Let’s retrace in a few simple steps the artistic career of an extraordinary woman, endowed with a natural talent for acting, who discovered her vocation in a truly unusual way.

Melina Juergens

Video games are the product of ideas, visionary minds, brilliant performers, and unique and peculiar personalities, but above all, they are the product of stories. Extraordinary, incredible stories, often unexpected or unpredictable in many ways. Yet, despite the possibility of taking unexpected paths or diverging from the planned course, they are inevitably destined to come to fruition, sooner or later.

As gamers, it is often our responsibility to look beyond the apparent “simplicity” of a video game, to understand the messages it conveys, grasp its nuances, establish an empathetic connection with the characters, and immerse ourselves in the stories it encapsulates.

The story we’re about to share today marks the debut of a new series dedicated to the behind-the-scenes world of video games, spotlighting the talented performers and diverse personalities shaping their creation. It’s a remarkable tale, unforeseen even by its protagonist, who lived it firsthand. This is the story of a young woman who discovered her extraordinary talent in an entirely unexpected manner, revealing her innate gift and aptitude for acting.

In this article, we embark on a journey through the remarkable career of Melina Juergens. We’ll trace her path from the early days in the video game industry as a video editor to the role that propelled her into the spotlight: portraying the leading character, Senua, in the Hellblade saga.

Melina Juergens

The Story of Melina Juergens

Melina Juergens’s story begins in Germany on January 29, 1991. She resided in the country until 2007, when she completed her studies at Gymnasium Antonianum in Vechta, Lower Saxony.

In 2006, before finishing her studies and moving to England, she undertook a three-week internship at a Graphic and Web Design Company. This experience allowed her to immerse herself in the world of web design and enhance her proficiency in English, which she fluently speaks alongside German, her native language.

Later, she moved to England, where her professional growth and training truly began. Initially, from 2007 to 2008, she attended Ellesmere College in Shropshire, obtaining the International General Certificate of Secondary Education. Following this, she pursued photography courses at Cambridge Regional College between 2008 and 2009. In 2012, she furthered her education by attending film courses at the Met Film School in London, focusing on cinematography, editing, and film making.

From 2010 to 2011, Melina underwent full-time training as a portrait photographer at the Pur Fotogen photography studio in Berlin. Since 2012, she has embarked on her career in the video game industry, starting as a freelance video editor for Capcom and Ninja Theory. She made significant contributions to the DmC: Devil May Cry project, actively participating in the creation of various content, including trailers (including the official launch trailer), in-game tutorials created using Adobe After Effects, and behind-the-scenes Performance Capture sessions recorded at Giant Studios in Los Angeles. Subsequently, Ninja Theory hired her full-time, where she currently holds roles as a photographer, video editor, and actress.

A Natural Talent

As mentioned earlier, Melina’s professional journey began as a video maker. It was through this role that she first encountered the world of video games, handling video production for major titles like DmC: Devil May Cry, where she also did modeling and lent her features for some projects. Later, during her involvement with Hellblade, she found herself inadvertently drawn into other aspects of the game’s production. It was here that her unique expressiveness and natural acting ability immediately caught the eye.

The combination of her passions has led her to explore various environments and acquire experiences that have enriched her with diverse content.

For example, her love for Metal music prompted her to produce captivating photo shoots for bands like Combichrist.

Her passion for combat sports, especially MMA, has provided her with the necessary skills to portray a character like Senua convincingly. Being immersed in the world of Mixed Martial Arts, and also being married to fighter Ederson Lion Macedo, undoubtedly gives her firsthand experience of battle.

In our view, her innate inclination towards a character like Senua undoubtedly enabled her to interpret it with such intensity. It’s evident why they recognized something special in her, fortunately realizing that she was perfectly suited for that role.

Melina Juergens

In this video, where Melina narrates her journey her journey in the making of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, she highlights some quotes from the video game, sharing thoughts from Senua with which she seems to deeply empathize. For example:

“One day she decided to feel the fear and do it anyway. Life was too short to be afraid of her own imagination. She gave herself the permission to not be perfect.”


“Senua, listen to me, not them. They were afraid, like children scared of the dark, they made up monsters to fill the void, that doesn’t make them real…”

Furthermore, Melina has shown strong advocacy for mental health issues on her social media accounts, expressing concern, for instance, about the lengthy wait times for psychotherapy in Germany and petitioning the federal government to address and improve the situation.

