Melissa Hawks

My name is Meli Hawks and first and foremost I am an actress. I love to sing and dance, I am always the first and last one on the dance floor. I am a proud Latina immigrant who has finally learned to accept and love who I am. I was born in Mexico City and moved to the US when I was three years old. After spending the first nine years of my life fooling everyone around me into thinking I could read, a teacher recognized the struggle behind my facade. Shortly thereafter, I was evaluated and diagnosed with dyslexia, short term auditory memory and ADD. While the diagnoses granted me access to much needed educational resources and I counted with my family’s unwavering support, being labeled as different was really hard and it took years for me to fully embrace all of me. 

Ever since I can remember, I dreamed of being an actress. So when I was twelve I begged my mom to take me to a youth talent agency audition. I will never forget the day my dream turned into a nightmare. During the self tape audition I struggled to read clearly and convinced myself that I would never be able to become an actress and abandoned this dream for a long time. 

I spent my Junior year of High School in Thailand as a Rotary Exchange student. Thriving in a foreign environment on my own and in a Thai school without special accommodations, showed me that I am a survivor and capable of anything I set my mind to. With lots of hard work, determination and dedication I was eligible to apply to Universities.  I graduated from San Jose State University in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality, Tourism and Event Management. In 2018, I woke up one day and decided to face my fears and not live life in regret without at least trying.  I  quit my job as an event coordinator for the Culinary Art Institute in Napa, CA and got accepted in the Meisner Technique Studio and began the two year intensive training as an actress under Jim Jarett. I completed my training in December 2020  and after having to put my dreams on hold again during the pandemic shutdowns I moved to Los Angeles  2022. Currently, I live in West Hollywood with my emotional support dog and work as a server. Next I hope to find a supportive and disability accommodating agent and agency to represent me as I continue pursuing an acting career which frankly has not been easy. I hope to build more of an artistic learning disability community, make it a little easier for those who seek to follow this path and hope to be an inspiration. 

I am honored and excited to be a part of NCLD’s Young Adult Leadership Council. By being vulnerable and sharing my story I hope to encourage others to not be limited by diagnoses and to chase their dreams as life is already too short.  I also hope to elevate the importance of integrating mental health services into disability education and accommodations. I want to do so much more and look forward to spreading awareness and helping those like myself learn to turn your disabilities into your superpowers!

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