Many will quickly point out that Melissa Hudson Bell is famous for being the wife of the popular comedian, W. Kamau Bell. While it would be ridiculous to deny this fact, it would also be unfair for one to not acknowledge that she is also a woman of her own making. An American performer, Melissa has thrived as a choreographer operating out of Berkeley, California, just as she has accomplished a lot as a teacher and scholar.
She has nurtured an astonishing career and has devoted her entire creative life, research, and teachings to inquiring dance impacts on our personal relationships and our connection to the environment around us.
Melissa Hudson Bell – Bio
This brilliant self-made woman was born in the San Francisco Bay area, although her exact date of birth is not known at this time. She grew up interested in dance, so it was only natural that she sought out a career in that field. After she completed high school, Melissa attended Santa Clara University, where she bagged a degree in theatre arts in 2001. Melissa Hudson Bell was also able to complete a Pilates Teacher Training Certification Course in 2007.
She then went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts Degree in experimental choreography at UC Riverside in 2009. Since she was interested in the arts, not just as a form but as a scholarly investigation, she decided to further her education. From UC Riverside, she obtained her Doctor of Philosophy degree in Critical Dance Studies in the year 2013.
Melissa’s professional career has been incredibly hectic so far. She has donned many hats and worked in various capacities over the years that her resume runs into several pages. She has been teaching Pilates at Core Pilates since early 2010. She has also been working as a lecturer since 2007; she currently serves as Writing for Performance Lecturer at UC Berkeley, and as an Adjunct Lecturer for Modern Dance at Santa Clara University.
In addition to the foregoing, she is a popular face at the BreadnButter Dance Company where she works as a choreographer. This has seen her perform at several events including Bodies Between, Canvas Underground, Dance Lovers, CounterPULSE, DecaDance, Bold Moves, Anatomy Riot #32, and Makeup Mutiny #2. Following her views on dance which holds an interest in dance as an art form, a field of critical investigation, and a vehicle for social change, Melissa has devoted a lot of her time to research and other scholarly pursuits on the subject. She wrote her dissertation project on Audience Engagement in San Francisco’s Contemporary Dance Scene: Forging Connections Through Food, and she is currently working on expanding this brilliant research.
Some of her other notable projects include the Gutsy Series, a multi-subject research in collaboration with chefs and other performers that uses food as a means of framing dance presentations. Melissa has authored a variety of papers exploring the intersections of dance and food, and has also given public lectures and demonstrations on the subject.
Relationship With W. Kamau Bell
Melissa Hudson Bell is married to the comedian and director, Walter Kamau Bell. The two meet when her friend Jill starred in a one-person show directed by Walter, which she went to see. Jill told her Walter was the theatre director and described Melissa to him as a college student. However, when they finally met, Melissa Hudson Bell confessed that she had imagined he was older, and Walter explained that he thought she was a teenage college student. They hit it off and soon began dating in 2003.
Although the couple loved each other very much and their friends were cool with their relationship, their families didn’t approve of their interracial relationship, and the discord put a stain on their relationship for a while but they persevered and love won. They tied the knot in 2009, and their marriage has been blessed with two gorgeous daughters named Sami and Juno Bell.
Interesting Facts About W. Kamau Bell’s Wife
1. She Has Received Several Honours And Awards For Her Work
Melissa Hudson Bell’s brilliance and dedication to her work have earned her many accolades and immense recognition. Her most notable career honours include a Gluck Program for the Arts Fellowship, Master’s Thesis Research Grant, Dean’s Distinguished Fellowship, and a Zellerbach Family Foundation Community Arts Grant.
2. Her Creative Life Is Full of Professional Affiliations
Thanks to her stellar work and creativity, Melissa has collaborated with a number of prestigious organizations such as Dancer’s Group, Slow Food Nation, Bay Area Emerging Artist’s Network, Congress on Research in Dance, California Dance Network, Society of Dance History Scholars, and more.
3. Melissa Hudson Bell Has Strong Views on Dance
The choreographer and performer sees dance as a way of shaping and reshaping the world we live in, and often uses movement to interpret aspects of daily life like power, labor, racism, and civic action.
4. Her Marriage to Walter Kamau Bell Fuels Her Activism
As a white woman who is married to a black man, Melissa has witnessed first-hand racist acts being directed at her husband. The most notorious of these incidents occurred on January 26, 2015, while the two were dining at Elmwood Cafe, a restaurant in California. One of the waitresses knocked on the window and angrily asked Walter to leave the premises, assuming based on the colour of his skin that he was there to sell something or beg for money, and not as a paying customer. The event left her, Walter, and their friends visibly embarrassed and furious. Things like these are what inspire her to engage in social activism, and use her work to address issues or racism, amongst other things.