Article Michelle Giacomini | Photography Steven Hellon
When mom and wife, Melissa Dixon, isn’t crocheting novelty items or working tirelessly for The Alternative Arts Collective (TAAC), you can usually find her acting in a film or on a stage, such as the Geery on L Street in Sacramento.
Having worked numerous years for the California Special Districts Association (CSDA), Melissa says she feels, “I’ve only had one career, and that was always working with nonprofits.” She explains, “When I was in college, I wanted to get into office work, so I signed up with a temp agency. They placed me as a temporary part-time receptionist with the CSDA working with Executive Director Catherine Smith. That was in 1998, and I never left.” Eventually, Smith did leave the association to start her own association management company, and Melissa followed her. “I helped her open the firm. That was ten years ago and I was just made partner this January.”
One of Melissa’s passions is acting. Like her work with nonprofits, Melissa’s been an avid entertainer since her choir years in high school. As she reminisces, “My career in the arts is less ‘career’ and more ‘passion.’ I was in choir in high school and was in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which I played Titania. I loved both experiences, and when I went to college I signed up for the choir and some drama courses.”
But her days in drama were put on the backburner for many years, while she raised a family. Mother of three, Melissa and her husband, Dr. Seth Dixon, found one of their children, Samantha (from Melissa’s previous marriage), was a bit of a “wallflower.” Melissa says, “I went looking for something that would ‘get her out of her shell,’ give her the confidence she lacked. I found Civic Theatre West’s youth programs. Each child gets lines, choreography, and songs to sing.” She continues, “They’re taught to project and that it’s okay to be silly. Six weeks later, my wallflower had blossomed.”
What also blossomed, as a result, was Melissa’s reignited passion with acting. Since then, she’s also had the opportunity to be in two plays with her son, Anthony, 14. “My first musical ever was Oliver! at Rocklin Community Theatre (2012). I was in the ensemble and Anthony was in Fagin’s gang.” She adds, “In 2015, Anthony joined me in a primarily female cast of Macbeth.” Further, she recently performed in TAAC’s first independent film, Lear, (due to release this winter).
Of course, Melissa is no stranger to reignited passions and her marriage to Seth is a perfect example of this. Melissa shares, “Seth and I were really good friends in high school. We were both in honors math classes, and super smart (if I do say so myself).” She says they often competed for the top two grades in the class; however, she divulges “Instead of paying attention in class, Seth and I wrote letters to each other. Long, rambling, ‘ever so important because we’re teenagers and eminently deep’ letters.” She confided that her favorite part of Seth’s letters was that he’d sign his name with a lightning bolt for the letter “S” in his name, and she still has some of them after all these years. She and Seth celebrated nine years of marriage on July 7.
For the past several years, Melissa has been raising her family, (also including daughter, Claire), in the Sacramento region. She exclaims the thing she likes best about Sacramento is “The theatre!” She says, “Seriously, I had no idea there was this much community theatre available or, better yet, this much community-based talent. It’s extraordinary, the actors, directors, musicians, writers—Sacramento is rife with unbelievable talent.”