‘In the Heights’ star Melissa Barrera is 2021’s hot star

“It was July. It was supposed to be hot — but the pool was freezing,” recollects Melissa Barrera.

“It was raining the entire time, and we had 500 dancers and extras, and we kept having to stop because there was lightning!” Barrera’s face breaks into a smile at the pure chaos of capturing an enormous, aquatic musical quantity outside. “We’d all be on the sidelines cheering on the dancers. It was such a fun week!” 

That track, “96,000,” is one in all a number of showstoppers from “In the Heights,” the new film musical by which Barrera performs the feminine lead, aspiring designer Vanessa, who falls in love with Anthony Ramos’ bodega-owner character, Usnavi.

Directed by Jon M. Chu (“Crazy Rich Asians”), the movie — which is a love letter to the Dominican group in Washington Heights — is tailored from the Tony-winning Broadway present by Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton”).

Shot in 2019, its debut final summer season was delayed due to COVID-19. It’s already received advance rave reviews and can open the Tribeca Festival on June 9, adopted by a theatrical launch on June 11. It will stream at the same time on HBO Max.

The actress posing in a denim jacket.
Jacket, $138 at Lee; Bandeau, $175, and pants, $345, each at Baja East; 14-k yellow-gold earrings with diamonds, $825 at Mateo New York; “Monica” necklace, $198, and “Janice” necklace, $298, each at Jennifer Behr; Choker, $88 at Electric Picks; Bracelet, $66 at Bon Bon Whims; “Ada” 18-k yellow-gold rings with diamonds, $3,950, each at Melissa Kaye Jewelry
Ben Watts

Packed with large ensemble songs, New York City vistas, hip-hop swagger and old school romance, it’s arduous to think about a extra wonderful cause for folks to return to cinemas, says Barrera. “I feel like this movie will make people yearn to go back to crowded places and busy streets,” she says. “And the music of the city, like Usnavi says in the movie — you don’t realize that until you miss it. It’s such a distinct soundtrack.” 

On Zoom from Studio City in LA, Barrera says, “It’s very quiet where I am. In New York, you’re in it. You feel the energy.” 

This is a uncommon interval of downtime for the Mexican actress.

Unlike most of us, Barrera’s been a whirlwind of exercise throughout the pandemic. If you didn’t catch her in the critically acclaimed Starz show “Vida” — and you actually ought to have — simply wait till the fruits of her labors over the previous two years begin to drop.

She’s the star of an upcoming adaptation of the opera “Carmen,” and she or he’s additionally in the newest installment of the “Scream” franchise.

Melissa Barrera posing in the Hamptons.
“Dina” bodysuit, $420 at Roberta Einer; Skirt, $473 at Bevza; “Blossom” sandals, $2,050 at Roger Vivier; “Starlight” earrings, $248 at Loren Hope; “Smiley” ring, $30 at Bon Bon Whims; “Claudia” scrunchie, $230 at Hermes
Ben Watts

Barrera’s star could also be rising rapidly, however she’s nonetheless geeking out over her personal favourite actors. Working alongside Daphne Rubin-Vega in “In the Heights” was significantly surreal. “I’m such a huge fan of hers from ‘Rent,’ ” Barrera says. Rubin-Vega, who performs salon proprietor Daniela in “Heights,” originated the “Rent” position of Mimi Marquez on Broadway. “When I met her, I was freaking out,” Barrera says. “And she’s so oblivious to the fact that she’s an icon.”

It was like that on the set of “Scream,” too, the place Barrera’s co-stars included Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette. “I would be doing a scene with Courteney or Neve,” says Barrera, “and when the directors would cut, I’d whisper to them, ‘Take a picture, take a picture!’ I would act all casual, so they could get a shot of us.”

I realized loads about Latinx illustration, and the lack of it. We had a nonbinary actor, so it was additionally about queer illustration, and trans illustration, and all this stuff that, in Mexico, I wasn’t uncovered to.

Barrera on “Vida”

“Scream,” which filmed final fall, options Barrera as a personality named Sam Carpenter. This is, alas, all she’s allowed to say. But the character’s title, which she factors out is non-Latina, tells its personal story. “The role was written to be played by a white girl,” she says. “And I feel like the studio was giving me a chance, and casting me and leaving the name as-is is a step in representation, and being open to giving the role to the best actor, not just casting an ethnicity.”

Barrera has been more and more vocal about Latinx illustration in Hollywood, and credit 2018’s edgy “Vida,” partially, with lighting that spark. “I learned a lot about Latinx representation, and the lack of it,” she says. “We had a nonbinary actor, so it was also about queer representation, and trans representation, and all these things that, in Mexico, I wasn’t exposed to.”

