Photo of Melvin Campbell

Meet Our Neighbors: Melvin Campbell

Puppeteer, writer, and composer on Donkey Hodie!

Tell us about yourself and how your career led you to work in children’s television. 

I am a 26-year-old creative from a small college town called Bloomington, IL where I still currently live with my wife, Keyarra, and our two kids: Mel (the third) and Meledy. Growing up, I was a very "head in the clouds" kind of kid. I enjoyed drawing a lot because it was a way of getting the various worlds and characters I imagined out of my head. In grade school, I would draw comic books and would even have copies printed so I could sell them around school, church, etc. 

When I was ten years old, I got my hands on a Best of The Muppet Show DVD which sparked my love of puppetry. I think what attracted me was how "real" those characters became to me. It introduced me to an art form that would allow me to bring my own characters to life in a way that they just failed to do on the page. Very shortly after that, I started building my own puppets and practicing puppetry techniques by mimicking the performances I saw on TV. As a kid, I also started the puppet ministry at my church where I would train others in puppetry, write the scripts, create the music, and more. I treated the experience as if I was making a TV show. 

As the years went by, I also networked with other kids that were aspiring puppeteers through social media, and it was actually through these connections that I was put on Spiffy Pictures' radar just as Donkey Hodie was about to go into production. So Donkey is very dear to my heart, in that it's actually the beginning of my career. 

Describe your role(s) on Donkey Hodie. 

On Donkey Hodie, I play Cousin Hodie and Rogers The Fish, as well as a variety of "one-off" and background characters. I am also a writer on the show and a music composer. Performing alone is a dream come true, so I am beyond grateful that I get to dip my hand in other aspects of the show as well. 

Do you have a favorite episode of Donkey Hodie? 

It's hard to pick just one, but an episode I always enjoy is "Hidden Orchestra." The combination of playing hide-’n’-seek while playing music is very "silly," which makes it very Someplace Else. I love the song in that show, "One Step at a Time," and I love that I got to play all the mice musicians in that show. Lots of fun memories there! 

What was your favorite TV show when you were growing up? 

Once I was bitten by the puppetry bug, shows like The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, and Jack's Big Music Show never left the TV screen. Considering Spiffy Pictures also produced Jack, it makes working on Donkey Hodie that much more of a dream to work on. 

What do you like to do when you’re not working? 

I love spending quality time with my family and playing music (bass guitar is my primary instrument). My work is also very much my leisure, even when I'm not on set I'm home building puppets, writing scripts, and working to produce my own content. For me, creating is just so fulfilling.