Melissa Maxwell

Director of Professional Development

In addition to being the Director of Professional Development at the Stella Adler Studios, Melissa Maxwell is Co-Associate Artistic Director of the Great River Shakespeare Festival, and is a freelance director, writer, actor, filmmaker, and motivational speaker.

DIRECTOR credits include: Trouble in Mind, Utah Shakespeare Festival; Keith Josef Adkin’s Safe House, Repertory Theatre of Saint Louis (received 6 St Louis Theatre Circle Award nominations, “Best Director” mention, BroadwayWorld’s BEST OF 2015, and was Ranked #3, The Best of St. Louis Theater 2015, Ladue News); The African Company Presents Richard III, Nevada Conservatory Theatre (received a 2019 BroadwayWorld Las Vegas Awards “Best Director” nomination); four-time EMMY-winner Judy Tate’s Slashes of Light, The Kitchen Theatre world premiere; the musical Show Way, Vital Theatre, based on Jacqueline Woodson’s award-winning children’s book (received an Off Broadway Alliance ‘Best Family Show’ nomination); American Slavery Project’s Unheard Voices, a theatrical event developed to give voice to the nameless souls buried at the African Burial Ground in NYC (; the world premiere of scientist Carl Djerassi’s (creator of the contraceptive pill) Taboos at Soho Playhouse; the world premiere of Andrea Lepcio’s Tunnel Vision at Pittsburgh’s Off the WALL Theatre; Nathan the Wise at the Pearl Theatre Company. Melissa specializes in developing new plays. Playwrights she has worked with in this capacity: L Trey Wilson’s STAY; Andrea Lepcio’s Tunnel Vision; Judy Tate’s Slashes of Light (NYCWAM Collaboration award Honored Finalist); Jonathan James Norton’s My Tidy List of Terrors; Nandita Shenoy’s By Popular Demand. SDC Member.

WRITER: Her play SALT IN A WOUND, is a Julie Harris Playwright Competition finalist, was produced by Chicago’s eta Creative Arts Foundation, received 5 Black Theater Alliance Award nominations, including Best Play and Best Writer, and a “Production of the Year” nomination from The African American Arts Alliance of Chicago. UNREQUITED LOVE was produced at New Perspectives Theatre Company in NYC and received an Audelco Award nomination and a New Professional Theatre’s Our Words Award for excellence in playwriting. Unrequited Love is in print and is available through all major booksellers or download through iTunes. Her one-act, FETUS ENVY, was produced in the NYC Fringe Festival and by manhattantheatre source. It is published in their anthology, Book of EstroGenius 2007. Dramatist Guild member.

ACTOR credits include: FBI: Most Wanted, Manifest, Mrs. Fletcher, Madam Secretary, HOSTAGES, The Thomas Crown Affair, Law & Order, The Sopranos, Third Watch, Oz, Special Victims Unit, Never Again, Petty Crimes, 13 Conversations About One Thing, Jonny Zero, As The World Turns, All My Children, numerous regional theatres (including The Guthrie, GRSF, George Street Playhouse, The Public Theatre in Lewiston Maine, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, The Pearl Theatre Company, Capital Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse, Crossroads Theatre). Melissa started her career as a voice over artist at WGBH radio in Boston where, most notably, she played Eliza to James Earl Jones’ Tom in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Since then she has recorded numerous audiobooks for the American Federation for the Blind and several voice overs for commercials and industrials.

FILMMAKER: Melissa’s short film FETUS ENVY, a political satire that examines where our society is headed when women’s healthcare is commandeered by ambitious politicians and faceless bureaucrats, can be viewed here: (trt: 13mins)

MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER: Melissa is often asked to speak at schools and universities. Most notably, Most notably, she has given two TEDx Talks. Taking Ownership: Melissa Maxwell at TEDxMosesBrownSchool and On Courage: Melissa Maxwell at TEDxBarnardCollegeWomen.

Posted in