Why Melody Prescott From Yellowstone Looks So Familiar

It may be hard to recall in the wake of "Yellowstone" Season 4's rather chaotic plot re-focus, but there was a time when Taylor Sheridan's copycat-birthing contemporary western revolved around the Dutton family's attempts to cling to their ranch and land. Among the various competitors endeavoring to steal the land from the family (whose ancestors stole the land "first," dang it) was Evil Californian Real Estate Developer Dan Jenkins (Danny Huston). Before the Machiavellian Duttons managed to scare him away for good, and before he was killed by a rival capitalist's henchmen, Jenkins sought the assistance of his highly qualified and cutthroat assistant in three Season 1 episodes. 

When Jenkins explains that he's not having much luck going head-to-head with John Dutton (Kevin Costner), his go-to consultant suggests a number of strategies to take him down, but the naive Paradise Valley billionaire ignores her advice. Instead, he's wooed by Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham), whom he doesn't realize is cleverly using Jenkins to achieve his own means. In her final appearance, the savvy suit attempts to have John brought up on felony charges by the EPA for re-directing the course of a river, but, as usual, the Dutton patriarch avoids the consequences of his actions. 

She may only appear in three episodes, but if would-be Dutton slayer Melody Prescott looks familiar to you, there's a few reasons for that. She happens to be portrayed by actor and producer Heather Hemmens, who kicked-off her career in the early 2000s.

Hemmens landed on her feet as a cheerleader in Hellcats

After landing brief but resume-building appearances in 2005's "The Dukes of Hazzard" reboot and 2006's ESPY-nominated "Glory Road," Hemmens nabbed bit parts in a handful of primetime procedurals, including CBS' "CSI: NY," "CSI: Miami," and "Without a Trace." The actor then added a few small projects to her list before being cast in her breakthrough role in the CW's short-lived college cheerleader dramedy, "Hellcats." 

In the series, the martial arts-trained Hemmens stars as Alice Verdura, the obligatory Cheerleader-in-Charge who injures herself before the start of the season and fears she'll be replaced by reluctant newcomer Marti Perkins (Aly Michalka). Perkins, the obligatory Smart-and-Sarcastic-Cheerleader, is forced to join the squad when her pre-law scholarship falls through, and if all this sounds ever-so-vaguely familiar to you, it's because it ever-so-vaguely resembles a combination of the various cheerleader dynamics in "Bring it On" (hey, if it ain't broke, right?). 

The series didn't impress audiences all that much, but critics sympathetic to its genre-awareness were more forgiving (via Rotten Tomatoes), and it earned Hemmens a 2010 interview and spotlight in Seventeen magazine. Describing her character, Hemmens said, "She is a warrior for what she believes in, and I think we have that in common. However, the way she goes about getting what she wants is what separates us. I would never engage in some of the manipulative and mean behavior that she finds such pleasure in."

Hemmens dabbled in horror in 2012 and 2013

Following what would ultimately be her first stint on the CW, Hemmens tackled a different genre entirely — one every bit as scary as mean girl cheerleaders. 

In Nick Lyon's direct-to-video "Rise of the Zombies," Hemmens stars alongside Danny Trejo and LeVar Burton in a film that adds nothing new to the age-old "small group of survivors struggle through the zombie apocalypse" narrative, but doesn't pretend to either. Of the film's various performances, Horror News' Lea Lawrynowicz writes, "the cast can't really be entirely faulted for not mustering a ton of thespian enthusiasm for this film," explaining that, "the dialogue is flat footed and silly, and the story itself is pretty predictable." That all tracks, considering the film's budget, intent, and limited release and audience, but it doesn't appear to have turned Hemmens off from horror. 

A year later, in 2013, Hemmens stepped into the role of a party girl high-schooler named Kimberly in C.B. Harding's "Complicity." As the film's IMDb summary and trailer suggest (via YouTube), it's a kind of a rebooting of the "I Know What You Did Last Summer" story, wherein a group of teens gets in over their heads with a bit of murder, and become increasingly paranoid that someone in their group will inevitably rat them all out. While neither of the small films saw Hemmens land on the big screen, her next big break would come from television anyway. 

Hemmens' TV experience led to a lead in Tyler Perry's If Loving You is Wrong

In 2013 and 2014, Hemmens appeared briefly in "Grey's Anatomy" and "The Vampire Diaries," with a more prominent role in the latter. In the fang-filled soap opera on the CW, the actor pops up via flashback in Season 5's "Man on Fire." Her character Maggie, we learn, fell in love with Enzo St. John (Michael Malarkey) while working as a psychiatrist researching vampire behavior in the mid-century. Enzo later discovers that she was killed by Ian Somerhalder's Damon Salvatore, and is forced to give up the search for his long-lost love. 

Both of these roles were relatively small, but the prominence and popularity of the two series may well have made it possible for Hemmens to make the leap from bit part to series regular on another network. From 2014 to 2019, Hemmens portrayed Marcie Holmes, one of the main protagonists in Tyler Perry's "If Loving You Is Wrong" on the Oprah Winfrey Network. The series lasted a respectable five seasons, and in it, Hemmen's character Marcie is unhappily married to Randal (Eltony Williams) who cheats on his wife with her best friend, and whose comeuppance reaches new heights in the murderous series finale (via TV Line).

Though Hemmens would return to the CW in 2019 for "Roswell, New Mexico," her most prominent television role following "Hellcats" and preceding "Yellowstone" was undoubtedly that of Marcie Holmes, whom she played for nearly 90 episodes.