Melissa Barerra – How She Became A Breakout Star

Melissa Barrera has been making waves in Hollywood, picking up bigger and bigger roles over the last few years.

By Rick Gonzales | Published

melissa barrera

At the rate Melissa Barerra is going, if she doesn’t watch out, she may soon be called a Scream Queen. The Mexican singer and actress took some time before she reached American audiences but since that time, she has been making a name for herself. Let’s see if we can break down where the rising actress has come from and where her exciting future looks to take her.

YOUNG MELISSA BARRERA

Melissa Barerra was born in 1990 in Monterrey, Mexico, where she was also raised. At a young age, she fell in love with theater when she was cast in her high school’s production of The Wizard of Oz. Although she only had an ensemble role, she was bitten by the acting and singing bug. Also, while attending high school (American School Foundation of Monterrey), Barerra appeared in the school’s musical productions of Aida, Footloose, and Grease. Music was becoming a focal point of her life.

After Barerra graduated high school, she decided to give her acting and singing a try. For that, Melissa Barerra moved to the United States and began her studies at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts. Her goal, once she finished school, was to sing, dance, and act on Broadway. She did graduate, but her goal was not met. Instead, Barerra moved back to Mexico and started her journey there.

Melissa Barerra’s first project came in 2012 on the telenovela’s La otra cara del Alma and La mujer de Judas. Although she didn’t last long on either series, it did lead her up to her first starring role in the telenovela Siempre tuya Acapulco. This time Barrera lasted 128 episodes on the Mexican soap opera.

SHE CAN SING

One of the reasons Melissa Barerra went to study in the United States was because she loved to sing. She had hoped Broadway would be her ticket and although it wasn’t, it didn’t stop her from singing. In 2013, she became one half of the Mexican singing duet, Melissa y Sebastian, and together they recorded their first self-titled album that produced the hit “Mamma Maria”. You can head on over here to Spotify and give it a listen.

FROM TELENOVELA TO AMERICA

2015 saw Melissa Barerra join the cast of the telenovela Tanto amor. She also provided the vocals, along with Mexican singer Kalimba, for the theme song, “Volver a caer.” The next couple of years saw Barerra continue her journey through telenovelas as she was also seen in Perseguidos and Club de Cuervos. She also expanded a bit by working on two features, Manual de principiantes para ser president and El Hotel.

2018 was a turning point for Melissa Barerra. She did star in a couple of Mexican features, Sacudete Las Penas and Dos Veces Tú, but 2018 marked Barerra’s first venture onto the American scene when she was picked up as the lead in the Starz series Vida. The series was an immediate hit as it told the story of two very different sisters who move back home after the death of their mother.

Barerra played Lyn Hernandez, a free-spirit, vegan who found the company of the very wealthy Caucasian men of San Francisco to her liking. Her sister is played by Mishel Prada and, as Emma, she is strong-willed and queer. Emma has a high-profile job in Chicago she had to leave when their mother passed, bringing both women back to Boyle Heights in Los Angeles.

The series hit on all cylinders and each of the three seasons sits at 100% with critics over at Rotten Tomatoes. Although Starz had a hit on its hands, the third season was its final though if you are interested, the series could be a quick binge. Season one only has six episodes, season 2 has 10 episodes and the final season 3 only has six.

A DREAM COME TRUE…ALMOST

Melissa Barerra never lost sight of her dream to star on Broadway and although she still hasn’t hit that stage, she is getting closer and closer. In 2021, she picked up the key role of Vanessa for the film version of the Broadway musical, In the Heights. The story of the film has it set in Washington Heights (in New York) and tells of a bodega owner Usnavi (played by Anthony Ramos) who has just inherited his grandmother’s fortune and is retiring to the Dominican Republic. His mixed feelings about leaving “the Heights” is what moves the story forward, along with his relationship with Vanessa.

The film, which comes from the mind of Lin-Manuel Miranda, received fantastic reviews and shot Melissa Barerra up the ladder of top up-and-coming stars. She got to sing, she got to dance, and she got to act. And it was almost on Broadway.

A NEW “SCREAM” QUEEN?

melissa barrera

Melissa Barerra was really beginning to make some noise. After her wonderful performance in In the Heights, she moved on to a more serious role with the film All the World is Sleeping. In it, she played a drug-addicted mother who continues to fight her addiction so she can be with her daughter. It would be her next film, though, that would have people asking who Melissa Barerra was and set her on the possible Scream Queen path.

It had been eleven years and endless discussions since fans of the Scream franchise last saw Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Gail Weathers (Courtney Cox), and Dewey Riley (David Arquette). Finally, though, the stars aligned with a script and new directors, and Scream 5 was born. Along with the three Scream veterans, all of which starred in each Scream film, Melissa Barerra joined the Scream family as the new lead, Sam Carpenter.

The story brings Barerra’s Sam into the mix as her sister, Tara Carpenter, played by Jenna Ortega, has a near-fatal run-in with Ghostface. As teens begin to get picked off, Dewey comes out of hiding to help fight the unknown killer, which in turn brings back both Gail and Sydney to Woodsboro. Although the film wasn’t exactly the thriller that the first film brought to the table (hard to top that one), the combination of old and new created a very compelling film, replete with the twists and surprises all Scream film fans look for.

The big news coming from the fifth film was that it was successful enough to warrant a sixth, and the surviving cast, which does include Barerra, will be returning. Unfortunately, the one star who will not be returning is Sydney Prescott. In what may be a small SPOILER ALERT, Sydney survived to see the sixth film, but Neve Campbell put the brakes on her return.

Campbell’s decision was not an easy one for the actress to make, as she has been the face of the franchise since its inception. But what forced her hand was the “offer” that she was given from the movie studio to return as the face of Scream. In her heart of hearts, Campbell simply felt that the offer presented to her was not up to par. “I did not feel that what I was being offered equated to the value that I bring to this franchise, and have brought to this franchise, for 25 years,” she explained to People after turning down the offer. In Campbell’s eyes, if she had been a man who was the face of a blockbuster franchise, the numbers would look completely different. “In my soul, I just couldn’t do that. I couldn’t walk on set feeling that — feeling undervalued and feeling the unfairness, or lack of fairness, around that.”

“KEEP BREATHING,” MELISSA

melissa barrera

While Melissa Barerra waits for filming to begin on the sixth Scream film, she currently can be seen in the Netflix mini-series, Keep Breathing. The story has Barerra in the lead role about a young woman who survives a plane crash in the middle of the Canadian wilderness and must battle the elements and loneliness in order to survive. The story is also told with ample flashbacks to give viewers an idea of how and why Barerra’s character got to where she is.

WHAT COMES NEXT FOR MELISSA?

She’s recently married and she’s pregnant. Okay, we aren’t starting any rumors here because, yes, they both are true. In 2019, Melissa Barerra said “I do” to singer Paco Zazueta. The couple met before Barerra’s career took off and since that time became much closer. The marriage was a culmination of eight years of dating.

As for Melissa being pregnant, it is true, but only for a film. Her next project is called Bed Rest and in it, the 32-year-old actress portrays a pregnant woman who has been given bed rest and now believes her house is haunted. She will also be seen in the film, Carmen, a modern-day reimaging of the opera of the same name. One more chance for Barerra to show off her pipes. And of course, we can’t forget about Scream 6.