”Melissa Molinaro” (formerly Melissa Smith) may be best known for being a fierce competitor on both “Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search For the Next Doll” and “Making The Band 3,” but she’s much more than a reality TV star. In constant demand as a singer, actor and dancer, Melissa is currently the star attraction in Old Navy’s national “Super C-U-T-E” campaign, has a major role in the dance/romance film “Honey 2” slated for release this year, and this month she will release her debut single and video “Dance Floor” (with choreography by JaQuel Knight, the mastermind behind Beyonce’s epic routine in the “Single Ladies” video and production by Fuego whose credits include Jason Derulo’s #1 hit “Whatcha Say”).
Melissa’s acting credits include a co-starring role as a sexy pop-star held hostage in Dolph Lundgren’s international action film “Command Performance” (now available in the U.S. on DVD and iTunes), a recurring role on “The Young and the Restless,” and appearances in TV shows “How I Met Your Mother” “Brothers,” “Grounded for Life,” “Rodney” and “Happy Family” and commercials and print ads for Del Taco, Microsoft, Xbox, Skechers and Nivea. Her music video and webisode credits include projects by acts as varied as Celine Dion, The Black Eyed Peas and JC Chasez.
Melissa’s first love has always been music. On “Making The Band 3,” she came very close to landing a spot in the group Danity Kane (she was the last contestant to be cut), and on “Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search For the Next Doll,” she won many challenges and finished as the 3rd runner up. Through these experiences, Melissa honed her skills as a performer and has now directed all of her energies into becoming a successful solo artist. In 2008, she recorded her debut solo single “I Believed” with producer Rex Rideout, and the video for “I Believed” has received nearly one million views on YouTube.
In 2010, she recorded her debut album, “The Love/Dance Project” (slated for release later this year), which features contributions from Grammy-winning Black Eyed Peas producer Keith Harris and Grammy-nominated mixer/engineer Ari Levine of The Smeezingtons, among others. When asked to describe her album, Melissa said, “I had a lot of freedom to help shape the creative direction of the album and was a co-writer on most of the songs. I recorded some of the songs while I was in love, some while my long-term relationship was ending and some while recovering from a very painful break-up, so these songs are like snapshots of all of the different experiences I was going through. So there’s a lot of different emotions in these songs.”
On the surface, the first single from Melissa’s album (the infectious uptempo “Dance Floor”) feels and sounds like pure club bliss, but Melissa says that even a song as free and fun as “Dance Floor” has some feeling behind it. “If you listen closely, ‘Dance Floor’ is actually about someone going to the club to escape a relationship that’s under stress,” said Melissa. “In that song, the dance floor itself becomes like a substitute boyfriend – at least for the night anyway. And that rings so true to me. I never feel more free than when I’m dancing!”
Melissa Molinaro was born Melissa Ann Smith was born in Toronto, Ontario, to a Canadian father and an Italian mother (a former Miss Italia). Her family moved to Rochester Hills, Michigan near Detroit when she was 13 and her father and brother still work in the automotive industry in Detroit. She attended Deborah’s Stage Dance Door Performing Arts Academy and was cast as the lead in on-stage productions (including “Cinderella,” “Beauty and the Beast”, and “Cabaret.” As a model, Melissa won 2nd place at a National Miss Photogenic Competition at the age of 16.
Melissa recently adopted her mother’s maiden name “Molinaro” as her professional surname to pay homage to her mother’s proud native Italian roots.