A “New” Senua

When Hellblade came out, it was a really strange time for me because, on one hand, I was trying to celebrate how well the game was received. But on the other hand, I was just left with a feeling of emptiness because the project was so intense, and when it stopped, I just didn’t know what to do with myself, and I had no idea what comes next”.

As explained by Melina in her “Diary of a Digital Hooman” shared on her YouTube channel, on August 8, 2017, the global release of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice marked an important milestone for both Ninja Theory and Melina Juergens herself. However, it was also a moment of profound reflection and inner emptiness for Melina, who decided to take a brief break from work to contemplate the path she had taken so far and, above all, to understand what would come next and what her true desires for the future were.

Diary of a Digital Hooman - Episode 2 : Warriors in the Making

While a few months later, it was the folks at Ninja Theory who stepped in to fill this void and facilitate Melina’s decision, coming to her rescue and once again offering her the lead actress role for the sequel, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II. A choice, naturally, met with great enthusiasm and readiness on Melina’s part.

In the history of the company, Ninja Theory had never pushed so far, embracing so many risks and challenges inherent in a project of such ambition. This video game will represent a significant departure from its predecessor, with one of the team’s primary objectives being to achieve an unparalleled level of photorealism.

This led to the team’s decision to move away from relying on digital techniques for crafting Senua’s design. Instead, they adopted a wholly artisanal approach, which involved anatomical and facial scans, as well as the meticulous creation of real makeup and hairstyles, later digitized for the game. The same meticulous process was applied to the costumes, expertly crafted by skilled designers and then scanned for integration into the game.

However, this goes beyond merely achieving a more realistic and faithful portrayal; it also aims to forge a deeper bond between Melina and her character, actively involving her and allowing her to empathize and personally identify with the character and the events that involve her. Such a connection was largely absent in “Senua’s Sacrifice, a project in which Melina struggled to fully recognize herself in the character of Senua.

And we know well how immersion, stepping into a character’s shoes, grasping their essence, often plays a crucial role in a performance as complex as the one awaiting Melina Juergens. Living through her trials firsthand, listening to her thoughts, sharing and experiencing her anxieties, fears, and sudden emotional ups and downs.

In Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, Melina will represent the epitome of Senua, her most complete and definitive incarnation yet. She’ll don her attire, reveal the scars of her past, the mark etched upon her face, symbolizing the turmoil of war. She’ll be the voice, the mind, the body, the footsteps of Senua, the guide leading her through this new journey. The fierce and untamed warrior spirit we’ve never witnessed before.


Melina Juergens’ long and intense physical and mental preparation for Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice proved to be an extraordinarily unique narrative video game, but at the same time, it was an extremely challenging and demanding experience, putting Melina Juergens’ resilience to the test as she demonstrated all her incredible technical skills. The sequel will be a crucial proving ground for the German actress, offering her the opportunity to fully showcase her talents and solidify her status as an actress.

However, this will be anything but easy. Partly due to the high expectations of the audience, who, after her exceptional performance in the first installment, expect nothing short of excellence from the German actress, and also due to the numerous challenges and stress tests Melina will face.

Portraying a character like Senua, with her emotional depth, complex personality, and fragile psyche, has been a challenging endeavor for Melina. It’s been the outcome of rigorous psycho-physical preparation that tested her capabilities to their fullest. All of this cannot be underestimated. However, this is nothing compared to what the sequel requires, along with all the focus, research, and dedication Melina Juergens has poured into this “new” Senua.

In the trailers, we catch a glimpse of a transformed Senua. She seems… different, seemingly less mentally fragile on the surface, driven by an unusual surge of fury. From prey to predator, from slave to her mind to ruler of her subconscious. What emerges is a different facet of Senua, a more enraged, indomitable counterpart, apparently in control of her emotions and actions, almost immune to the anxieties and fears that once plagued her mind.

Senua was the linchpin, the central figure around whom much of the narrative in the first chapter revolved, thanks in no small part to the exceptional character design conceived by Ninja Theory and, notably, to Melina Juergens’ remarkable interpretation, which managed to infuse the character with a wide range of nuances, often contradictory, yet consistently authentic, credible, and executed with extraordinary skill.

