Standup comedian, musician and actress Jackie Tohn is one of the standouts in Netflix‘s GLOW, a series about the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling league. While the league itself was real and many of the plot points that made it into creators Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch’s shows, their characters are fictional creations, including Tohn’s Melrose.
In the series, Melrose’s real name is Melanie Rosen, but she doesn’t want anyone to know that. She goes by the name “Melrose,” even among her fellow wrestlers. She also has a problem following orders, but she’s been there for her friends.
Here’s a look at Tohn’s life and career.
1. Tohn Made it to the Top 36 on ‘American Idol’ Season 8 & Competed in ‘Platinum Hit’
American Idol fans with an encyclopedic knowledge of that show might recognize Tohn, who had been a . That’s because she appeared on season eight in 2009, making it to the Top 36. In her final performance on the show, she sang Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation.” She then self-released two albums, Beguiling (2009) and 2. Yo (2010).
In a 2011 interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Tohn said she got more exposure from just making it as far as she did on Idol than in all her previous years of performing and touring.
“I got more exposure, press, love and validation in one time of being on Idol than I did in all the years I toured before being on the show,” she told THR.
Tohn was more interested in being a songwriter, so in 2011, she signed up for Platinum Hit, a short-lived Bravo reality show that singer Jewel judged. Tohn appeared in one episode and her appearance on Idol was surprisingly not mentioned.
“I don’t know why they’re not saying I was on Idol, if you Google me, it’s the first thing that comes up,” Tohn told THR. “I think they’re trying to separate themselves from Idol and The Voice as much as they can, but an executive producer explained it best by saying, ‘If anything, our show would be called ‘The Song.’ It’s not at all about the performance.”
2. Tohn’s First Acting Role Was in ‘The Nanny’ at Age 12
Tohn was 12 years old when she got a big break by starring in an episode of The Nanny. As her IMDb profile shows, she appeared in the 1994 episode “The Family Plumbing.” Two years later, she played a different role in “The Bird’s Nest.”
In 1999, Tohn finally won another role, appearing in the “Boca” episode of The Sopranos. From then on, Tohn found one-off roles in TV episodes. She appeared in House of Lies, Castle, Rules of Engagement, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and others. In 2007, she found herself in Postal, a film directed by Uwe Boll, who’s considered one of the worst directors in the world.
Her more recent movies include Jem and the Holograms, Sisters and CHiPS.
3. She Grew Up Watching Wrestling With her Brothers & Loved Over-the-Top Characters
Tohn went into GLOW with a familiarity with wrestling. She told TVInsider that she watched WWE wrestling with her brothers and loved the over-the-top characters, like Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper.
“There are still people out there who say wrestling is fake,” she told TVInsider. “Then you get in the ring and you jump off the top rope to land on your back from 10 feet you think, ‘Oh, I guess wrestling is not so fake.’… I think GLOW is going to wake many up to women in wrestling and how capable we, they all are.”
Tohn and the rest of the actresses were trained by retired wrestler Chavo Guerrero Jr.. She called him a “hero” who helped them understand the mechanics of the sport quickly. She was also happy that Kia Stevens, a real wrestler under the name Awesome Kong, is in the show. Stevens plays Tamee. She said that she and the rest of the cast didn’t even know she was a real wrestler until they Googled her name.
4. Tohn Will Play Gilda Radner in Netflix’s National Lampoon Movie
In April, Tohn landed her next big role. The Tracking Board reported that Tohn will star as comedy icon Gilda Radner in A Futile And Stupid Mine, a new Netflix movie.
The film is about the origins of National Lampoon, the humor magazine that inspired the Vacation franchise, Animal House, the Van Wilder, books and even a radio program. It stars Will Forte as Douglas Kennedy and Domhnall Gleeson as Henry Beard, the co-founders of National Lampoon. Joel McHale also stars as Chevy Chase, while Seth Green plays Christopher Guest. It’s based on Josh Karp’s book.
David Wain, the director of Wet Hot American Summer and Role Models, is directing the movie.
5. Tohn Also Performs Stand-Up Comedy
Tohn, whose parents are Allan and Bella Tohn, is also a stand-up comedian when she’s not acting. As seen in the video above, she also brings her music into her act.
In her TVInsider interview, Tohn said some of her stand-up act made it into GLOW. Melrose is similar to Tohn offscreen personality-wise, but Tohn isn’t the kind of party-goer and drug-doer that Melrose is in the show.
“Melrose is the character that I have somehow played my whole life, but I’m not actually her,” she told TVInsider. “I do stand-up, so it’s elements of an onstage persona and being brash. It’s really an elevated version of aspects of myself. So when something is close to home, you can be pretty good at doing it.”