Melissa Peregrym: Actor, Model, Humanitarian

Date

Summer 2024

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Melissa “Missy” Peregrym is a Canadian actress and former model from Montreal. Most well-known for her roles as Andy McNally on TV series Rookie Blue, and Maggie Bell in the CBS series FBI, Peregrym has cemented herself in the world of procedurals and no-nonsense characters. 

Career Beginnings 

Despite growing up in a household where her parents did not want her to watch TV, and thus didn’t have cable, Missy Peregrym found herself in entertainment fairly young. She got her start as a model when she was 18 years old, appearing in commercials for Mercedes-Benz and the Olympic Games. During this time, she was still trying to decide whether to go to college to be a teacher or for business. Finding that she couldn’t keep taking time off work for auditions, she gave herself a three-month window to “make it” in the acting world. Of course, this would be harder than she’d originally thought, but her hard work paid off, and after landing some minor roles, her first big role was in Stick It as the lead character Haley Graham.

A self-professed “tomboy” this part originally attracted Peregrym because it was one of the few roles that had nothing to do with being in a relationship, allowing her to explore the inner workings of the character without relying on her being sexy in order to draw in the audience. 

This role was huge for Peregrym as it was her first time acting in a major role, director Jessica Bendinger fought for Peregrym to act as the lead, despite her limited acting experience. It also gave her the opportunity to work with actor Jeff Bridges whom she was terrified to work with at first, as she was worried she would be the reason to tank his career, should the movie perform badly. However, the experience turned out to be a very positive one, and she has said she learned a lot from him, and he offered her some of the best acting advice she’s received throughout her career. 

Mainstream Success 

Peregrym’s major breakthrough role was in the television series “Rookie Blue”, as rookie cop Andy McNally. The show aired for six seasons from 2010 to 2015 and followed five rookie police officers as they experienced the ins-and-outs of working in law enforcement for the first time while also dealing with their personal lives. 

This role was hugely taxing for her, and while she loved, and still loves the character she played, and the show overall, she says she found it very hard to get out of the police officer mindset at the end of the day. She says it was intense, both emotionally and physically, and after finishing filming the show, she had to take a break, swearing she would never film another procedural again. 

That changed however, when she was offered her current role of Maggie Bell in Dick Wolf’s procedural FBI. The show which first aired in 2018, follows the FBI’s criminal division in their New York City field office. Peregrym plays the lead, Special Agent Maggie Bell, who is in charge of the team while they are out in the field. 

This character, more mature than her character on Rookie Blue, almost picks up in her training where she left off. More secure in her role as an officer and seasoned in her experiences than Andy McNally, Maggie allows Peregrym to explore a different side of law enforcement. 

The show also more closely follows the crime and technical aspects of FBI work, and less-so the inner lives of the officers, allowing her to have an easier time filming. Balancing the real-world stories that the show pulls from, while trying to offer reassurance that the right people are keeping everyone safe, the FBI tries to offer hope by the end of each episode, and as Peregrym puts it to, “give Americans something to really believe in.” (variety) 

Charity Work

Of course, when you have such a large platform, it is also important to use it to help others. Despite being under spoken in her efforts, Missy Peregrym has also worked towards giving back to her community in meaningful ways. In 2006, she partnered with TOMS shoes, a company which donates shoes to communities in need in South America. She has stated that due to her time in Argentina, she understands the impact that these gestures can have on entire communities.

In addition, in 2015, she teamed up with some of her other Rookie Blue co-stars to help in UNICEF Canada and Canada Soccer’s #HighFiveIt campaign, which called upon people to post photos of themselves high-fiving and donating $5 towards providing vaccines, water and food to children in need, with UNICEF partnering with organizations like water.org, who would be receiving some of the donations, and the government of Canada, who matched donations.

Lauren Schwartz | Staff Writer

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