This radical change in behavior, mindset, and demeanor poses perhaps the greatest challenge the actress will face. Living and coexisting with an unprecedented version of Senua, one who sheds her pain to embrace a more pronounced dark side, is no small feat. However, this is often the task assigned to every great performer: adeptly navigating their character’s unpredictable emotional terrain, accepting the risks, and successfully managing them, as Melina has already demonstrated on numerous occasions.

For this reason, we firmly believe that Melina will be able to overcome this new, formidable challenge, breathing new life into a character that, even in “Senua’s Sacrifice,” proved to be extremely challenging to manage and master.

However, Senua is not merely a complex tangle of emotions, a character with deep psychological complexity, but above all, she is a fearless and powerful warrior, for whom the art of war is one of her primary expressive means. This is why the Ninja Theory team didn’t settle for simply replicating the combat system from the first installment but instead opted to elevate the experience to a higher level by training Melina to become a true warrior.

The journey, filled with experimentation and extensive, grueling field experience, was not easy, especially since the Chief Creative of Ninja Theory, Tameem Antoniades, and the team had set ambitious goals. Additionally, Melina had no clear idea of how or where to begin, and most importantly, which academy to turn to for embarking on this complex training path.

Melina Juergens

However, in this case as well, the assistance and support from Ninja Theory to Melina were crucial. The team conducted extensive research on sword combat courses, eventually discovering the Screen Combat Academy in London and deciding to enroll the actress. The experience was incredibly challenging, as the course hosted not beginners, but super flexible kick-ass warriors who were ready to become stunt performers – as accurately described by Melina herself. Despite the initial difficulties encountered, throughout the course, Melina learned various intriguing combat styles and numerous weapon systems. However, as Juergens herself clarified, this was not yet enough, at least not to achieve the goal she and the team had set for the sequel.

The breakthrough came when the team, after conducting thorough research, stumbled upon the profile of C.C. Smiff, an award-winning acclaimed sword master, combat choreographer, and stunt coordinator, renowned for his contributions to blockbuster projects like Star Wars and Game of Thrones, among others. Ninja Theory wasted no time in contacting him, swiftly arranging a meeting at their studios to present their proposal. It was a decision that proved to be spot on!

After weeks of intensive training under Smiff’s guidance, complemented by practice sessions with her Ninja Theory colleagues to apply Smiff’s techniques, Melina is finally ready. Ready to become the skilled, experienced, and unstoppable warrior for which she she has tirelessly worked.

It’s Your Chance, Melina

Melina Juergens’ story reminds us that it’s never too late to uncover our talents, believe in our latent abilities, and, above all, pursue our dreams. Hers is the most emblematic example of someone who has forged their artistic career from the ground up, fueled by dedication, hard work, and passion. However, we prefer to believe in the notion that all of this was already written in destiny, that Melina was destined to become an actress. And maybe, just maybe, her first true leading role in Hellblade confirmed this for us.

Undoubtedly, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II will be another important opportunity for the actress, the perfect chance to affirm and solidify the role in which many of us have come to appreciate her, but also a new way to explore fresh horizons in the world of acting and engage in new projects. Furthermore, it could present an opportunity to break free from the from the frustrating and widespread tendency of audiences to pigeonhole artists into single-character roles, allowing her to be recognized for her versatility and talent rather than solely associated with the role of Senua.

Additionally, we’d like to remind you that the sequel to Hellblade won’t be the only project featuring the German actress. Melina is also collaborating with Ninja Theory on Project Mara, an intriguing experimental survival horror video game. We suggest keeping an eye on her professional account, Melina Juergens Productions, for all the latest updates and news on her current and upcoming projects.

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II will be available starting May 21, 2024, on PC, Xbox Series X/S, and will be released day one on Game Pass.

If you enjoyed the first episode of this new series, please continue to follow us and show your support to help us with our work.

Below, we provide some useful links where you can follow the actress in all her upcoming adventures. Good luck, Melina and Ninja Theory!

Melina Juergens’ social media accounts: FacebookInstagramLinkedinXYouTube

Grown up with MediEvil and DOOM and fascinated by the video game world since 1998. This passion stems from a desire to discover and research the videogame at 360 degrees, with particular attention to the Indie scene.
I'm an Italian artist who came late to the gaming world but fell in love with it right away. I'm not the best gamer, and I choose titles that appeal to my personal preferences, but I can appreciate the graphics content and artistic solutions above all, even as I learn about all the fascinating game development features.