Originally from a small village on the island of Cape Breton in Atlantic Canada, seasoned sought-after stunt woman Melissa Kelly has come a long way. Kelly has an extensive resume and been a part of many acclaimed productions, spending every day living her dream.
“Adulting is overrated, and I get to be a big kid at work every day,” she said. “It’s inspiring to show younger girls that this is a career option for them to look into if this is something they are passionate about. I love creating with a team and seeing what the results are. It is very satisfying when you feel you have done the part justice and added to the storyline.”
Kelly did not always dream of doing stunt work. Her first love was dance, and when she was 18 she made her way onto a dance television show. This experience opened her eyes to the world of the entertainment industry, and slowly her passion of expressing herself physically and telling a story through dance transformed into a love of stunts.
“Stunts were one way I could satisfy this passion of creativity while being physically active. It was the way you could convey a message and make the viewers feel something that sparked something inside of me,” she said. “I get to do all the fun stuff while having the responsibility of keeping everyone safe. I love that every day is different, and you can never really get too comfortable in what you do. It keeps you on your toes and being humble is key for your safety and the safety of others. It also takes a lot of body, mind, and soul awareness. Being able to know your limits, to say no if you can’t do something 100% and really understand how your body works and what it needs at all times to perform at its best.”
Millions around the world have seen Kelly’s work on television shows like American Gods, Y: The Last Man, Private Eyes, and so many more, but it is working on the multi-award winning series The Handmaid’s Tale that Kelly deems as the highlight of her career. Kelly just finished working on the fourth season of the 15 Emmy award winning show, playing alongside Elizabeth Moss and Ann Dowd, where she played a fugitive Handmaid in the first 3 episodes.
“Who wouldn’t want to create Margret Atwood’s vision and help tell the important story of women’s oppression. The show is so well written and the cinematography and acting is phenomenal. It’s been a well-established show for a few years and it was a joy to walk into a production crew that had been working together that long. It makes a world of a difference on set,” said Kelly.
Kelly has worked on the show for several seasons, previously performing a stunt carrying Elizabeth Moss in the last scene of the third season. When the production team contacted her asking if she wanted to do a reoccurring acting role in this new season, she was thrilled.
“The show was fantastic. So many amazing people behind the scenes that truly care about the work they do,” she said.
Based on Margaret Atwood’s best-selling novel and set in a dystopian future in a land called Gilead where women are oppressed, The Handmaid’s Tale has been an industry leading show over the last four years. For Kelly, working on a team of mostly females was extremely empowering. Her character also plays a pivotal role in the story; as a fugitive Handmaid, Kelly’s character was helping June and the Handmaids escape Gilead. She opened the door to help all the Handmaids escape to freedom.
“I enjoyed working with a group of women whereas normally I work mostly with men. I loved working with a crew that had the chance to build a solid team of professionals and helping tell the story was a pleasure,” said Kelly.
The most rewarding aspect of the role for Kelly was helping to share such an important story.
“It is important because everything Margret Atwood writes about is currently happening or has happened in history and that makes the show terrifying. It’s no surprise it is such a success. It has been since day one, but it feels good to say I was a part of creating the latest storyline,” Kelly concluded.
The Handmaid’s Tale is available to stream on Hulu.