Abigail Woods Abigail Woods | December 8, 2022 | Feature
PHOTO BY JUSTIN PATTERSON
Melissa Saint-Amand (@msaintamand) is making her mark in the acting industry as she takes over the screen in numerous roles. From Ozark to The Premise, Saint-Amand is just getting started–Watch out, Atlanta.
Tell us a little bit about your childhood. What got you into acting and theater growing up?
I was an incredibly shy child so my parents enrolled me in a theater camp, the Springer Theatre Academy, when I was about 10 years old to try to get me to open up. Unfortunately for them, it worked a little too well and I fell in love with acting.
How and when did you begin to break into the industry and what was that experience like for you?
I didn’t try to break into the film industry until after I had graduated college. I had planned to go to New York to pursue a career in theater, but once I was there, I quickly realized how difficult it was to do theater if you didn’t sing or dance, so I decided to pivot. I had a difficult time finding representation in New York and heard through the grapevine about the Southeast film industry. It was a bit of a leap of faith at the time, but it paid off because once I got to Atlanta, my career started taking off.
You’ve played roles in a number of television shows, including Alicia on The Resident, Emily on NCIS: New Orleans and Vanessa on The Premise. Tell us a little about those experiences and what it took to obtain these esteemed roles.
I am fortunate to have a wonderful agent and manager who I truly credit my career to; without their belief in me, I would not be where I am today. All three characters I actually booked off of self-tapes. I remember when I first got into the industry, everyone told me it was virtually impossible to book off of tape, but after the pandemic, self-tapes are the industry standard.
PHOTO BY JUSTIN PATTERSON
You are best known for your breakout role as Jade on Netflix’s Ozark. What was that experience like?
Playing Jade on Ozark is perhaps the scariest thing I have ever done in my life, but has been a truly incredible experience. Not everyone gets the opportunity to work on a show the caliber of Ozark, and I feel really lucky to get to watch some of the best actors alive right now. There is truly no better master class.
On Netflix’s Ozark, what does a day on the job look like?
Call times vary, but often I have to be on set pretty early so I usually make sure I have clothes laid out and stuff ready to go the night before so I can just roll out of bed, make some coffee and head straight to set without too much effort. Being warmed up and ready to go as soon as you get there is pretty important because you never know how fast everything is going to go once you arrive, so I usually do some tongue twisters and run lines in my car on the way. Once I get to set, I grab some breakfast and, shamefully, another coffee. After hair and makeup, I like to run lines again until someone comes and takes me to set. Ozark is one of the friendliest sets I have ever worked on and it is always a pleasure to be there.
Do you have any best practices or routines? How do you get yourself prepared to embody the role of a character?
Like I said before, warming up vocals and moving my body is very important to me. Naturally, I am always nervous before a day of work because I want to do a good job, and movement and meditation always help ease my nerves. When I am in my trailer, I prefer to be reviewing my scenes and I often bring a character journal and spend time journaling as my character.
When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing around Atlanta?
I am lucky enough to live right by the Atlanta BeltLine and spend a lot of time walking and biking along there. I often recommend the BeltLine to visitors because it runs through so many different neighborhoods and has access to Ponce City Market, Krog Street Market and Piedmont Park. I recently became a volunteer at the Georgia Aquarium and highly recommend it to anyone in town visiting. It is one of the world’s largest aquariums and is highly dedicated to ocean conservation and research.
Finally, what advice would you give to young, aspiring actors hoping to make it in the acting industry?
I would tell them to be patient. No career is successful overnight; it takes years of hard work and dedication. The acting industry is no exception.