Hamilton native’s first film part? A starring role opposite Nick Cannon

Melody Kandil appears in ‘She Ball,’ a movie about a basketball player on hard times

Credit: Submitted photo

Credit: Submitted photo

Hamilton native Melody Kandil, who first found local fame with her basketball skills, still knows how to make big shots from long distance. Three-pointers were her specialty.

In her first-ever film role, Kandil landed the movie’s lead female role, as Shelby, a basketball player on hard times. Kandil, 33, plays opposite Nick Cannon, who also directed and produced the film.

For the uninitiated, among Cannon’s many credits, he starred in the film Drumline and on six episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He also was married to Mariah Carey.

Kandil, who was a basketball shooting guard at Hamilton High School with the Class of 2007, said this was a huge bucket list item for her.

“This is a movie I said I wanted to do since I was a little girl. I said I wanted to do the next Love & Basketball,” which was released in 2000, and tells the story of a girl with amazing basketball skills.

“And I feel like God just put it on the table for me,” she said. “Love & Basketball was always my favorite movie, and this is kind of like Love & Basketball, so it’s pretty close.”

“I always said that since I was a little girl, and this ended up being my first movie, so I guess I manifested it.”

Her landing the part was especially impressive because although she took acting classes a decade ago in New York, she hadn’t acted in public since Adams Elementary.

A trailer for “She Ball” can be viewed at https://tinyurl.com/ct8crj3j. The film was an official selection of the 2020 Pan African Film Festival.

She’s Got Game

At Adams Elementary, she played Holly in The X-Mas Files. She didn’t act in high school because basketball took all her time. But those basketball skills won her a full Division 1 scholarship to the University of Tennessee at Martin.

Kandil, who is 6′0″, played for the UT Martin Skyhawks one year before leaving to become a fashion model, a career that took her overseas. She’s lived in Paris, London, Thailand, Africa, Germany, New York, Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Kandil later returned to college, paying her way through California Coast University, an online school, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in business marketing. In 13 years of modeling, she has never had to work a side job.

She lives in Hermosa Beach, and can see the Pacific Ocean from her street, and has lived in LA most of the past 12 years.

“I really didn’t like it at first, I didn’t think I’d live here,” she said. “But of course, the weather sucks you in, and then I’ve made some amazing female friends here that it’s hard to leave, for that alone.”

Working with Nick Cannon

It was a pleasure working with Cannon, she said.

“We had a great friendship from the start, and he helped me through a lot of the processes, of understanding through the film in general,” she said. “It was very comfortable for me. I felt like I had known him forever, along with a lot of the other people on set, and it felt like I had been acting and in movies my entire life.”

“So I didn’t feel any uneasiness,” she said. Except for one scene involving basketball skills.

“Basketball was actually the most uncomfortable I felt in the film, in one scene,” she said. “It took me like 10 tries, and the crowd have to clap at a certain time, do a certain thing, and people are walking down the court at different times. Everything has to happen at a certain timing, and I had to hit the shot.”

“I was like, ‘Lord, please, I have to hit this shot.’”

That prayer was well-timed, because the cameraman told her afterward, “We had literally 30 seconds left on the battery. Thank God you made that.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, thank God I did.”

Filming started in 2017. Some parts were reshot in 2018. She Ball was supposed to be released in 2020, “and then everything got pushed back with the pandemic, and so it just came out Aug. 6,” she said.

Because of COVID-19, it was in theaters only briefly, but it’s on Redbox, Apple TV and Amazon Prime and other online sites.

Kandil hadn’t acted professionally before, partly because, “I was like, ‘I don’t know, this industry is insane, and it’s about who you know, and you have to be out in the mix and the scene, and I’m not a very scene-y person. I’m so Midwest and like to be at home.”

“When this came on my lap, I was like, ‘You know what, Melody? It’s for a reason, and God led you here, so go try out for it.’”

When she was on set, “I was like, ‘Wow, this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.’ Now that it’s out, it gives me some leverage, so people can see that I can actually do it, and I’m not actually just a model.”

She’s looking forward to seeing what’s next.

Her Hamilton Roots

People during filming were impressed to see Kandil making friends with everybody, including crew members and people living in the impoverished part of LA where She Girl was filmed. She believes that openness to all people dates to her days playing basketball locally and regionally, which put her in touch with many people of various backgrounds.

Kandil does hot yoga five or six times a week to stay in shape, and has two partners in a company called Total Body Band, a resistance stretching that can be used to do more than 100 exercises, which now is in some higher-end stores. “I’m trying to get it into Nordstrom right now,” she said.

She also writes a blog called Moments With Melody, at momentswithmelody.com.

And just as she did as a girl, she still performs for her family, “which is funny,” she said, “but it obviously got me where I am today. I think I just put in the work on the back end my whole life, and it finally came to fruition.”

Kandil’s parents are mom Kodie Montana, who is a singer, and DJs at private parties, weddings and at local bars, Overtime Bar & Grill in Ross and the Dry Dock. Her father, Ray Kandil, who was her longtime basketball coach, lives in Mason. She also has a sister, Kari Kaiser of Mason; and two brothers, Nicholas Foret of Hamilton; and TJ Dehner, who attends Ross High School.

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