“Drama is a flower that can only bloom with happiness, patience and dedication,” at least that is how Melissa King, writer, poet and now winner of the 2013 National Drama Festival’s Best Actress Award in the Full Length category sees it.
She has been accredited the award for her outstanding role in Ronald Hollingsworth’s Watch de Ride 2 – Justice a sequel to Watch de Ride, which was also directed by Hollingsworth and Sheron Cadogan-Taylor. The play took the spotlight at the award ceremony and Melissa shared in that spotlight.
For her, the award is: “A really good, a great accomplishment for me, especially because of the fact that I really challenged myself in two plays – a full length and a one act play which dealt with two different characters.”
In Watch de Ride 2 she was cast as a major character, Pamela Pompey who was the centre of what Melissa described as, “a very dysfunctional family”. Pamela had to endure many tribulations for her age which made her seem mature and stronger than her ilk.
Despite the lack of affection, understanding and communication from her family – the character was fond of her brother, Michael (played by Sean Thompson). The play revolves around her.
Melissa confessed to being flabbergasted when she received the Best Actress award for this portrayal.
She was even nominated for the Best Actress Award in the One Act Play Category for her portrayal of a hurt wife in an abusive relationship in the play Before her Parting which came from the pen of award winning playwright, Mosa Mathifa and was directed by Tivia Collins.
Although this accreditation is her most prominent to date Melissa has had a few. This is due to her being in the spotlight ever since she was in nursery school.
Born on August 12, 1995 she grew up with her mother and older sister at Walker Terrace, a small community in Georgetown. She described her childhood days as great, as she was allowed to express herself freely. “I have always been a bold person, full of excitement and always ready for a new adventure,” she said. “I was always tomboyish, my closest friends were guys and it is always dramatic in my family with the exaggerations; most of the times I’m the most dramatic.”
According to Melissa, her interest in drama began when she was exposed to the beauty of it in nursery school. She was a student of the Liana Nursery School in the city, when she started taking part in the Mashramani celebrations: dancing, calypso, costume competition and expressing a keen interest in dramatic poetry. This continued in her years at the St Gabriel Primary School and North Ruimveldt Multilateral School, though in the latter it was strictly dramatic poetry.
In primary school her first major play was The Lintons of Lodge. Staged at the National Cultural Centre and directed by Paloma Mohamed, it dealt with the effects of littering and dumping. She performed alongside Henry Rodney and her aunt LaVonne George, two theatre icons that to this day she still admires.
From then on she has always been a part of the dramatic arts.
Melissa is an avid reader and did her first real writing back in Primary Two when she penned, “Love”. And in 2010 she was at the ‘Kid Stage’ competition where she was noticed by Guyanese writer Yaphet Jackman.
Jackman welcomed her to the Upscale Poetry family and since then she has taken writing seriously. She has been an Upscale poet since she was 14.
Melissa has won dozens of trophies since secondary school, always placing first in the Children’s Dramatic Poetry Competition.
She looks up to her aunt Lavonne George and multi-award winning actress Sonia Yarde as the fact is that they are really good actresses. “They know how to drop one character and pick up another,” she explained. “Their love for the arts is why I really want to continue.”
Melissa expressed that she has always played the daughter of someone in plays and was surprised when she was cast as an adult in Before her Parting. She now really wants to challenge herself by playing a blind role or even a “mad” one.
She wishes to embark on more writing in the future, hopefully writing a book of poetry touching on various topics. She expressed that drama needs to be promoted nationally; it can be aided by implementing the art into the education system. “Children need to have that love back for reading and drama.
The thing to do is make English Literature compulsory. It helps you to develop a kind of appreciation for the arts. It expands imagination and gives some sort of independent thinking,” she posited.
Melissa’s social life revolves around hanging out with fellow poets and “theatre people”. Come this September she is headed to the University of Guyana (UG) where she plans on majoring in Communication Studies, aspiring to become a journalist one day. She currently attends UG’s Institute of Distance and Continuing Education (IDCE).