By Natalia Barr | June 22, 2015 | People
We chat with model and actress Melissa Boloña about her latest role in In Stereo, what motivates her to do charity work, and why she wants to work with Jennifer Lawrence or Chris Hemsworth next.
Melissa Boloña has modeled for countless magazine covers and editorials, representing brands like Gents, Beach Bunny Swimwear, and Love Haus Lingerie. More recently however, Boloña has taken multiple strategic steps in pursuit of her childhood dream to act in films, which is evident from her jam-packed lineup of upcoming projects. She's playing a news reporter in a John Travolta action movie, I Am Wrath, and stars in her first leading role in the romantic comedy, In Stereo. And did we mention she's a do-gooder with the distinction of being one of the “Top 20 Under 40 Philanthropists in NYC,” and she has an ever-growing fanbase of dedicated social media followers?
In anticipation of the New York premiere of In Stereo (June 24), we sat down with Boloña to find out how she got her start, why philanthropy is important to her, and who she wants to make a movie with next.
How did you get started with acting?
MELISSA BOLOÑA: I was actually at my family's house last month, and saw all of these little momentos and notes I wrote to myself. Basically, when I was very young, [around] 11 or 12 years old, [acting was] always what I wanted to do and it was always what I would talk about. My mom would bring me to auditions for plays, and she even took me to a class. Then I kind of stopped and focused on school and college. [...] I was studying international marketing abroad in Paris. While I was in Paris for my business courses, I also started taking acting classes again and getting back into it. When I graduated from school, I thought, “Hey, there’s no better time to pursue your dreams and your goals than now,” so I’m doing it.
In Stereo will be your first leading role in a feature film. What was it like stepping up to play a bigger part in a movie like this?
MB: Obviously I was nervous, and I just wanted to do the best job I possibly could to prove myself. And I’ve gotta say, working with Micah Hauptman who plays David, and the director Mel Rodriguez, I couldn’t have asked for nicer people to support me in my first lead role. There are some emotional scenes, and Micah and Mel really helped to bring out my innermost [feelings]. Going into it, I was very nervous, but then I came out of it feeling very good about it. I'm excited to do more projects like that.
You also have another film coming out, I Am Wrath. How was acting in an action movie like that different from acting in a romantic comedy like In Stereo?
MB: It was kind of unbelievable. I play a news reporter, a smaller role, but [it had] a very big budget, and the set was crazy—it was crazy to be on a set that big. They have all the bells and whistles. There were so many people on that set, and so many extras. It was a little overwhelming. But, once again, the director was super [sweet] and supportive, and [so were] the actors I worked with. [...] I really thought it was a good experience to be behind the camera in such an overwhelming situation with so many people, because that’s how you learn and get used to it. It was just so different from In Stereo because In Stereo was more of a tight-knit family, […] whereas I Am Wrath was this huge production.
Are there any actors or actresses who you would love to work with?
MB: I’m a huge Jennifer Lawrence fan. I think she’s great and she’s a lot of fun, and she inspires me every day in my job, so she would be a fun actress to do a movie with. As for male actors, I guess I’m not alone in this to say Chris Hemsworth. I love his acting, and he’s not too bad to look at!
Do you think your modeling career helps your acting career and vice versa?
MB: I do think it has helped my acting career and established a base of people who want to see my photos and what I’m doing. The same people that have followed me throughout my modeling [career] are now so excited to see my movies and my acting work.
As far as charity work goes, you were named one of the New York Observer’s top 20 under 40 philanthropists in NYC. What inspires you to be involved in so many charities and organizations?
MB: Since I was little, I’ve always loved stuff like that. I used to help my mom at work—she’s a real estate agent—so I would go in, and during Christmas they would have a day where you’d donate toys and wrap them for kids who unfortunately can’t have a nice Christmas. I would [also] raise money for the American Heart Association. [My] real charity work came from modeling, when I shot for the menswear line called Gents. The CEO Josh [Reed] and I were talking, and we have the same passion. We both love kids, and I also love animals. [...] We came together, took some meetings, and started his charity, Gents Gives, for kids fighting cancer. And from there, it just kind of took off, and I saw more opportunities to help out and to get involved, including with the Haitian Relief Organization.
What’s next for you?
MB: Right now, I’m actually in Canada. I’m shooting a movie here where I’m one of the lead roles. [...] It’s a comedy, the name kind of says it all, Frat Pack. And being on set, I just can’t stop cracking up. Everyone is so funny, the scenes are coming out so great, and I am so excited about it—it makes me want to explore comedy more. I love comedy and making people laugh.
photography by tristan fewings/gettyimages