For Emmy Award-nominee and SAG Award-winning actress Melora Hardin, beloved for her roles as Jan Levinson on The Office and Trudy on Monk, life seems to be in constant motion. Acting since she was 11 years old, Melora Hardin has starred in more than 70 movies and TV shows, ranging from exciting thrillers to feel-good Hallmark Channel movies to competing on Dancing with the Stars. “Artistic expression doesn’t just enhance my mood, it has become food for my soul when times are tough," the 56-year-old actress tells First for Women. Here, we take a walk down memory late and take look at Melora's wide repertoire of creative talents and find out what she's working on next.
Melora Hardin young years
Born in Houston, Texas on June 29, 1967, to actor parents, Melora moved to San Francisco at the age of five. She began acting, singing and dancing early in her childhood and made appearances in shows like The Love Boat, Little House on the Prairie and Magnum P.I.
As a young girl, Melora was taking ballet lessons at a dance studio where Patsy Swayze taught, when in came Dirty Dancing leading man himself, Patrick Swayze. When Melora turned 13, Patsy’s son Patrick showed up to teach jazz moves to the young teens and opened up a whole new world of dance to her.
Melora Hardin Movies and TV shows
A true renaissance woman, take a look at her life and extensive career over the years.
The Iron Eagle (1985)
Melora Hardin played the love interest of Jason Gedrick in The Iron Eagle, an action film in which Gedrick sets out to find his father after his plane was shot down over enemy territory.
Melora played a jealous and lovestruck student in the 1990 film Lambada, opposite J. Eddie Peck, a schoolteacher who spends his evenings dancing the lambada at clubs.
Melora shows off her dancing skills in this still from the 1990 film.
Absolute Power (1997)
Melora played the role of a billionaire's wife in Absolute Power, who becomes involved with the President of the United States, only to meet a brutal end.
The Hollywood Mom's Mystery (2004)
This TV movie mystery, The Hollywood Mom's Mystery, follows a woman who must clear her and her husband's name when the body of a Hollywood starlet is found dead in their pool.
Monk (2004 - 2009)
Melora played Trudy Monk on the hit series Monk for five years. The show follows Adrian Monk, a brilliant former San Francisco detective, who now consults the police as a private consultant who battles with an obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The Office (2005 - 2013)
One of the most well-known Melora Hardin movies and TV shows is The Office, where she played the role of Jan Levinson. Her hilarious interactions with Steve Carell's Michael Scott carried some of the show's funniest episodes. The Office was a clear display of how Melora could hold her own in a comedy setting, and her performance was simply iconic.
Melora poses alongside her fellow female co-stars of The Office at the 13th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards where they won for Ensemble in a Comedy Series.
17 Again (2009)
Melora shined brightly in the 2009 comedy, 17 Again, where she played Principal Jane Masterson. The film stars Zac Efron, Matthew Perry, and Thomas Lennon, who she has a romantic relationship with in the film.
Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009)
Melora played Lorelai in Hannah Montana: The Movie alongside Miley Cyrus and Billy Ray Cyrus in 2009.
Wedding Band (2012)
Melora played Roxie Rutherford in The Wedding Band, a TBS series about four men who spend their spare time performing in a wedding band on the weekends.
A Million Little Things (2018)
Melora played the role of Patricia Bloom in the series A Million Little Things.
Dancing with the Stars (2021)
Melora appeared on Season 30 of Dancing with the Stars. In conversation with UsWeekly, “I knew that I was taking my body to another level, but I wasn’t sure how much of an emotional toll it would take," said the actress who made it to the semi-finals and ultimately finished in 6th place. The intense creative challenge gave Melora many sleepless nights. “I couldn’t sleep well because I was doing the dance in my head every night.” Hardin admitted that when times got tough, “you got to feel it and enjoy it and dance it," noting that her acting background was a major resource for each routine. “Take it one step at a time.”
Love, Classified (2022)
In the Hallmark romance Love, Classified, Melora plays the role of Emilia, who returns back home after being away a while and begins a journey of re-connecting with her children.
What Melora Hardin is working on today
Currently, Melora’s keeping busy directing a personal four-part docu-series, Thunder, Hunter, and Me, about helping her friend heal from childhood trauma. She is also a successful collage artist, creating collages that have been transformed into wallpaper, known as Storyboards by Melora Hardin. “I’ve been a collage artist really all my life,” she says. What can't she do?!
Melora's tight knit family is an integral part of her day-to-day life — she even collaborated with her husband and two daughters, Rory and Piper, on her husband's project, Fireside Reading, in which he began streaming live readings of classic books over Instagram and YouTube.
“Gildart has a warmth and magnetism that radiates comfort and friendship. And our daughters are involved too - Rory does some of the illustrations and Piper writes and performs the songs - so it’s a true family affair," says Melora on the Fireside Reading website.
Want more Melora? Check out these stories from FIRST!
Bonnie Siegler is an established international writer covering the celebrity circuit for more than 15 years. Bonnie’s resume includes two books that combine her knowledge of entertaining with celebrity health and fitness and has written travel stories which focus on sustainable living. She has contributed to magazines including Woman’s World and First for Women, Elle, InStyle, Shape, TV Guide and Viva. Bonnie served as West Coast Entertainment Director for Rive Gauche Media overseeing the planning and development of print and digital content. She has also appeared on entertainment news shows Extra and Inside Edition.