Two-time Screen Actors Guild Award winning American actress, director, and singer-songwriter Melora Hardin, daughter of character actor Jerry Hardin and sister of producer Shawn Hardin, was an actress for three decades before attaining TV stardom thanks to her portrayal of the no-nonsense boss and sometimes love interest Jan Levinson on the popular NBC sitcom “The Office” (2005-present), which was adapted from the hit British series of the same name. The versatile performer is also memorable as Tony Shalhoub's wife in the USA Network series “Monk” (2004-2008). Telling about her character in “The Office,” she stated, “I think just the way she has unraveled is kind of like the writers seeing something in me that I bring to the part and then me taking what they give me and being surprised by what they give me and it's a wonderful dance, kind of a collaborative little dance that we do together.”
A former child actress, the star of the 1977 series “Thunder” won a Young Actress Award for her role in the short-lived ABC drama “Two Marriages” (1983) and nominations for the drama series “The Family Tree” (also 1983) and the big screen version of “Papa Was a Preacher” (1985). She also memorably portrayed Baby in the short-lived TV adaptation of “Dirty Dancing” (1988). Her more recent TV and film projects include “The Rocketeer”(1991), “Absolute Power” (1997), “Cover Me: Based on the True Life of an FBI Family” (2000-2001), “The Hot Chick” (2002), “Thank You for Smoking” (2005), “The Comebacks” (2007) and “27 Dresses” (2008). Her numerous guest appearances include being seen in “Diff'rent Strokes,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “Caroline in the City,” “Diagnosis Murder,” “Friends,” “Judging Amy,” “Boston Legal,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Without a Trace” and “Gilmore Girls.”
After her TV success, Hardin branched out to directing. She received positive responses after helming Adria Tennor in the sold-out one-woman show “Strip Search” (2007). “You,” her motion picture directorial debut, is expected to be released in 2008.
Hardin is the wife of actor-writer Gildart Jackson, whom she married in 1997. The couple has two daughters.
Childhood and Family:
Melora Diane Hardin was born on June 29, 1967, in Houston, Texas. She is the daughter of noted character actor Jerry Hardin and acting manager Diane Hardin, who was responsible for the success of actors like Leonardo DiCaprio and Hilary Swank. Her brother, Shawn Hardin, is a producer and Flock CEO.
Melora grew up in Los Angeles, California. A born entertainer, she began to sing and write songs after listening to her idols Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand. When she was five years old, she began taking ballet lessons. By age 8, Melora had launched her acting career. She landed a toothpaste commercial on her very first attempt.
Melora won a scholarship to study ballet at New York's Joffery Ballet Company when she was 13 years old. She later attended Rocamora School and Sarah Lawrence College in Brooklyn, New York.
In 1997, Melora married actor/writer Gildart Jackson. She gave birth to a girl named Rory Melora Jackson on September 29, 2001. Her second daughter, Piper Hardin Jackson, was born in 2005. She and her family currently reside in Los Angeles.
“I believe the bumper sticker ‘Born to Perform’ was made just for me! I’ve been writing songs all my life. My mom says I wrote my first song when I was two.” Melora Hardin
Melora Hardin made her acting debut in a toothpaste ad when she was eight and moved to series TV two years later by joining the ensemble cast of a live-action children's show on NBC titled “Cliffwood Avenue Kids” (1977). It was followed by a starring role in the drama “Thunder” (1977), playing Cindy Prescott, and a guest role in an episode of the cult comedy “The Love Boat” (1978). In 1979, Hardin made her big screen debut in the zany Disney comedy “The North Avenue Irregulars,” which was helmed by Bruce Bison and starred Edward Herrmann, Barbara Harris, Susan Clark and Karen Valentine.
The following decade, Melora made guest appearances in such series as “Diff'rent Strokes,” “Quincy M.E.,” “Magnum, P.I.,” and “Hotel” and had recurring roles in “Little House on the Prairie” and “Tour of Duty.” She landed regular gigs in such shows as “The Family Tree” (1983), from which she was nominated for Best Young Actress in a Drama Series at the 1984 Young Artist Awards, “The Best Times” (1985, as Joy Villafranco) and the short-lived CBS adaptation of “Dirty Dancing” (1988), where she scored the prominent role of Frances “Baby” Kellerman. She won a 1985 Young Artist award in the category of Best Young Supporting Actress in a Daytime or Nighttime Drama for her work in the 1983 short-lived ABC drama “Two Marriages.” Meanwhile, on the silver screen, Hardin received a Young Artist nomination for Exceptional Performance by a Young Actress Starring in a Feature Film - Comedy or Drama for a drama based on the work of novelist Alyene Porter, “Papa Was a Preacher” (1985). Other credits include the comedies “Soul Man” (1986) and “Big Man on Campus” (1989) and the action film “Iron Eagle” (1986).
