Melissa O'Neil

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Melissa O'Neil
Portrait image of Melissa O'Neil from 2016
O'Neil in 2016
Background information
Born (1988-07-12) July 12, 1988 (age 35)
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • Actress
  • singer
Years active2005–present
LabelsSony Music Canada (2005–2007)

Melissa O'Neil (born July 12, 1988[1]) is a Chinese Canadian[2] actress and singer. In 2005, O'Neil won the third season of Canadian Idol. As an actress, she is known for her roles as Two / Rebecca / Portia Lin on the Syfy science fiction series Dark Matter and as Officer Lucy Chen on the police procedural drama series The Rookie.[3]

Early life[edit]

O'Neil attended Lester B. Pearson High School [4] in Alberta, Canada where she performed in musicals, played rugby and was on the basketball team.[5]


Canadian Idol[edit]

In early 2005, while in high school, O'Neil auditioned for the third season of Canadian Idol. The judges were impressed by her vocals, and she made it through to the top 100 round. On the first day, she sang the song "Concrete Angel" by Martina McBride a cappella and again impressed the judges; but, on the final day of competition, she forgot the words to her chosen song and froze. Nevertheless, the judges were still so impressed by her singing abilities that she continued to the top 32. After scoring the highest number of votes in her semi-final group, again with "Concrete Angel", O'Neil was granted a place in the final 10 of the contest.

Although she was highly praised by the judges, O'Neil suffered huge setbacks in both the Top 10 and Top 9 weeks of the finals, as she was voted in both the bottom three and bottom two, respectively. Shocked by this, the judges urged viewers to vote for contestants like Melissa, who clearly had the best vocal abilities. From then on, O'Neil never fell back into the bottom three after delivering consistently praised performances, with judge Zack Werner declaring that she was "a threat to win the whole thing". On September 7, 2005, O'Neil made it into the final two of the competition, alongside Rex Goudie, and after yet more stunning performances, judge Werner famously stated that the headlines of the next day's newspapers would be "The King [Kalan Porter] is dead, long live the Queen." During the grand finale results show on September 14, 2005, O'Neil defeated Goudie to be crowned the third Canadian Idol, as well as the first female winner, and (at 17) the youngest winner in the show's history.


Immediately after her win on Canadian Idol, O'Neil received a congratulatory phone call from the Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin. She then signed a recording contract with Sony BMG Canada and released her first single, "Alive", which hit stores on October 4, 2005 and debuted at number one on the Canadian singles chart, a position it held for four weeks. The single went on to be certified four-times platinum by the CRIA.

On November 22, 2005, O'Neil's self-titled debut album, Melissa O'Neil, was released on Sony and debuted at number sixteen on the Canadian albums chart. The second single from her album, "Let It Go," was released in late 2005 and peaked at number seven on the singles chart. On February 7, 2006, O'Neil embarked on her first solo tour in North Bay, Ontario, named the Let It Go Tour after her second single. Her support act was her Canadian Idol runner-up, Rex Goudie. The third single release from O'Neil's album was "Speechless", which peaked at number thirty-one. In March 2006, her debut album was certified gold by the CRIA for 50,000 units shipped, and her first single "Alive" was covered by Becki Ryan in the movie Flicka. On September 16, 2006 O'Neil returned to the Canadian Idol stage during the grand finale of its fourth season. Here, she was surprised with the certified-gold-presentation disc of her debut album.

In 2007, O'Neil was nominated for a Juno Award as New Artist of the Year, alongside Neverending White Lights, Tomi Swick, Patrick Watson, and Eva Avila (the latter, her Canadian Idol successor[6]);[7] however, Swick took home the award.[8]

In 2009, O'Neil became the lead vocalist for the Toronto funk band God Made Me Funky.[9][10]

As described by Glenn Sumi, of NOW Toronto, "After winning the third season of Canadian Idol... O'Neil released a best-selling disc and then promptly began doing musical theatre, with roles in Dirty Dancing, High School Musical and the acclaimed Stratford production of Jesus Christ Superstar."[11]

Musical theatre[edit]

In the Toronto, Ontario production of Dirty Dancing, O'Neil was a featured singer.[12] In the Drayton Entertainment production of High School Musical On Stage (in St. Jacobs and Penetanguishene), O'Neil played the role of Gabriella.[12] O'Neil's appearance as Martha/Maid by the Fire during the 2011 season's Jesus Christ Superstar was her Stratford Shakespeare Festival debut.[13]

O'Neil was featured as a lead in the Stage West Calgary production of "British Invasion" alongside former lead singer of The Guess Who, Terry Hatty,[14] and made an appearance in Camelot.[15] She played Éponine in a sit-down production of Les Misérables in Toronto at the Princess of Wales Theatre, which ran from September 2013 through February 2014.[16][17][18][19] She won the Dora Award for Outstanding Female Performance for that role.[20]

In March 2012, O'Neil made her Broadway debut in Jesus Christ Superstar, where she played Martha, Maid by the Fire and worked as understudy to Mary Magdalene.[21]

