Actor • Director • Producer • Voice Artist • Writer • Lyricist • Practitioner
• Founder of Urban Young Actors •
Melissa May Smith has vast experience within the creative industries. Melissa is a member of both Equity and Spotlight. She also has an enhanced DBS certificate.
Melissa is a director of Curve Young Company and is currently directing the play 'Chaos' By Laura Lomas. Tickets are available here
Melissa also currently runs the 'Rootz' acting groups for the Nottingham Playhouse.
She is also currently directing the ACE funded mixed media project 'Stourbridge Stories: Those left behind.'
Melissa was recently interviewed by Antenna to discuss some of her creative work.
Over 20 years experience
Melissa trained as an actress at the The Television Workshop for 9 years after being selected through an audition process. She has been in numerous television and theatre productions over the years. Her television credits include 'The Amazing Mrs Pritchard' (ITV), 'Sons and Lovers' (ITV), 'Peak Practice' (ITV), 'A Thing Called Love'(BBC), 'Doctors'(BBC), 'Woof' (Carlton). She has also worked on various short films/idents/corporate films including BBC’s talent show ‘Upstaged’, Citizens Advice Bureau & Western Power Distribution. She has also been cast in many theatre productions including 'Romeo And Juliet', 'Double Indemnity', 'The Midwich Cuckoos', 'Second From Last In The Sackrace', 'Dark Of The Moon', 'Evacuees' and played the role of ‘Beatrice’ in the Stephen Lowe play: ‘Glamour’ at the Nottingham Playhouse. She has also worked with The Theatre Writing Partnership helping to workshop and develop various new scripts. Melissa has also completed work with BAFTA and BFI for various stage/film projects.
Melissa most recent projects include ‘Without Sin’ (Left Bank Pictures & Build Your Own Film), NHS Active bystander films and videos for The FA & Premier League.
Theatre and film
Melissa directed her first play 'Shakers restirred' when she was 20 and totally fell in love with directing. She has since directed & produced various theatre productions including 'The Riots', 'Dracula", 'Alice in wonderland', 'Burying your brother in the pavement', 'Fur coat and no knickers', 'Dust', 'Headstrong' 'A million tiny plays about Britain' & 'Johnny and the dead'. Melissa has also commissioned playwrights such as Sara Bodinar and Nic Harvey to write original scripts which have then been performed. Melissa has also lead devised/non scripted promenade pieces such as the audience interactive 'Project LE1'.
Melissa also directed/produced the independent feature film 'Who's afraid of the Duke of Edinburgh?' and around 20 short films including 'An eye for an eye' and 'The Regime'.
She has also created and hosted 2 sell out short film festivals and written the films screened during them.
Melissa has also co-produced various short films. One of note was 'Big Society' which went on to win at the Born shorts film festival in Denmark, was screened at the short film corner in Cannes and received a special mention in Encounters film festival. The film can be viewed here.
Another film that Melissa was particularly proud to be part of was 'respect me' which can be viewed here.
Most recently Melissa directed a national tour of 'Seeking Isolde' a new family show for Standing 8 Theatre company.
Melissa has been a voice over artist for many years working in adverts and narration. Melissa is able to perfect various different voices and styles to fit the brief of the client.
A sample of Melissa's narration for Vision Bangladesh can be found here.
Melissa has also recently dedicated time to exploring one of her first passions- Music. She wrote her first song in her bedroom aged 14 and is now enjoying collaborating with musicians as a lyricist for a whole range of different genres of music.
Urban Young Actors
Melissa founded Urban Young Actors in January 2008 and led the group until March 2021. Urban is a drama group for young people aged 8-21 based in Leicester. Melissa was involved in every aspect of urban from conceiving all the creative projects to running the business side of it.
Melissa loved every second of teaching and nurturing the urban members for over 13 years and also ran specialist workshops in various schools and establishments during this time.
