Broadway show Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, which marked her Broadway debut for a limited run from June 7 through August 4, 2018.[53]

Personal lifeEdit

During her first semester in college, when she was learning to ride a bike, a cab backed into her and left a visible scar above her eyebrows.[54] She also has a tattoo of a bicycle on her left foot.[55][56]

In 2015, Benoist suffered an injury that tore her iris when she hit her eye on a potted plant after falling down stairs. The incident caused one pupil to be permanently enlarged.[13][54]

Also 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.[57][58][59] In late December 2016, she filed for divorce citing "irreconcilable differences".[60] The divorce was finalized in December 2017.[61]

In October 2017, Benoist helped with 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.[62] Benoist and Wood announced their engagement on February 10, 2019,[63] and married in September 2019.[64]

FilmographyEdit

FilmEdit

Year Title Role Notes
2008 Tennessee Laurel
2014 Whiplash Nicole
2015 Band of Robbers Becky Thatcher
Danny Collins Jamie
The Longest Ride Marcia
2016 Lowriders Lorelai
Patriots Day Katherine Russell
2017 Billy Boy Jennifer
Sun Dogs Tally Petersen
2019 Jay and Silent Bob Reboot Herself / female chronic Post-production

TelevisionEdit

Year Title Role Notes
2010 Blue Bloods Renee Episode: "Privilege"
The Good Wife Molly Episode: "Nine Hours"
Law & Order: Criminal Intent Jessalyn Kerr Episode: "Delicate"
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Ava Episode: "Wet"
2011 Homeland Stacy Moore Episodes: "Grace", "Clean Skin"
2012–2014 Glee Marley Rose Recurring role (season 4); main role (season 5)
2015–present Supergirl Kara Danvers / Supergirl[b][c] Lead role
2016–2018 Arrow Kara Danvers / Supergirl[c] Recurring role
The Flash Kara Danvers / Supergirl[c] Recurring role
Legends of Tomorrow Kara Danvers / Supergirl[c] Episodes: "Invasion!", "Crisis on Earth-X"
2018 Waco Rachel Koresh Miniseries

WebEdit

Year Title Role Notes
2017–2018 Freedom Fighters: The Ray Kara Zor-El / Overgirl (voice) Earth-X version of Supergirl[65]

TheatreEdit

Year Title Role Venue Refs
2000 The Sound of Music Brigitta von Trapp Country Dinner Playhouse
2003 The Sound of Music Liesl von Trapp Littleton Town Hall Arts Center
2006 Bye Bye Birdie Kim McAfee Littleton Town Hall Arts Center [15]
A Chorus Line Bebe Benzenheimer Littleton Town Hall Arts Center [9]
A Month in the Country Vera Aleksandrovna Littleton Town Hall Arts Center
2007 Evita Perón's Mistress Country Dinner Playhouse [15]
Footloose Ariel Moore Littleton Town Hall Arts Center [66]
Rodger and Hammerstein's Cinderella Cinderella Littleton Town Hall Arts Center [66]
2009 As You Like It Rosalind Theresa Lang Theatre [21]
Thoroughly Modern Millie Millie Dilmount Marymount Manhattan College [15]
2011 The Unauthorized Biography of Samantha Brown Kelly Goodspeed Musicals [23]
2018 Beautiful: The Carole King Musical Carole King Stephen Sondheim Theatre [53]
Terms of Endearment Emma Greenway-Horton Geffen Playhouse [67]

Soundtrack performancesEdit

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2013 Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Breakout Star Glee Nominated [70]
2016 Saturn Awards Best Actress on a Television Series Supergirl Nominated [71]
Breakthrough Performance Award Supergirl Won [72]
2017 Saturn Awards Best Actress on a Television Series Supergirl Won [73]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Action TV Actress Supergirl Won [74]
Choice Liplock (with Chris Wood) Supergirl Nominated [74]
Choice TV Ship (with Chris Wood) Supergirl Nominated [74]
2018 Saturn Awards Best Actress on a Television Series Supergirl Nominated [75]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Action TV Actress Supergirl Won [76]
2019 Saturn Awards Best Actress on a Television Series Supergirl Pending [77]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Action TV Actress Supergirl Nominated [78]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Sources disagree as to the year Benoist and Jenner were married. See § Personal life.
  2. ^ Benoist also portrayed Bizarro in the episode "Bizarro".
  3. ^ a b c d Benoist also portrayed Overgirl in the crossover "Crisis on Earth-X".

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit