Actress, casting vet Melissa Martin dies

Founder Martin Casting in 1994

Melissa Martin, founder and president of Martin Casting, died Aug. 29 in a motorcycle accident in Maui. She was 53.

Born in San Diego, Martin attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Upon graduating, she moved to San Francisco to begin an acting career and studied at American Theater Company. She also interned at Industrial Light and Magic.

She acted in numerous commercials as well as feature films “Death Becomes Her,” “Dead Pool” and TV shows including “L.A. Law.”

Moving to Los Angeles, she served as a casting apprentice and traveled around the country photographing unusual faces, creating a niche for herself as a casting director.

In 1994, she set up Martin Casting out of Chelsea Studios and began casting for commercials, film and TV projects.

Martin Casting worked on hundreds of commercials, with directors including Michel Gondry, Alejandro Gonzalez-Inarritu, Paul Hunter, Andrew Douglas and Brian Grazer. 

A short film, “The Tonto Woman,” starring Francesco Quinn, was nominated for a 2008 Oscar for live action short. Martin also cast a promotional short for “The 300,” directed by Zack Snyder, which helped lead to the project’s expansion into a feature film.

With her husband Erich Zander, she launched Digital Casting Studios in 2003, and in 2006 opened a West Los Angeles facility, 310 Casting Studios, home to Martin Casting. Both Martin Casting and 310 Casting Studios will continue under Zander’s leadership. 

She is survived by her husband and a daughter.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Sept. 13 at 9:30 a.m. at First United Methodist Church of North Hollywood/The Wesley School Chapel, 4832 Tujunga Ave, North Hollywood.

For more information regarding a scholarship fund for her daughter, contact Toby Vargas at 818-995-8629 or email toby@vargasbiz.com.

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