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American singer and television personality Melody Thornton is again crossing the bridge into acting to reprise her role as Rachel Marron in the UK and Ireland tour of the smash-hit musical stage show, ‘The Bodyguard’.

Melody Thornton is so much more than just a singer. Her repertoire consists of a multitude of accolades including playing the lead role of Rachel Marron in the musical stage adaptation of the 1992 movie of the same name, ’The Bodyguard’ for its tour of China in 2017. Now, She is about to reprise her role while the show tours the UK and Ireland from January 2023. “I am definitely approaching the character of Rachel very differently this time around. I didn’t know that I wanted to do it again until it showed up but when it did I was like ‘Yeah, let’s do that again!’ So I’m really, really happy.” She explains when I ask her feelings on being able to revisit the role. “I’m not as worried this time, especially with the travel, I am still going to be in another country but the pollution isn’t as bad [laughs]”. Melody mentioned she found it difficult in China to keep her voice healthy while trying to avoid dust and the elements. Despite the cold and wet British weather she will encounter, Melody is excited about the stretch of forthcoming shows.

“Rachel Marron is a pop star and actress, a triple threat but also a mother, focusing on her child and career–a rock star with a rock star attitude. She has no idea what’s going on or that she should be concerned for her safety and no one is telling her.” Melody responds when I ask more about the role. 

“‘The Bodyguard’ is a love story but it’s suspenseful as well. The musical has nice choreography and is action-packed and energetic which is a bit different from the film.” 

Most people will know Melody Thornton as a former member of one of the world’s most celebrated and well-known girl groups of all time, The Pussycat Dolls and was only nineteen years old when she travelled to California to audition. Thornton explains she had no prior formal training when she began her journey with the group. “It took me a second to actually realise what I did which is really crazy. Not a lot of people get the opportunity to do it the way I did it.”

Although she spent her time in the group singing and dancing, acting was never on her radar. “I never thought I would act at all, ever. It was just a case of many people telling me I should hone it because there was something there naturally so I did, bit by bit.

I was interested to know if there was anything she was eager to do differently about her portrayal of Rachel this time around due to knowing the character inside out. “It’s nice to add more layers as I think I know more about acting now; I’m always studying. I feel like my acting has evolved immensely so now I see her clearly, I don’t think she means to be a brat, she just has the room to be one” laughs Melody. “I’m sure if Rachel knew her son’s safety was in question then she would absolutely be on top of it. She’s also giving her bodyguard a hard time but what else, she’s a diva!”

A role like Rachel Marron in a show that celebrates some of Whitney Houston’s biggest hits demands such powerful vocals night after night. Melody will be doing everything she can to keep her voice in the best shape possible so as to give her all for each performance. “I’m in a completely different space from where I was the first time I did this show. I’m very, very calm now and I don’t baby my voice, but I’m a lot nicer to it” she replied when I asked how she planned to take care of her voice for the upcoming tour. “I like myself a lot more now than I did so there isn’t as much negative self-talk in a drill sergeant kind of way, either. In my head, that’s who I was the first time around so this time I’m more careful. I’m giving myself the room to really develop the character and also find my footing and my breath.” 

Nervous about making mistakes in the beginning which she will have to live with for the entire tour, Melody says she will be having more patience with herself, allowing room to really stretch her vocals “You have to be really healthy and not stressed out so that’s what I’m doing differently.”

Black blazer with skirt, Junjie Liu
Stilettos, Kurt Geiger
Small gold hoops, Giovanni Raspini
Gold necklace, Samantha Siu
Gold ring, Maison Lumiere

Without giving too much away, I wanted to know her favourite track to perform from ‘The Bodyguard’. “My favourite is ‘Queen Of The Night’. It’s really, really powerful”. Melody mentions that she thinks a lot of people had a hard time with the song at first due to it not being Whitney’s style. “All of the other songs are being sung kind of in different placements and you can sometimes be pressured by the track. What I like about it though is the drive and the power in the song, that’s why it’s my favourite to perform.”

Melody describes herself as always being a student, which she hopes to hold on to throughout her life. “I have a need to learn new things so as soon as the ball started rolling in the direction of acting, I got really, really into it and thought I may as well be as good as I can possibly be. I’m obviously still developing and am not by any stretch of the imagination Meryl Streep [laughs]. As I said, I never ever thought I would start acting but now I absolutely love it.”

Speaking more of her time with The Pussycat Dolls, Melody mentions feeling a sense of inexperience compared to the other, older girls but had a focus and maturity above her years. “People will audition all year long and not book one thing. The Pussycat dolls was my first audition, and I got it. At the time I had no idea the process of what people go through to sharpen their tools and thicken their skin, I was really thrown into the deep end and just had to stay there.” Melody said how grateful she is for the focus she had. “I would always say to myself my focus was the label and not the people I was working with–nothing against them–I just knew I had to focus on where I was going because I probably wouldn’t be with them forever. I want to give myself more credit now than I ever did as I used to be so mean to myself. It was wild and crazy I did that and then survived seven years.”

