How does a girl from a small town in the Midwest who falls in love with acting grow up to become a successful working L.A. actor with 40 film and TV roles, and almost countless commercial credits? And become the iconic fairy Godmother in Disney’s Descendants franchise?

Join me and my guest Melanie Paxson on this episode of Hometown to Hollywood and find out!

Melanie is best known for her role as the Fairy Godmother on Disney Descendants and Descendants 2, as well as Dolly, Walt Disney’s secretary on Saving Mr. Banks. Her guest star appearances include roles on series including The Drew Carey Show, Rules of Engagement, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Joey, Medium and Last Man Standing. She is also the former Red Robin Burger Mama!

Melanie Paxson has a BA in theatre from the University of Missouri, then trained at Second City in Chicago. She performed with the renowned theatre troupe Steppenwolf Theatre before coming to Los Angeles at 26.

We cover some great topics in this conversation, including the benefits of training at a university vs. just going straight to professional work at 18 (or younger). We also discuss what it’s like to land in LA as a young adult, what keeps her going as a successful working actor, and much more. She even gives a little shout-out to SAG-AFTRA for being a great union with terrific healthcare—which it is!!

Some of my favorite quotes from our conversation:

  • “It unfolded effortlessly.”
  • “I was nice and delusional.”
  • “If you are unstoppable, no one’s going to stop you but yourself.”
  • “Doors will open, you go through that door, then another door opens.”
  • “Family is important… it keeps me grounded.”
  • “You need to show up early, and be focused.”
  • “This business is definitely about perseverance.”
  • “If you know it in your heart, then you just keep taking the next step.”
  • “When you’re really lucky, you get to tell amazing stories.”
  • “That’s my job: I audition.” Click To Tweet


Follow Melanie Paxson HERE:

Twitter: @MellyPaxson

Instagram: @MellyPaxson

Facebook: @MellyPaxson


Melanie’s story illustrates one of the many paths into a career in Hollywood: you start where you are, study with the best resources available, including university training, then eventually make your way to Los Angeles.

Everyone’s journey is different, but there are common threads that run through the stories of all successful actors: perseverance, faith, hard work, and a great attitude. Staying grounded and maintaining perspective.

I offer consulting services for parents of young actors, or for young adult actors. A single hour with me can answer your questions, including questions you didn’t know you had, and provide an action plan to get you moving toward that dream. WHILE keeping a sense of perspective!

If you’d like some help figuring out your next move, schedule a Skype consultation with me HERE. I look forward to talking with you!