Interview: Melody Thornton

Interview: Melody Thornton

As she heads to New Wimbledon Theatre in The Bodyguard, the former Pussycat Doll tells us why she loves coming to SW London, her life in LA and her inspiration…

Melody Thornton is no stranger to south west London, having graced the stage in Cinderella at New Wimbledon Theatre back in 2019. “I’m so excited to be in Wimbledon again,” she says enthusiastically. I will be back in my old stomping grounds, which I’m so grateful for. I love that theatre. It was my first Christmas doing a panto. I did miss my family though.” She is starring as Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard, a musical adaptation of the iconic feature film with Whitney Houston. It’s her second time playing this role – she had done it on a tour in China almost six years ago.

“I am approaching it as though I’ve never done it before and really thinking about my space in the music industry as a Black artist, about Whitney Houston and the doors that she opened up for so many Black artists – because she was a pop singer. I think, as she did, that pop music is for everyone. I wouldn’t have my foundations if it weren’t for Whitney Houston.

Melody joined the then newly formed Pussycat Dolls at only 19 years old and remained with the group until its first hiatus seven years later. She didn’t rejoin the subsequent reunion, and neither is she planning to if another one was to happen: “I really don’t think about Dolls now. I always hope that everyone is well, healthy and happy. But when it comes to performances, I don’t think about it at all. I was under so much pressure. Whatever it is that I choose to do next, it will be in a more positive work environment – like The Bodyguard.”

She has since embarked on the difficult journey of being an independent musician. In 2020, the most tricky time of all given the pandemic, she released her EP Lioness Eyes. “My music is all modelled after the late 60s, early 70s. It also has a lot to do with the area in the United States where I grew up – the southwest. I always liken it to a Quentin Tarantino film score, for example a Kill Bill score. The way that I see it is if you listen to the project from beginning to end, it’s a journey from innocence to experience. Because that’s what happens as we get older, you have to learn to forgive yourself.”

She loves acting. “I think I’m very calm now on stage. And that’s probably the best thing for developing any character. Just seeing where it goes, and then the character just becomes more and more alive. Obviously, you have to do some homework. But if you’re really tense, there’s no element of surprise. And you need that.”

The one thing that has really supported her on her career journey is her spirituality. She says her spirituality and ego don’t conflict. “Even if I am in my ego, and I am knocked back down, I believe that God is speaking to me as well. I know that for some people there’s conflict between their ego and their spirituality but for me, God is always on my side. I call it God. But there’s so many different names. And in this, I have the freedom to live my life. It’s always only ever helped me in my career.”

Melody enjoys a close relationship with her mum. “The one person who’s never not supported me is my mum. She’s probably been the most influential, and given me the best tool to deal with the industry, and even life in general.”

She’s done it all – theatre, girl group, indie EP, reality shows (she was on Dancing on Ice and won the Australian edition of Masked Singer) – what’s next, then?

Definitely a house. And a car. Following the previous Bodyguard tour, she got rid of both. “I just wasn’t spending enough time in the United States, so I adopted this nomad lifestyle. Now I am tired of this for sure. I think when I go back to Los Angeles, I’ll buy a house again. Every time I’m looking at new pretty home décor, I think to myself ‘oh, but I have nowhere to put it.’ And the car – but maybe an electric one. I like to think that when it comes to transport, I’ve done really well with my carbon footprint. I use ride share or public transport when I’m in London.”

As to what else she might want?, “I don’t know,” she says. “For me, life is a game in a positive way. Whatever it is that you want to create, how do you build a bridge to that? There are things in the pipeline that are being talked about, but I don’t know for sure what the future holds.

“I just try and be positive and excited about it. And usually something really fun comes along.”

The Bodyguard, New Wimbledon Theatre, 6 to 11 March and touring. (Note that Melody will perform at all evening performances only.)