In 2013, O'Neil was promoted to play Éponine.[22][23]

In March 2014, O'Neil returned to Broadway in a revival of Les Misérables, where she was a member of the ensemble and worked as understudy for the roles of Éponine and Fantine.[24][25]


O'Neil has been acting since 2015. She has had recurring roles in the 2015 CBC TV drama called This Life that was set in Montreal, the Cole Hauser TV crime series Rogue, and the musical drama web series, Lost Generation, which was set in Berlin. The show was originally called Pulse and had a book and score written by Duncan Sheik.[26]

In December 2014, O'Neil was cast in the starring role of Two / Rebecca / Portia Lin, on the Syfy TV series space opera Dark Matter.[27] It was a role she played from 2015 to 2017, for three seasons of the show.

In 2018, O'Neil played the role of Suki in The CW procedural crime drama iZombie created by Rob Thomas and had another recurring role in the thriller Condor, a TV remake of Three Days of the Condor.

In October 2018, O'Neil was cast in the role of Officer Lucy Chen in the ABC television police drama series The Rookie, where she plays a fellow rookie police officer opposite Nathan Fillion.[28][29]

Personal life[edit]

O'Neil's maternal grandfather gave her a Chinese name which means "ladylike".[11][30] At the time when she was competing in Canadian Idol, O'Neil was said to be able to speak Cantonese, but not fluently.[30]


The following is a discography of albums and singles released by Canadian pop music artist Melissa O'Neil, as of 2006.[needs update]


Year Album details Peak Certifications
(sales threshold)
2005 Melissa O'Neil
  • Released: November 22, 2005
  • Label: Sony
  • Format: CD


Year Song Canada Certification Album
2005 "Alive" 1 4xPlatinum (CRIA) Melissa O'Neil
"Let It Go" 7
2006 "Speechless" 31

Featured on[edit]


Television and film roles
Year Title Role Notes
2010 Broken Hearts Brandi Film
2015–2017 Dark Matter Two / Portia Lin Main role
2015 This Life Sarah Recurring role (season 1), 7 episodes
2016 Rogue Jen Recurring role (seasons 3–4), 8 episodes
2016 Second Jen Naomi Episode: "Jenny Has the Gay"
2017 Ransom Drita Jakupi Episode: "The Artist"
2017 Lost Generation Tasha Web series; recurring role, 5 episodes
2018 iZombie Suki Recurring role (season 4), 5 episodes
2018 A Simple Favor Beth T.A. Film
2018 Condor Janice Recurring role (season 1), 5 episodes
2018–present The Rookie Officer Lucy Chen Main role
2022 The Rookie: Feds Officer Lucy Chen Episodes: "Face Off", "The Reaper"

Video Game roles

Year Title Role Notes
2016 Tom Clancy's The Division[33] Faye Lau Main Role
2019-2020 Tom Clancy's The Division 2[34] Faye Lau Recurring role

(Warlords of New York DLC, Season 4: End of Watch)


