Interview with local girl and Hollywood actress/producer Melinda Chilton....

by Rockford Rocked on Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 3:22pm

Q1. I know you as the really smart, pretty, tall girl I went to high
school with but can you update the rest of the audience as to who you
are, your ties to the ROCKFORD area and of course what you are
currently workin on/promoting??

Well, first of all...thanks for remembering me as 'smart and pretty'.
I've always thought of myself as the ugly ducking story.  I grew up on
a farm outside of Durand, IL.  I graduated from Durand High School.  My
Mother's side of the family are all from Rockford, so Rockford was
always my second home.  I spent my summers at my Grandparents' house
near Ohio Parkway.  Growing up on a farm, I always thought the 'big
city' of Rockford was so cool.  My Grandma didn't drive.  I use to love
riding the Rockford buses with her.  My favorite bus rides were to Ben
Franklin to buy a new board game or to Geri's for a hamburger and
fries.  My family is Polish, so my Grandpa and Uncles were always
members of the White Eagles and the Polish Falcons.  To this day I
still go to Rockford's Polish Catholic Church, Saint Stanislaus, for
midnight mass on Christmas Eve. When I was a teenager, I spent all my
summers doing musical theater with the Starlight and Rockford College
summer theaters.  My 'musical theater' dream came true when Mike
Webb cast me as Bebe in 'A Chorusline'.  After high school I went to
Rockford College and lived in McGaw Hall.  That was when I got to
explore some of the Rockford night life.  Cubby O'Briens and Stash
O'Niels were always my favorites.

After college, I moved to Chicago and modeled for a few years.
While in Chicago, I landed my first speaking role in a film
and earned my SAG card.  I figured...well, I got my SAG card, when does
the next bus to Hollywood leave?  I arrived here in Los Angeles, CA
about 12 years ago.  I have been living the life of an actress since
the day I arrived. I have recently begun to try my hand at producing
and LOVE IT!  The journey has been one heck of a roller coaster ride
and I wouldn't change one second of it.

  Q2. You left high school and moved to Chicago and quickly scored a
modeling contract with Elite Models. At that time was that something
you had set your sights on or simply something that happened? I don't
think that happened for me or anyone else in the school play.

I suppose you could say the modeling thing just kinda happened.  I grew
up with the dream of being an actress.  Acting is all I really ever
wanted to do.  I also grew up with a bit of a speech impediment.  I
stuttered almost as bad as King George.  Talk about a cruel joke, huh?
I was given the desire to be an actress and a speech impediment all at
the same time.  As a kid I watched a lot of 'Hee Haw', so I learned
quickly from Mel Tillis that a person with a stutter could still sing.
That would explain my early love for musical theater.  However, to act
in front of the camera, you have to speak.  When I first got to
Chicago, I was still stuttering.  The only jobs I could get were
modeling gigs where I didn't have to speak.  I did  alot of catalog
work for Kohl's, Montgomery Wards, JC Penney, etc.  It paid the bills
and it helped to build my confidence.

Q3. Now that you're doing a lot of acting you still pretty much have to
stay in model shape and you recently posted pics of you working out
with Richard Simmons! I know you grew up seeing him on TV was it
surreal to be "Sweating to the Oldies" right next to him?

Yes, Richard Simmons is one of my childhood heroes.  Just last year I
found out that he has an exercise studio in Beverly Hills.  He teaches
there whenever he is in town.  His energy is AMAZING!!!  His motto is
"love yourself, watch your portions, and move your butt".  I work out
with him often.  He has become 'Uncle Richard' to me.  But, sometimes
in the middle of class I look over at him and I think, "OMG!!!!!  I am
working out with RICHARD SIMMONS!!!!!".  He has really helped me
maintain my weight.  More important then that, Richard has given me a
place where I can go and laugh, be myself, and get recharged when I am
feeling a bit frustrated with life.

