When it comes to dreams, Melissa Fletcher shoots for the stars.
She literally wanted to be a star.
The Fort Frances native, who now lives in Toronto, had plans to be an actor, a ballerina, and
a stand-up comic before finally settling on the idea of becoming a talent agent.
It hasn't been an easy ride.
After years of juggling multiple jobs, Fletcher finally was able to pin down a full-time posit
ion as an assistant for Ronda Cooper, an agent at the Characters Talent Agency in Toronto.
“I don't take no for an answer,” said Fletcher, who got her foot in the door at Characters by
working “for free” three days a week.
“I told them, 'I don't make enough money working for free,'” she laughed.
Fletcher also had a part-time position at Wine Rack and the National Ballet as a sales represe
ntative at the time to pay the bills.
“I was going to every single interview I could," she recalled. "And lying to my other jobs.”
Fletcher always has had a knack for drama and big dreams, and was an avid participant in the d
rama program at Fort Frances High School.
Teacher Susan DeGagne recalled her being a “star drama student.”
After graduating from high school, Fletcher took a year off to try her hand at dancing. She ha
d never danced professionally in her life up to that point.
“I thought I would be a principal dancer for whatever reason," Fletcher laughed. ”I saw a ball
et or something and it was really good.
“I wanted to go to performing arts school and you have to audition to get in, but there was a dance component,” she added.
"So I had to learn.
“I loved ballet," Fletcher continued. "I thought to myself, 'I could totally do this.'”
But Fletcher later decided to scratch that idea after auditioning for—and being rejected by—the Canadian College of Performing Arts twice.
"I remember sitting in the audition thinking, 'Oh, you know what? Maybe this isn't for me.'
“Maybe I'm not going to be the strongest dancer.”
After a bit of thought, Fletcher decided to enroll at Humber College in Toronto for a general year in arts and sciences.
As the year came to a close, she went off on a whim by deciding to audition for the comedy writing and performance program there.
“I got in and it was very exciting,” Fletcher said of the two-year program.
"It was the greatest group of teachers and kids who have the most creative mindsets.
“Comedians are crazy,” she added with a laugh.
But that dream came to a close quickly, as well.
“In second year, I remember sitting in improv class being so uncomfortable because everybody was really good at it,” she recalled.
“It's not that I wasn't good at it," she stressed. ”I just couldn't pick it up as quickly.
“I was so afraid all the time doing stand-up," she admitted. "It wasn't natural at all.”
But during her time in the comedy program at Humber, Fletcher got the idea to pursue a career as a talent agent.
She noted comedians spend a lot of time working for themselves so they learn how to be their own agent.
Although Fletcher wasn't learning exactly how to become an agent, some of the skills she acquired at Humber were transferable.
Through a professor, she was able to interview with a few talent agents for a position but no one hired her.
Then one day, she was working at the National Ballet when Ronda Cooper walked in, one of the agents she had interviewed for.
“She didn't remember who I was," Fletcher noted. "But as I started talking to her, it all came back to her.”
Cooper mentioned to Fletcher that if she wanted to intern, she should contact the agency.
Fletcher did just that and landed an internship there three days a week. But it was unpaid.
“I remember working for free, working a few days a week at the ballet school, including my weekends, and working at Wine Rack anywhere else I could fill in,” she recounted.
"I never stopped working.
“Also, I was sneaking in interviews where I could because I couldn't work a million jobs forever.”
Fletcher eventually landed an interview with a different agency.
“I had a really good interview at an agency downtown and he offered me a job,” she remarked.
"It almost seemed too good to be true because I was being offered everything I wanted.
“[But] I hadn't done it full-time yet,” she noted, adding that she was nervous.
“It felt a little too much," she admitted."[But] I thought, 'Am I stupid if I don't take it?'”
Still, Fletcher said she didn't want to leave Characters because she loved how they ran their business.
Reluctant to leave, she went and talked to the president of Characters to see if they could work out a position for her.
“I was so spread thin and I didn't want to leave,” she recalled.
As it turned out, Cooper's assistant had just quit so a positioned opened up for Fletcher.
She has been working there since October and loves her job, which involves dealing with a roster of individuals looking for acting roles.
Productions will put out calls for cast members and Fletcher will submit the individuals on her roster that she thinks will be best-suited for the role.
Her job involves a lot of scheduling and booking for these clients.
Fletcher also communicates a lot with teams in New York, Los Angeles, and Vancouver.
“We're always trying to get the best deal for our clients," she noted. ”Because it is a business.
“I'm always updating their résumés, too, when they get work.”
Fletcher said her favourite part of the job is telling her clients they have landed a role.
“When clients book something, it's so fun to tell them,” she enthused.
"Sometimes they're yelling and screaming on the phone because they're so excited.
“It always makes your day when someone is grateful for what you've done,” she added.
But Fletcher also said her job can be stressful at times.
“It's a lot of people to be thinking about at once,” she noted.
“Work always comes home with me.”
But when asked how long she wanted to do this for, Fletcher replied, “Forever.”
“I'll be an assistant for a while, I'm sure," she admitted. ”But there is still so much to learn before I can be an agent.
“It's nice to have someone as well-respected and experienced as Ronda to work with,” she added.