  • 2007–2009: Dirty Dancing[9]
  • High School Musical at the Drayton Theatre Festival[10]
  • Country Legends at the Drayton Theatre Festival[10]
  • 2010: British Invasion at Stage West (Calgary)[10]
  • 2010: Beauty and the Beast: The Savagely Silly Family Musical as Bella at Elgin Theatre (Calgary)[15]
  • 2011: Stratford Shakespeare Festival: Jesus Christ Superstar & Camelot
  • 2012: Jesus Christ Superstar as Martha, Maid by the Fire and Mary Magdalene (understudy) at the Neil Simon Theatre (New York)[35]
  • 2013-14: Les Misérables: Princess of Wales Theatre
  • 2014–2016: Les Misérables Ensemble and Fantine and Eponine (understudy) at the Imperial Theatre (New York)[36]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • 2007: Juno Award, New Artist of the Year (nominee)[37]
  • 2014: Dora Award for Outstanding Female Performance for role of Éponine in Les Misérables[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Melissa O'Neil". Playbill.
  2. ^ ABC Celebrates #AANHPIHeritageMonth with The Rookie's Melissa O'Neil, retrieved 2023-11-18
  3. ^ Hank, Melissa (15 October 2018). "The Rookie star Melissa O'Neil reflects on Canadian Idol".
  4. ^ "Idol chit-chat" by Chris Simon, The Barrie Examiner (9 Dec, 2005). Retrieved from ProQuest 352705409
  5. ^ Volmers, Eric (29 June 2015). "Calgary actress Melissa O'Neil charts new path with sci-fi series". Calgary Herald.
  6. ^ "Quebec teen Eva Avila crowned new Canadian Idol". Retrieved 2021-01-13.
  7. ^ "Junos—Nominees & Winners 2007—New Artist of the Year—View all Nominees". JunoAwards.CA. February 8, 2018. Retrieved November 8, 2019. See also this PDF version of the same content.
  8. ^ "News Archive: Furtado Wins Big at Junos". November 8, 2019. Retrieved November 8, 2019. See also the PDF version of Juno Awards web source, which highlights the winner's name.
  9. ^ a b "God Made Me Funky on ET Canada!". ET Canada. 12 September 2009. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21.
  10. ^ a b c d Clevett, Jason (January 2010). "God Made Melissa Funky: A Chat with Melissa O'Neil". GayCalgary Magazine. p. 9.
  11. ^ a b Sumi, Glenn (3 October 2013). "Interview: Melissa O'Neil—Actor, Les Misérables". NOW Toronto.
  12. ^ a b "O'Neil embraces chances to play well-known character" by Nicole Million, The Midland - Penetanguishene Mirror (27 May, 2009). Retrieved from ProQuest 362903706
  13. ^ "God made them funky and musical stars" by Brian Kelly, The Sault Star (27 March, 2015). Retrieved from ProQuest 2221655420
  14. ^ "Standout singers capture essence of British Invasion; Retrospective highlights U.K. imports over 40 years" by Dan St Yves, The Calgary Herald (28 Nov, 2009). Retrieved from ProQuest 243936984
  15. ^ a b Zekas, Rita (17 December 2010). "Bella rocks a yellow silk chiffon cocktail dress". Toronto Star.
  16. ^ Ferri, Josh (February 13, 2013). "It's Official! Ramin Karimloo, Melissa O'Neil & More Will Head to the Barricades in Toronto's Les Miserables". Retrieved November 8, 2019.
  17. ^ Jones, Kenneth (February 13, 2013). "Toronto's New Les Miz Will Star Ramin Karimloo, Genevieve Leclerc, Samantha Hill, Lisa Horner, Cliff Saunders". Archived from the original on 2013-02-16. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
  18. ^ Cameron, Kelly (February 13, 2013). "Les Miserables, Once, Aladdin & More Set for Mirvish's 50th Season". Retrieved November 8, 2019.
  19. ^ Gioia, Michael (February 2, 2014). "Toronto Production of Les Misérables, Starring Ramin Karimloo, Ends Feb. 2". Archived from the original on February 19, 2014. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
  20. ^ a b Henry, Alan (24 June 2014). "Dora Awards 2014: A List Of All The Winners!". BroadwayWorld.
  21. ^ "Inside Playbill Gallery: Jesus Christ Supersar, Who's Who in the Cast". Playbill. 22 March 2012.
  22. ^ Staff (July 14, 2015). "Les Misérables Cast & Creatives: Melissa O'Neil". Archived from the original on July 14, 2015. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
  23. ^ Ahearn, Victoria (26 September 2013). "Les Miserables role a 'dream come true' for Melissa O'Neil". Toronto Star.
  24. ^ Gioia, Michael (2 December 2013). "Casting Now Complete for 2014 Broadway Revival of Les Misérables". Playbill. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013.
  25. ^ "Inside Playbill Gallery: Les Misérables, Who's Who in the Cast". Playbill. 23 March 2014.
  26. ^ Jarvey, Natalie (2 June 2016). "Katie Findlay to Star in Go90 Musical Series 'Pulse'". The Hollywood Reporter.
  27. ^ Vlessing, Etan (18 December 2014). "Melissa O'Neil, Marc Bendavid Board Syfy's 'Dark Matter'". The Hollywood Reporter.
  28. ^ Andreeva, Nellie; Petski, Denise (8 February 2018). "'The Rookie': Melissa O'Neil To Co-Star In Nathan Fillion's ABC Light Drama Series". Deadline Hollywood.
  29. ^ Volmers, Eric (12 October 2018). "Green in Blue: Calgary's Melissa O'Neil hits the mean streets of L.A. as newbie cop in The Rookie". Calgary Herald.
  30. ^ a b Staff (September 23, 2005). "加国新偶像有中国血统 [The New Idol of Canada Has Chinese Descent]". (in Chinese). Retrieved November 8, 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  31. ^ "Perspective from an Idol's pedestal; Melissa O'Neil's star is rising thanks to a popular little talent show" by Andrea McAuliffe, The Telegraph-Journal (23 Feb, 2006). Retrieved from ProQuest 423247207
  32. ^ "What's up with the Idols?" by Sandra Sperounes, The Ottawa Citizen (24 Dec, 2005) [Final Edition]. Retrieved from ProQuest 240906515
  33. ^ (2016, March 8). The division. IMDb.
  34. ^ "Tom Clancy", Wikipedia, 2023-07-27, retrieved 2023-07-30
  35. ^ "Jesus Christ Superstar". Internet Broadway Database. 2012.
  36. ^ "Les Misérables". Internet Broadway Database. 2014.
  37. ^ "Nominee O'Neil feels 'undeserving'" by Sean Myers, with files from Jeanette Stewart, The Calgary Herald (1 April, 2007) [Final Edition]. Retrieved from ProQuest 245501039

Further reading and viewing[edit]

External links[edit]