Get out your :(‘s: one of the most colorful characters ever cast on I Want To Work for Diddy 2, is no longer in the running to becoming Diddy’s assistant. Below, Melissa talks about being an outcast, whether or not she is as crazy as everyone seemed to think, playing things up for the camera, cooking tacos and Lucite heels.
How was your time on the show?
The show was an amazing experience for me. I learned a lot throughout the challenges and in everything that we did.
You were characterized as an outcast. Was that a fair assessment?
I kept pretty much to myself. I learned a lot about reality shows from being on this show. What was happening was everyone being so competitive. I was there for the assistant part, you know? I was trying to play down the sexy and trying to work, and I found myself combating! Once I realized it was about the reality show, I was like, “All right guys, let me bring out the actress here. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet! You want crazy? I’ll give you crazy!” So I turn around *DING*, and I smile and they’d be like, “What the…? This girl’s quiet. Now she’s LOUD! She is crazy! What the hell’s the matter with her?” You know, I actually have trouble looking at myself on TV, but if I were looking at myself with the way it’s edited and the way it’s done, I’m like, “Oh my god, I really do look crazy!”
You’re so funny though!
Yes! I have taken acting, I do have a background in musical theater, and I’ve taken Meisner, I’ve taken the method. So if you want me to bring it on, I’ll bring it on. I mean, look at that scene when I’m singing “God Bless America.” Look at those facial expressions. You know what I mean? That’s total acting. But the fact was that I was exhausted. I mean, we slept outside. It was cold. And I just sang out. People are not going to know that I’m classically trained. People are not going to know. It’s like, “What are you doing to your career?” But getting back to what you were saying, because I don’t think I gave you a fair answer with how I felt about the show: I think Mr. Combs knows us all very well. I think he knows what we’re capable of. And I think he knows what it takes to be a great assistant, which is what I was trying to do. But under the circumstances, it is a reality show. And under all off the challenges and the stress and the drama, boy, everything just comes out totally different. I know Jen said I was an outcast, and people watching are going to think I’m crazy. With the things I’ve been doing and the craziness they’ve been seeing, maybe Stephen King will put me in one of his films in development, or Jack Nicholson will call and say, “Hey, we’re doing a remaking of Psycho!”
But Diddy too, said that you were crazy.
You know something, I try to see the show as little as I can, and I try not to read into it. But that hurts because it comes from him. The people that know me know that I’m not. They know that I’m really calm when I talk. And when I get excited I’m very “OH MY GOD!” For him to say that…I don’t know. I would hope he doesn’t think I’m crazy.
You’re definitely quirky. Even when you were confronted by Ivory and you walked over to the window and you sort of talked to yourself about the sword and the snake…
Yes! Let me talk to you about that. That was very interesting to me, because on a regular basis, I do pray. And yes, I do pray to St. Michael. The thing that was so crazy was that I was by the window and I was praying quietly, when you’re thinking nobody’s listening, you know? And all of a sudden: “She’s going to take the sword and slash the dragon!” Ivory has been quoting this. She has recaps of the episodes where she calls me a “She-Devil Worshipper.” I’ve sung in front of over 2,000 people at the Catholic church I attend, and they definitely know I’m not a “She-Devil Worshipper.” I’m a fully fledged Catholic. Look, I won’t be praying to St. Michael on television anymore. I think that these are the things that make me look quirky; those little things that you don’t know that you do in your life. You put them on television and they come out in different moments and it’s like, “Wow, OK.” You learn a lot about yourself as an actress, you learn a lot about yourself as a person, and you learn a lot about yourself with a little flub. During the show, I hustled my ass. And those things weren’t highlighted. But the little flubs or mistakes, I think are good for laughs. Even though I can’t watch them, I think that they’re great for laughs. There are things put in the show that made me want to slap myself and say, “Melissa, what the heck are you doing!? Stop talking so much! Shut up!”
Did you bond with anybody in the house?
