Photo by Nick Stone.

Photo by Nick Stone.

Meet Mel

Originally from Hau‘ula, Hawai‘i, Melissa Leilani Larson is a writer presently based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Produced plays include: The Edible Complex (Plan-B Theatre commission), Pilot ProgramPride and Prejudice (Brigham Young University commission), Little Happy SecretsPersuasionMartyrs’ CrossingA FlickeringThe Weaver of RaveloeLady in Waiting, and the upcoming Mountain Law. Films include Freetown (winner of the Ghana Movie Award for Best Screenplay and the Utah Film Award for Best Picture) and Jane and Emma (in pre-production).

Mel is the only woman to receive more than one Association for Mormon Letters Drama award, and is the youngest person to win a total of three (the only other playwrights to win three are Eric Samuelsen and Tim Slover). Other honors include: the IRAM Best New Play award; a Salt Lake City Weekly Arty Award; the Mayhew Playwriting Award; winning the Lewis National Playwriting Contest for Women; placing as a Trustus Playwrights Festival finalist; and being named an O’Neill National Playwrights Conference semi-finalist.

Mel is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild, serving as the Utah Ambassador. She is also a member of The Lab, Plan-B Theatre’s incubator for new plays. She holds a BA in English from BYU and an MFA from the Iowa Playwrights Workshop. Mel enjoys melty cheese, hedgehogs, puzzles, nice paper, and nicer pens.

Recent Happenings

Mel's first book, Third Wheel, debuted on July 24th. She subsequently spoke on a panel with two other prominent LDS women authors, Mette Harrison and Rachel Hunt Steenblik at a packed launch event July 25th. Third Wheel is now available on

Utah Valley University has commissioned Mel to write a new Theatre for Young Audiences play for their 2018-19 season.

Mel was one of 12 Utah-based playwrights whose short plays comprise the evening (In)divisible, premiering June 8-18 at Plan-B Theatre. 

Mel scripted a commercial for a new campaign aimed at helping people better understand the Better Business Bureau and its mission. The final product looks pretty great:

Little Happy Secrets and Pilot Program will be published together as Third Wheel: Peculiar Stories of Mormon Women in Love. The book is due out in ebook and paperback from BCC Press in July 2017, and will feature a foreword by Eric Samuelsen.

Mel was invited to be the featured writer for the 2017 spring quarter at the LDS women’s journal Segullah. Read her interview, and check out excerpts from Little Happy Secrets , Pilot Program, and Sweetheart Come.