Getting to Know Melanie Salazar Case
Photo: David Noles
Out lesbian actors are a rare commodity. So, when a queer up-and-comer like Melanie Salazar Case hits the scene Curve takes notice. A multitalented artist, Case’s titles include actor, writer, director and new energy coach. And her credits are nothing to sniff at; she is a current member of the popular San Francisco improv group, Killing My Lobster, and wrote, directed and starred in the LGBT themed short, Orifice Visit, in which one woman has a hilariously nightmarish and eye-opening experience with a (male) gynecologist named Leslie. Case is currently starring alongside Adam Goldstein as his lesbian rival Natalie in the SXSW dark comedy hit, The Snake, which guest stars Margaret Cho.
How did you land the role of Natalie in The Snake?
I actually heard about the part from a friend who was in an acting class and she was like, “I think there’s a part in this movie for you.” I set up an audition with them and they actually knew somebody I had worked with from Killing My Lobster. So I think they sort of felt like, “It’s one degree of separation, lets see what this girl has to offer.”
Did you get to use any of your improv skills in the film?
There’s a couple of scenes where it’s just me and Adam [Goldstein] driving around in this car, we’d be driving around for like 45 minutes trying to get the right backgrounds. We didn’t have enough scripted material to get us there so we were just kind of improvising.
To me the hardest part of improv would be getting over self-consciousness, but you really seem to go for it and be silly, how do you do it?
I’ve tended to be like a pretty uninhibited person my whole life… I think probably I got some feedback as a young adult when I was doing comedy in junior high and high school and people would give me positive validation from making [them] laugh. And a lot of times the more extreme it was, the funnier it became.
Where did you get the idea for Orifice Visit? Not from personal experience I hope.
Originally it was a sketch from a Killing My Lobster show… I had been given, by this kind of hippy dippy friend of mine … this natural guide to taking care of your fertility, and there were these disgusting pictures of cervices with cervical fluid literally oozing out. And I was like “OK, I don’t know what I’m going to do with this but I’ve got to do something.”
Why did you decide to give it a queer twist ending?
When I made [it] I wasn’t necessarily setting out to make a LGBT film, but it just so happens that the character’s arc, I felt, would be best suited if she ended up being a lesbian. Because, the doctor essentially diagnoses her and it ends up being right... It’s a little bit self referential too because I’m queer and have had male partners but I’m currently with a woman and that’s my preference so—it’s kind of like a coming out film in some ways.
Many performers chose not to come out – why have you?
I did make a conscious decision… I just thought, you know no matter what happens…[I] never wanted to be dishonest about who I was. I also feel like when you have somebody that you really love and care about in your life, to not be able to include them in your path because you can’t bring them to an award or an event because you’re not out … then it just ends up being kind of less fun… I have found it to be really liberating and people tend to respond to that because—just my sexuality in general—it becomes a non issue because it’s a non issue for me.
What actor are you most inspired by?
Jane Lynch, because I think of myself as kind of, a younger version of her. I would love to collaborate with her in some way.