At first, Ivory and I had a nice relationship. I think what happened was she thought that I was trying to go against her at some point, because I called her out at elimination. I didn’t call her out because…you know, it’s separate from friendship. It’s work ethic. I’ve worked in corporate for a while, and I was looking at her, and I was like, “This attitude just doesn’t fly. What you’re doing just doesn’t fly.” She would be restructured. Most of the people there, with those attitudes, would have gone through reorganization when they had a restructuring. So when I put her up, she was upset. She even said, “I’m here to win. And if anyone puts me out there, that’s it. I’m going to make their life a living H-E-double-L-L.” And that’s what she tried to do. And many times, even in the kitchen, I was cooking, she was helping me cook at some point. And sometimes I can play a bimbo, too. So I was like, “Oh, really, Ivory? Is that what you do with it?” because I knew she wanted the leadership role. I figured that maybe I could get back into her heart and we could sort of try to work this out without her being this way. No. It was impossible. So I had to just keep on rolling with the punches.
During that scene, were you trying to put aluminum in the microwave?
I don’t know what I was trying to do. I remember acting like a bimbo. I didn’t hear what she was saying. That’s probably what happened. And it probably came across like I didn’t know what to do. But come on, I cook every day. I make tacos. I mean, I know how to do what I have to do.
What about the last episode, where it seemed like you had a problem completing every task you were given?
I was so used to hustling and I thought everything was going well, with me and Dawn. When I went in the studio, she was receptive to me. I tried to do my best, but there was a moment when I went outside and it was raining and I was getting the stuff, and I saw I had to get this spa, and I thought I had to get this suit. And I was like, “Melissa…?” That’s when I knew it was it for me, because I questioned myself: “Is it worth it?” Aside from the acting, aside from the drama, I asked myself, “Melissa, is it worth it? Do you like to be front and center? Or do you like to be behind the scenes?” Because I realized, they’re actually asking for a spa? An artist is asking for a spa? Are celebrities really like this? Am I actually running right now to get a spa for someone? And all this food together at once? I was like, “Melissa, is it worth it right now? All of these efforts, everything you’re doing?” So at that point, when I asked myself that question, I knew it was over. Because I knew I wasn’t going to hustle as much because I wasn’t believing that what I was doing was going to get me anywhere.
That challenge seemed particularly miserable.
Yeah. One of the things I also looked at was, strategically thinking, I should have brought down Daniel with me, and not Jennifer. I think Jennifer makes better reality TV in the way that she was carrying herself on the set. I mean, take sexy and then take a suit and Lucite heels. Which one sells more? The ultra sexy! So I think that strategically, I didn’t think well. I think at that point I was exhausted from all the drama.
What do you think of your heels often being highlighted? They often panned down to them.
In real life, in corporate, I never wear those heels. In real life, I do like the sexy. But when you’re working in corporate, you have to wear your suit! It’s what it’s about! I had to throw in the sexy, but where am I going to throw it in? So I figured, “Just throw on these heels, Melissa. They’re under your thing. OK? OK!” When I saw the close-up, I thought, “All right guys, I didn’t want to wear those heels. I don’t wear them to work.” But it’s fine. It’s funny, it sells, so it’s OK.
Any thoughts on Poprah?
I loved Poprah. She stepped in, she was entertaining. Everyone on the set was entertaining. Despite everything that happened, for me, I think everyone was entertaining, and many times I laughed. So I don’t want to hold anything against anyone. It’s not what I’m about. I want to move on and continue to do what I’m doing outside of the drama.
What are you doing?
Before I went to New York for the show, I was working with the Miami Lyric Opera on a production, and I had to leave. So I’d like to continue with that. I submitted my transcripts from NYU to Columbia University, so let’s see what happens with that, because education is important to me. I’m also working as an ambassador for Pernod Ricard in sales promotion for their products. I’m trying to keep busy while being a mom. Just keeping it real. If I can get some performing in, great. Oh, also John Robert Harris called me to keep teaching the kids dance in West Palm Beach. So I have a couple of things going on. Let’s see what happens, you know?
How old are your kids?
My kids are 12 and 4. They’re a handful, but I love them.
Do they watch the show?
Yeah. My little 4-year-old says, “Mom, why does everybody hate you?” I found that really interesting. I usually have an answer for everything, but I didn’t have an answer for that one. I just stayed quiet.
Keep up with Melissa via her MySpace.