Melanie Robel: Let's Switch Gears

If you're reading my work here in chronological order, the last thing of mine you saw was a very impassioned and, perhaps, somewhat drunkenly emotional plea to end gender stereotyping in the horror community. Though I stand by what I said, it was also a tremendously dour piece, discussing a very serious and very hurtful topic.

So I decided that my follow-up to it would be something altogether more positive.

Articles exposing the misdeeds of people in the entertainment industry are the bread and butter of certain publications. Who shorted a waiter or waitress on a tip; who's cheating on whom; who thinks he or she is better than the little people. It's difficult to pick up a magazine or log onto a webpage without reading someone's thoughts on why someone else more visible or successful is made of total suck.

I'd like to switch gears from that and talk about Melanie Robel.

Melanie Robel has had an unconventional path to horror stardom. A premature birth led to her being born deaf, and she didn't begin speaking until the age of five. Having grown up speaking sign language and lip reading, an experimental surgery restored hearing in one ear; her plans for a career in dance were sidelined by an injury that led her to acting. Over the course of the past few years, she's made no small waves on the indie horror scene thanks to her roles in a variety of diverse and well received short films, most notably 2014's Lamb Feed. 2015 marks her big jump to feature length horror films, including the upcoming A Blood Story, a new take on the Elizabeth Bathory legend due our June 9th. I actually first learned of her by accident, when Facebook erroneously identified her as a director. Always interested in new female creative voices in horror, I contacted her to request an interview. It quickly became apparent that she had no directorial credits to her name. Yet her graciousness, charm, and eagerness to help promote the films in which she appeared quickly won me over, and for the past few months we've made several failed attempts to schedule a time to speak about her rising place in the horror world.

Recently, word spread on Facebook that I had begun work on a potentially controversial article dealing with a delicate situation in the horror community. Ultimately, I decided not to pursue this article; had it run, it would have cast individual men and women in a negative light and could potentially have harmed multiple people's careers. While I was still determining whether or not to run with the piece, I received a very unexpected message from Melanie regarding the article: She was concerned for the well being of someone who might be potentially harmed should it be published, and she wanted to speak on this individual's behalf. Her message was as honestly raw as it was impassioned, and her dedication moved me. She had no concern for the idea that I might not want to interview her now; she felt it would be wrong of me to pursue the story and she felt compelled to stand up for what she saw as the right side of a cause. She had everything to gain by having me interview her about her career; speaking out in the manner she did could, potentially, have cost her my attention, and, in doing so, harmed her chances of becoming more well known in the casual horror community. Such bravery is rare; such rectitude is priceless. Regardless of my opinion on the matter, Melanie--from a position of vulnerability-- put herself on the line to defend something she felt was right; this is behavior I cannot fault someone for, and which I can only see as commendable.

In my time in the horror community, I've seen a good deal of callousness and backbiting. I've also found it to be one of the few remaining industries where kindness, decency, and the lost art of simply being a good person can actually be rewarded, and where selflessness is a virtue rather than a weakness. Due to the obscurity of her work, I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing Melanie Robel in action beyond some trailer clips and demo reels; yet if her acting talents come anywhere near to her strength of integrity, I predict fantastic things from this girl of truly astounding character.

Preston Fassel