Q4. Back to got your first great film break in the movie
"With Honors" and got to work with Joe Pesci and play Patrick Dempsy's
girlfriend! What was that like and did you enjoy working with my wife's
make-believe boyfriend Brandon Frasier?  (feel free to tell everyone what
a jerk he is and how long he had to spend in makeup to look halfway

LOL....I know you want me to say Brendan Fraser is a jerk, but he is so
NOT!  I was just actually telling someone that Brendan Fraser is
probably one of the nicest people I have ever worked with.  My role in
'With Honors' was kinda small.  I only worked one day and had one line.
At the end of the day, I was walking back to my car and I heard
someone yelling my name.  I turned around and it was Brendan.  He came
up to me and said, "You left without saying good-bye.  It was nice to
meet you.  I hope you have lots of luck with your career."  Then he
turned around and ran back to set.  I'll never forget that.  The star
of the film actually ran out to say good-bye to the random actress who
had one line.  Now....I know I keep saying I only had one line in
"With Honors'...but....the perk was that after I said that one line, I
got to kiss Patrick Dempsey.  That was one 'dreamy' kiss.  It also took about
six hours to film that scene, so I got to kiss him several times.
Tee-hee. ;)

Q5. Your IMDB bio credits an appearance on Oprah as moment you decided
to jump ship from Chicago to move to L.A. and bask in the did that come about?

First of all, if you are a model in Chicago, you will eventually end up
modeling on the Oprah Show.  I actually was honored to model on her
show a couple times.  On one show I got to model the purple dress that
Oprah wore to the Oscars when she was nominated for 'The Color Purple'.
While I was wearing the dress, Oprah came up to me, held my hands,
and said, "You sure are pretty in purple."  I tried to thank her, but I
started to stutter.  She held my hands tighter and said, "Don't let
anything keep you from your dreams".  I went back to my little studio
apartment that night, looked in my mirror, and said to myself,
"Melinda, I don't know how and I don't know when, but you will stop
stuttering...I promise".  It took several years for my speech to
straighten out, but as they say...the rest is history.  I am now a
straight talking working actress in Hollywood.  Thanks, O

Q6. You have lived both sides of the coin from living in a town where
there is not much to do but drive your car around in circles and tip
over cows to living in a town that has something going on EVERY SINGLE
NIGHT....does each have individual advantages?

Of course they do! I have always enjoyed having the best of both
worlds.  Let me set the record straight, Durand has a lot more to do
then just drive around in circles.  My Durand buddies and I always use
to say that when you live in a small town, you gotta create your own
fun.  We sure did create some good times in that small town.  Maybe it
was Durand that helped me discover my creative side.  LOL  I really do
enjoy going home to Durand.  I always look forward to home grown steaks
and Wisconsin cheese for dinner.  I adore sitting around a bon fire with
friends and family sipping on local homemade wine.  Buying an ice cream
at the Big Scoop, walking around town, and stopping to chat with
whoever is sitting on their porch.  There is a kindness and genuineness
in the people of Durand that you don't see often in other people.  Then
there is Los Angeles!!!!! there is a fast pace, exciting,
adventure.  Talk about varitey, LA has Hollywood, ocean, beaches,
mountains, incredible shopping and restaurants, desert, and
DISNEYLAND!!!  I have an annual pass to Disneyland.  After my family's
farm, Disneyland is my favorite place on earth.

Q7. People in Rockford go to Chicago or Milwaukee to go to the big city
but some of us ACTUALLY went to Rockford, Illinois to go to the
BIGCITY!!! do realize that that is funny to some people right
and what did you like most about Rockford growing up??

People find it funny when I tell them that, when I was a kid, we had to
drive over 30 minutes to get a Big Mac or go see a movie.  Rockford
definitely was Durand's BIG CITY.  I would assume that it still is.
Isn't there a bar in Rockford called 'Big City'?  Some of the first
things that pop into my head when I think of Rockford is... Colonial
Village Mall, Uncle Nick's Gyros, On The Water Front,  Metro Center,
Coronado Theater, Rock River, Beyer Stadium, blueberry pancakes at Aunt
Mary's, the J.C.'shaunted house at Halloween.
OMG....I just thought of a funny thing that
blows people's minds.  I remember going through driver's education in
Durand.  The 'big day' for every student driver was the day that we
drove to Rockford to learn how to drive with stop lights.  Everyone has
to go to Rockford to learn how to drive with stop lights, because
Durand doesn't have any!!!  Gotta love it!

