Melora Hardin

Melora Hardin

Melora Hardin acted for 30 years before her recurring role as Jan on NBC's cult hit, "The Office" (2004-13) finally cemented her name and face for posterity. The songbird and classically trained dancer carved out an impressive career for herself as a working character actress on dozens of shows throughout the 1980s, 1990s and into the next millennium before regular appearances on "Monk" (USA, 2002-09) and "The Office" brought this charismatic talent into the spotlight -a position she used to help launch a new career behind the camera.Hardin was born in Houston, TX and raised in Los Angeles, CA. Her father, Jerry Hardin, was a prolific character actor who appeared in over 100 films and TV shows; her mother, Diane Hardin, was the acting coach behind young stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Hilary Swank, Kellie Martin, and River Ph nix. Young Melora didn't need any encouragement to go into show business, however, as she seemed born to entertain. Inspired by Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand, Hardin was singing and writing songs from the start, even before she began taking ballet lessons at the age of five. She begged her parents to let her audition for acting roles, and when she was eight, scored a toothpaste ad on her very first outing. Her first television role, in a Little Rascals-inspired show called "Cliffwood Avenue Kids" (NBC, 1977) came at the age of 10, followed by a string of appearances on seventies guest star staples like "The Love Boat" (ABC 1977-1986) and "Diff'rent Strokes"(NBC, 1978-1985). At age 13, Hardin spent a summer studying with the Joffrey Ballet Company in New York, and throughout her teens kept up a busy schedule that included rigorous dance training - as well as landing the occasional recurring TV roles on "Little House on the Prairie" (NBC, 1974-1983) and big screen gigs with "Papa Was a Preacher" (1985) and "Soul Man" (1986). In a role that might have made her a break-out star sooner, Hardin was set to play McFly's love interest in "Back to the Future" (1985), but was recast when a diminutive Michael J. Fox, who was shorter than Hardin, was given the lead. Nonplussed by that setback, the devoted dancer got her first major headlining moment in 1988, playing Baby in the short-lived TV adaptation of "Dirty Dancing" (CBS, 1988-89). Hardin took some time off to return to the East Coast, studying at Sarah Lawrence College, before heading to Europe for months of solitary world travel that would be sure to inform her future as a well-rounded actress. In 1991, the avid song-and-dance gal landed the dream role of a vintage-era nightclub singer in "The Rocketeer," contributing several songs to the film's soundtrack. Throughout the nineties, she maintained an impressive schedule as a working actress - steady appearances on shows like "Quantum Leap" (NBC, 1989-1993) and "Caroline in the City" (NBC, 1995-99) and several juicy, memorable character moments like getting Ross to talk dirty on "Friends" (NBC, 1994-2004). With her intelligence and easy sophistication starting to play more of a factor in what was offered to her, Hardin seemed to evolve into different types of roles when she hit her thirties. In 2000, she began appearing on the gritty USA drama, "Cover Me: Based on the True Life of an FBI Family" (USA, 2000-01). Several other smart, adult women characters followed on "Boston Legal" (ABC, 2004-08) and "Judging Amy" (CBS, 1999-2005). In 2004, she began to be seen on the critical fave comedy "Monk," playing wife to the obsessive compulsive investigator (Tony Shalhoub) before she was called to return to the set of a pilot she had filmed earlier called "The Office."In 2006, Hardin joined the cast of the highly-touted comedy based on the famed British series of the same name. For the first time, audiences were able to appreciate the depth of her versatility on a weekly basis. Her portrayal of no-nonsense boss and occasional sex object, Jan Levinson, was a hit with viewers - many who debated on fan message boards whether she and her subordinate manager, Michael Scott (Steve Carell) should "hook up." In fact that coupling became so beloved, they gave "Office" sweethearts Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) a run for their money as favorite "Office" twosome. They could surely have won for most dysfunctional. Being part of an award-winning cast opened new doors for Hardin, who appeared in the Golden Globe winning film "Thank You for Smoking" (2006) and made her film directorial debut with "You" (2009). In addition to impressive work on film and TV, Hardin released two CDs of original, theatrical-tinged vocal stylings - Meloradrama and Purr. She also performed at the Globe Theater in San Diego. In 2007, she directed the play "Strip Search," which enjoyed successful runs at the White Fire Theater and the Acme Comedy Theater, both in Los Angeles. Hardin co-starred in the romantic comedy "27 Dresses" (2008) and a pair of teen films, the Zac Efron comedy "17 Again" (2009) and Miley Cyrus' "Hannah Montana: The Movie" (2009), before appearing in wrestling comedy "Knucklehead" (2010) and thriller "I Melt With You" (2011). Following the end of "The Office," Hardin starred in cable comedy-drama "Wedding Band" (TBS 2012-13) and began a recurring role in dysfunctional-family comedy-drama "Transparent" (Amazon 2014-). After co-starring in Tarsem Singh's science-fiction drama "Self/less" (2015), Hardin joined the cast of magazine-set comedy-drama "The Bold Type" (Freeform 2017-).


Guest Appearances