Urban has now got a notable alumni including Mahalia (Mobo award winner), Owen Warner (Hollyoaks - Channel 4) and Jurell Carter (Emmerdale - ITV)
The group is now under new ownership but Melissa continues to be its number 1 supporter!
To watch a documentary on Melissa's time at Urban, please click here.
Melissa now also works with The Actors Workshop Nottingham teaching actors 18+ and offers business consultancy for the group.
Melissa now offers a limited number of private zoom lessons for anyone aged 10-100 interested in furthering their creative skills or who specifically are preparing for an audition. Melissa is currently enjoying working with international students (as far away as China!) as well as those in the UK. Please get in touch for further information.
Channeling thoughts into creativity
Through her own life experiences, working with actors for many years and understanding the importance of mental wellbeing, Melissa has created a new concept of workshops called ‘Therapeutic Creativity’.
During these sessions, Melissa shares holistic and practical exercises that can also be used beyond the sessions to support positive mental health outcomes and explore how our thoughts can be channeled through various forms of creativity.
These sessions are not formal therapy but are particularly helpful for people that may want to discover a creative outlet which could be beneficial to their wellbeing.
Therapeutic Creativity is suitable for school aged children upwards. It can be adapted to suit a multitude of environments including the work place, schools, colleges, universities, hospitals & retreats. It is also suitable for one on one coaching. For further information please get in touch.
Founder - The Actors Planet and director of Urban Young Actors
Melissa is a creative powerhouse who I've had the pleasure of working with over the last five years. I greatly admire her tenacity, work ethic and ability to inspire those around her. She is deeply passionate about her work and I’ve rarely come across anyone in my professional career who is as caring and as kind.
Head of Participation, Nottingham Playhouse
I have found Melissa's work to be thoughtful, sensitive, well-planned, detailed and showing her to have a wealth of experience. She is a pleasure to work with and to be around, and young people in particular respond very positively to her input and leadership.
Mobo winning artist
It's really interesting now, as a musician, how something like acting and drama skills can correlate with something like music. I am really grateful for my time at urban and really grateful to you Melissa.
Actor - currently playing 'Nate' in Emmerdale (ITV)
Genuinely I couldn't have wished for a better group nor a better teacher. Melissa is an amazing woman, she is so humble she is so genuine, she will give you her time, she will give you her patience, she will give you her care and her love, she will give you herself and for me that's what you need. She's got so much passion, there is not a better person to learn off than a person that has so much passion for what they are doing, and Melissa has all that and more.
Actor - currently playing 'Romeo' in Hollyoaks (Channel 4)
I came to Urban as a 13 year old energetic and mischievous kid, not knowing anything about acting. Melissa managed to channel all my energy into her classes and fully got me hooked on the world of acting. She helped me find my passion and love for performing and taught me the skills every actor needs. Without Melissa and Urban there is no way I would’ve even been able to make a dent in the industry.
Melissa’s wonderful performance as Beatrice in the Nottingham Playhouse production of Glamour by Stephen Lowe - will resonate forever! She lights up the stage with her warmth and delightful energy. A pure joy to work with.
Dave Alexander Smith
Independent Video Producer & Director
Melissa is extremely professional and great to work with. As well as her acting talent, she is a really positive presence on set and is particularly good at putting younger actors at ease.
Director - Category:Peach
Melissa’s infectious passion, lively rehearsal rooms and astute directing made me fall in love with performing and performance making. She provided me with a rich foundation and the confidence needed to excel not only at Urban, but within drama settings during my formal education and future endeavours. She not only taught me this however, she inspired us through bravely and adeptly demonstrating her stunning acting skills.
Melissa’s ability to create supportive, fruitful but critical rehearsal rooms has deeply enriched the lives and careers of so many of whom look back on their time learning from Melissa with great delight and fondness. Melissa now leaves Urban having embedded a strong legacy and culture, of which was great enough to keep me there for 11 years!