After playing Sandy Thomas in the independent drama “Lambada” (1990), Hardin got the dream role of a nightclub singer in the Disney period adventure “The Rocketeer” (1991), which starred Bill Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, Alan Arkin, Timothy Dalton and Paul Sorvino. In addition to offering a memorable cameo, she also performed two songs for the soundtrack. A working actress, Hardin sustained an imposing schedule throughout the 1990s by steadily appearing in shows such as “Quantum Leap” (1992), “Murder, She Wrote” (1994), “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” (1994), “Touched by an Angel” (1995), “Caroline in the City” (1996), “The Tom Show” (1997-1998), “The Pretender” (1998) and “Diagnosis Murder” (1999). She also gave a notable guest appearance as Celia in a 1995 episode of the NBC hit sitcom “Friends.” She regularly returned to films and in 1997, she supported Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Ed Harris and Laura Linney for Eastwood's underrated “Absolute Power.” The actress rounded out the decade with a small part in the Paul Lazarus-directed “Seven Girlfriends,” which enjoyed success at several film festivals.
Entering the new millennium, the thirty-something performer starred alongside Peter Dobson in the gritty drama “Cover Me: Based on the True Life of an FBI Family” (2000-2001). Airing on the USA network, the series lasted 25 episodes. She followed it up with guest spots in “Once and Again” (2001), “Family Guy” (2002), “Judging Amy” (2002), “The Division” (2003), “Navy NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service” (2003), “Boston Legal” (2004) and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” (2005). Hardin also costarred as Mary Beth in Stephen James’ comedy “Certain Guys” (2000), teamed up with Rob Schneider, Anna Faris and Matthew Lawrence for Tom Brady's “The Hot Chick” (2002), portrayed Summer Rossner in the based-on-novel “The Hollywood Mom's Mystery” (2004, TV) and delivered a strong performance as an interviewer in a satirical comedy directed by Jason Reitman, “Thank You for Smoking” (2005).
Hardin's career enjoyed a boost when she joined the cast of the USA Network series “Monk” in 2004. She played the recurring role of Trudy, the wife of Tony Shalhoub's obsessive driven investigator. However, it was not until she landed a regular role on the smash NBC series “The Office” the following year that the classically trained dancer enjoyed a real victory. Costarring with Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer and B.J. Novak, Hardin's portrayal of stone-faced manager and occasional lover Jan Levinson soon became an audience favorite and in 2007 and 2008, she co-won two Screen Actors Guild awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series.
Now a popular TV star, Hardin also managed to have guest roles in series like “Without a Trace” (2006) and “Gilmore Girls” (also 2006) and acted in several films, including “Boxboarders” (2006), “Drive Thru” (2007), “The Dukes” (2007), Tom Brady's “The Comebacks” (2007, as Barb Fields), “27 Dresses” (2008, starred Katherine Heigl) and “Mom, Dad and Her” (2008, TV). She then emerged as a successful stage director thanks to her work in 2007's “Strip Search,” a one-woman show penned and performed by Adria Tennor. The play received rave reviews from critics. Commenting about her work on “Strip Search,” she said, “I have to say it was a hugely fulfilling and satisfying experience to feel like all of your gifts are needed and wanted and required in every moment of every day.”
Recently, Hardin has completed filming “17 Again” (2009), a comedy directed by Burr Steers and written by Jason Filardi. She will play Miranda in “You” (2008), an independent drama which marks her directorial film debut. Husband Gildart Jackson wrote the screenplay and also has the role of Rawdon. The movie also features the couples' daughters Rory and Piper, Hardin's parents and some other friends and family members. Hardin is also set to costar with Miley Cyrus, Heather Locklear, Adam Gregory and Emily Osment in the upcoming comedy “Hannah Montana: The Movie” (2009), which will be directed by Peter Chelsom.
Apart from acting and directing, Hardin is an accomplished and talented singer/songwriter. She has released the acclaimed albums “Meloradrama” and “Purr.”
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, “The Office,” 2008
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, “The Office,” 2007
Young Artist: Best Young Supporting Actress in a Daytime or Nighttime Drama, “Two Marriages,” 1985