Q8. There is a tightknit indie moviemaking scene here in Rockford and
you've made quite a resume of INDIE film work since moving out
west....what are the major differences between a movie like "With
Honors" and an independant film besides the obvious budget constraints?

Yes, Rockford does have an impressive indie movie making scene.  I have
met three of those brilliant peeps...Travis Legge, Tim Stotz, and
Melissa Revels.  They just produced a great horror film called
"Raymond Did It".  A couple months ago Travis and Melissa brought the
film out to Hollywood for a screening.  It was very well received and I
was totally impressed.  I insisted on Travis letting me read for their
next film, "Small Town White Kids", before he flew back to Rockford.
The reading was soooo much fun!!  Travis is definitely an actor's
director.  I am thrilled to say that I was offered a great role in
"Small Town White Kids".  I will be playing a single Mom who is doing
the best she can, with what she has, to raise her son.  Best of
all....I get to go home to Rockford and work on a film.  That will
definitely be a full circle moment for me.

As for the differences between studio films and indie films.... I think
the biggest thing is that indie films give everyone involved more of
an opportunity to be as creative as they can be in the telling of the
story.  Even though the big studios have lots of money, resources, and
connections, they also can pull the reins in on the creative process in
some cases.  I think if a writer, director, or producer is very
passionate about telling their story in its fullest original form, then
indie films are the way to go.  If you are in a position to give and
take a little with the creative process, then go with the studios.  Who
wouldn't want Sony or New Line Cinema on their team?  Either way, big
studio or indie, everyone is a family.  Everyone is coming together to
tell a story.  That will always remain the magic of film making no
matter what the budget.

Q9. Your first major TV exposure was on my favorite show "The Office".
You played the girl in the Sexual Harassment informational video that
everyone was forced to watch. It was awesome and you played into the
greater punchline when it was revealed that Darryl from Shipping and
Receiving had previously had a tryst with you. Was it at all
nervewracking to produce your segment as it was also YOUR favorite TV

Funny you should ask that.  Because I was the girl in the video, I
filmed my part seperate from the rest of the cast.  I always ask 'The
Office' fans this question...  I was in a scene with Steve Carell, but
I have never met Steve Carell.  How is that possible?  LOL  Because I
was in the video Steve Carell was watching.  I hope to someday meet
Steve and ask him that same question.  During my day on set, I did meet
Jenna Fischer, BJ Novak, and Craig Robinson.  You can tell everyone on
that set is one big happy family. They all went out of their way to
make me feel welcomed.

Q10. Your acting coach is Dee Wallace who is legendary to horror nerds
like myself. She is most known for E.T. but to us she is known for
"Stepford Wives", "Hills Have Eyes" "The Howling", "Cujo".....she can
show up at the Chiller convention and spend days signing autographs.
The logical question is what have you learned from her and when can we
see Melinda dripping with blood, possessed and screaming bloody murder?

Oh Dee...she is a definite Angel in my life.  LA has blessed me with
many mentors and Dee Wallace has become one my favorites.  As an acting
coach, she has taught me to bring my authenticity to every role.  She
pushes me and challanges me.  I have grown a lot as an actress and as a
person since I have met her.  Dee really supports her students.
Recently an indie film I was in, 'Rid of Me', premiered in New York
City at the Tribeca Film Fest.  The producers of the film held a silent
auction to raise money to help promote the film.  I asked Dee if she
would be kind enough to donate something to the auction.  Without
hesitation she donated a signed copy of 'ET" and 'The Howling' and a
signed 'ET' movie poster.  Dee loves her students and makes a point to
tell us that all the time.

As for me dripping with blood...I have been cast to play the mother of
a serial killer in the horror movie 'Watch Island' being produced by
Brad Hvolbeck.  In the past I have had the honor of working
opposite the Godfather of Horror himself, Mr. Tom Savini.  I love
working on horror movies.  Everyday on set is like Halloween.