Growing up, Thornton was inspired to sing after listening to some of her father’s favourite artists, namely, BB King, Aretha Franklin, and The Jacksons. It’s clear her passion has always been with music but I was curious to know if she ever had a backup plan or other direction she thought her life may go. “One of the things music teachers and other adults would tell me was my confidence was healthy and in no way arrogant. Things would roll off and I had a good gauge for what I had. It also just made sense that my name was Melody, I’m a believer so I’m big on faith and spirit and thought ‘Why would my name be Melody if that’s not what I’m supposed to be?’. Even now if I feel down I’m like ‘No, this is exactly where you’re supposed to be’, so no, I didn’t have another plan” 

In 2020 Melody released her debut solo EP entitled, ‘Lioness Eyes’. The emotional EP cemented her as an artist in her own right. It is a self-reflective journey set to an Italian-Western-inspired soundtrack. I asked her if she felt pressure when going it alone as opposed to previously with the group. “I felt strongly as if I wasn’t going to get any support when releasing music away from the group. There was such confusion around this little black girl who hits the high notes ‘Can she do anything else?’ But I just wasn’t going to wait for anybody, you know. I also still felt like I needed to showcase that I could write as well. I have always written poetry but formatting songs and doing it my way was different. I do have a freedom a lot of other artists don’t have and have recorded a couple of songs recently where I’m like ‘This is fucking wacky! This is crazy’ but it’s great to me and if it’s great to you and you perform it that way then someone’s going to fall in love with it. Even if you’re not celebrated now, you will be” 

“With the EP, ‘Lioness Eyes’, the people who have enjoyed it love it. There’s nothing else out there as a body of music from a woman like me, saying what I’m saying. It’s just a reminder to do things your way.”

Melody has always funded her own music because she worried she would never get any support. “It was 2010 when we were done in the group and there was still very much this idea of ‘you’re a brown girl, you should make music like this’ which at the time was like Keri Kilson, she was the R&B girl. But I didn’t want to make music like her, not that I don’t like her music–I definitely do– it just wasn’t what I wanted to do. I love Ari Lennox, Summer Walker, and SZA. They’re all R&B girls but I’m a mishmash of different things.” 

“There were a lot of people in the past who, because I was so inexperienced, would say things like ‘Enjoy this now, this will be it for her’. I’m grateful for where I am and I would love to grow in the direction of film and if there was more opportunity to make music then I would love to do that as well but I’m so grateful for myself. I’m grateful for everyone who was there who is doing well because you get a lot of that and it’s actually bullshit. You’re growing something, developing something and it goes for any person, any young performer who feels pressured about what they’re doing and made to feel like they have to enjoy the process. One of the things I really adopted is a saying I’m reminded of whenever I see a feather. A nun said ‘Live your life like a feather on the breath of God’ which is to just let it go. Let it flow and it will flow in the direction it’s meant to flow in. If you have faith and just trust that you’re going to end up somewhere then it’s all going to be okay. I also adopted this mindset that life really is a game, whenever people say games they think of relationships and that it’s a negative thing but I think actually if you look at life like a game, it’s meant to be fun. What do you want? Who do you know? And how do you build a bridge to get there? All of these little minor victories lead to bigger victories. To me, that’s enjoying the process. Life is a game and this industry is the best place to play it.”

Over the years Melody has been wonderfully bold with her fashion choices a lot of which took influence from the 60s and 70s. I had to ask who some of her biggest style icons were. “I give my mom so much credit. Her natural style is just insane, she has really good instincts for it and also taught me about instincts and how to hone them or how to put a twist on things so I have to say, my mom. Her style is phenomenal. She also taught me to sew and how important it is. Also that the fit of clothes is 50-60% of it–the way that it looks on your body–don’t change your body, change the way it fits.” 

Speaking of other fashion icons, Melody gives mentions to Kate Moss and the late wife of Keith Richards, Anita Pallenburg. Overall, she explains what she looks for style-wise is a mood. “Lily Allen has a really nice style and I feel like I can see her mood as she’s walking down the street.”

With our interview drawing to a close, I asked what was next on the horizon for the American artist. “I’m always wanting to learn something new. There are some things in the pipeline, I don’t think I can talk about them currently so that’s the most I’m allowed to say but there are so many other things I want to do as well. Mostly, I just think about the people who are rooting for me and pay more attention to that now than anybody being mean to me online. If there was more theatre, that would be fantastic and if there were films or more television, that would also be great. I was manifesting so hard to sing the national anthem for the Super Bowl because it’s going to be in Arizona this year which is where I’m from but it’s in February and I haven’t heard anything. I’ll also be here on tour so it’s more just a spirit of things. There are so many people who want me to excel so I kind of want to show up for them–even though I don’t know what that means or what it looks like–I just want to do well for them because I know they want me to.”

https://www.thebodyguardmusical.com/#top

Photo Abeiku Arthur

Stylist Sian  O’Donnell 

Makeup  Karin Darnell 

Hair Alex Price

Nails  Chiara Ballisai 

Assistant kiera Sharp

Agency: Frank Agency and The only Agency

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