Q11. Time for word association....we mention something and you spit out
a thought.....

Selma Hayak... A real woman-sexy, beautiful and CURVY

Coronado Theatre... The theater where I saw the movie 'Bambi'.  I must
have been 5 years old.

Oliver Stone... Brilliant

Dwight K. Schrute... LMAO

Jimmy Kimmel... he is another one that I worked with, but never met.
hummmm...I see a theme going on here.

Mann's Chinese Theatre... a place I take my family when they come to

Malibu... Paradise Cove!!!  My favorite beach in Southern California

Chuck Norris... what is up with those Chuck Norris jokes?

Winona Ryder... INCREDIBLE actress.  I wish I could say I dated Johnny

New American Theatre... where I took my first acting class.

Q12. Timeline word Association.......

1985- Durand High School...RAH, RAH, RAH

1989- attending Rockford College

1992- modeling in Chicago

1996- riding the rodeo....I'm serious

1999- driving across country...Hollywood or Bust!

2003- getting my first taste of indie film making

2005- Banged Darryl

2010- Started my own production company with my friend, Leslie Taylor.

2012- Will have produced my first three film projects.  YIPEE!!!!

Q13. Last're off the hook...almost....tell us the last

Last time someone called you Mel or Mindy...I am called Mel everyday.
Mindy was never my handle.

Last time you ate Beef a Roo.....Oh my goodness...I think when I was
living on campus at Rockford College

Last time you saw Cheap 'On the Waterfront'.  Rumor has it
they are performing in LA later this year.  "I want you..."

Last time you were inside Durand High Mother taught 3rd
grade at Durand for several years.  I was last in the Durand school
building last spring when she retired.

Last time got an autograph you got from a rock star or movie
honest...Chris Ledoux signed my cowboy hat a couple years before he
passed away.  Does that count?

Last time you rode RODEO... my last rodeo was in 1996.  I rode a bull
outside of Tulsa, OK.  I thank God everyday that I made it through my
wild years.

Last time you listened to RIPT...Funny you should ask.  I just became
their fan on Facebook.

Last time you saw a concert at the Metrocentre, Coronado or Waterfront?
  I took my Mom to see Neil Diamond at the Metro Center just before I
moved to California.

Last time you were asked to do a scene or script you DID NOT like or
approve of?
I once was sent a script where all the girl did was go
around and give guys blow jobs.  I was like, really?  Does she ever
stop long enough to speak?  Needless to say, I skipped that audition.

Last time you played video games in an arcade?  I just played Ms. Pac
Man at a bowling alley.  I forgot the pattern.  :(

Thanks again Melinda....any websites, films, thank you's you wanna get
in to your hometown 815 peeps?

YES...I have always wanted to send a BIG thanks out to the band 'Cheap
Trick'.  Nothing like hometown Rockford kids growing up and making
their dreams come true, to inspire the rest of us to do the same.
Whenever I am feeling a bit down, I just put on some 'Cheap Trick'
music and pretty soon I am ready to take on the world. Isn't it neat
that we can make a positive impact on someone's life, who we have
never met?  That's what Cheap Trick does for me.  THANKS GUYS!!! xo

My producing partner, Leslie Taylor, and I are creating a documentary
about the unique strip club scene in Portland, OR. Check out the
I am currently producing my first webseries that will be live on the
web by mid summer. Check out our Face Book page...

my Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) page...
I also have two films that I am in that are making the rounds this year.
Look for 'Saving Grace B Jones' starring Tatum O'Neal and 'Rid
of Me' starring Katie O'Grady and Theresa Russell.

Thank you Rockford Rocked.  All my love to ya!!  xo

Melinda posing next to Janis Joplin's Porsche
Ms. Chilton a.k.a. "Sexual Harassment Girl" in NBC's The Office
Melinda in a recent promo shot!!!
looking scared with legendary special effects master Tom Savini (Friday the 13th....etc)
I wonder if the Candyman stands in front of a mirror and says "Melinda" over and over
Melinda getting ready to plant a big kiss on Patrick Dempsey in "With Honors" while Joe Pesci stands around wondering why it's not him....