These days she’s making a degree to push for nonstereotypical Latinx roles in Hollywood — a spot the place, not so way back, she says Salma Hayek was the solely Mexican actress Barrera had as a job mannequin. “I feel like, whenever I can, I want to raise my voice for my community, and present in a way that makes everybody proud. So little boys and girls growing up watching the stories I’m doing see themselves, and can point to the character and be like, ‘I can do that as well.’ ”

Melissa Barrera posing in a cardigan.
“Miranda” cardigan, $458 at Nana Jacqueline; Bra, $185, and pants, $265, each at Yan Yan Knits; Clutch, $5,795 at Judith Leiber; “Lemon Drop” earrings, $168 at Loren Hope; “Valentina ‘I Love NY’ ” necklace, $4,500 at Larkspur and Hawk; Ring, $30 at Bon Bon Whims

She doesn’t have an issue pushing again on roles she sees as stereotypical or racist. “A lot of the scripts I get, I’m like, ‘You don’t understand how this is a negative portrayal.’ But when I say no, I always explain why. I’ve had a few people come back and go, ‘I hadn’t thought of that, thank you, and I’ll work on a rewrite.’ So that’s a little bit of my contribution. Not just saying no, but explaining why that is damaging.”

The 30-year-old Barrera, who was born in Monterrey, Mexico, attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts for 2 years earlier than leaving to take a job in a telenovela again dwelling. The 4 years she spent in Mexican soaps have been like performing boot camp, an expertise she wouldn’t commerce for something. 

“I would shoot 30 scenes a day,” she says. “I know the genre is looked down upon, but I would invite any actor to try to shoot a soap. It’s a challenge, and a set of skills, and a lot of discipline. In Mexico, you rarely have two takes.”

Her CrossFit-level performing muscular tissues have been put to the check in “Scream,” she says, which might flip between comedian and stabby in a single scene. They additionally got here in useful for taking over the title position in “Carmen,” directed by ballet dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied in his feature-film directing debut. 

Melissa Barrera posing with a camera in the Hamptons.
“Hurricane Cove” shirt, $128 at Tombolo; “Meghan” shorts, $338 at Nana Jacqueline; “Urban” sandals, $45 at Nina Shoes; “Mostly Sunny” socks, $24 at Mother Denim; Necklace, $48 at Victoria Emerson; Bracelet, $80 at Bon Bon Whims; “i-Type” digital camera, $100 at Polaroid
Ben Watts

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” she says. “There’s a lot of dancing, and I had to do the training for that. It was super rewarding. It felt like every day we were making art.”

But that artwork required sacrifice. For the first time in her life, Barrera needed to spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve alone, quarantining in Australia for the shoot. She couldn’t even be along with her husband, musician Paco Zazueta. 

Eventually, the couple acquired a number of months in lockdown, of their dwelling in Sonora, Mexico. They didn’t thoughts sheltering in place. “It was so fun to be a normal couple, because we’re always apart. And so when we spend time together, it’s like a honeymoon: Let’s go somewhere, let’s travel! It was nice to have regular at-home time together.” 

I don’t need tight anymore. I’ve been at so many occasions the place I can’t breathe, or sit down, or eat, as a result of it’ll give me a meals stomach. I don’t need that in my life anymore.

Melissa Barrera

Shortly after Australia, she was summoned again to New York by Ramos, who had waited to shoot a video for his new single till Barrera was accessible to be in it. “Say Less” sees the two stars in a sultry mild, entwining to the sounds of Ramos’ R&B jam. “We hadn’t seen each other in a year,” she says, “and it feels like being back with family, when we’re together.” As it occurs, she’s carrying the leather-based pants from that video whereas on our chat. They’re loads cooler than most Zoom fare I’ve seen. 

Barrera is on a mission to carve out a red-carpet fashion that’s each fashion-forward and pandemic-reminiscent. “I don’t want tight anymore. I’ve been at so many events where I can’t breathe, or sit down, or eat, because it’ll give me a food belly. I don’t want that in my life anymore.” Her want was granted just lately: Armani loaned her a go well with fabricated from literal sweatpants. “It was cut like a striped navy suit,” she says. “It was incredible!”

Barrera thinks the phrase is out now to designers who’re paying consideration. “Everyone who’s been wearing loungewear for a year? We’re not going back.” 

Who can say what colourful creation she’ll procure for the “In the Heights” premiere — however she is aware of she’ll be comfy in the firm of colleagues who’ve change into household. Even now, she says, the “In the Heights” group-text chat is going robust, day-after-day.

Melissa Barrera posing on stairs.
Melissa Barrera is the star of “In the Heights,” a brand new film musical coming to theaters and HBO Max.
Ben Watts

“It feels like the movie is an arts high school we’re all graduating from and going out to do other things,” she says. “It feels awesome to be able to share in each other’s successes.” And to return again for sophistication reunions of types.

This is a apply Miranda has nurtured for his ensembles all through his profession. Ramos acquired his massive break in “Hamilton,” and you’ll catch cameos from each Miranda and Christopher Jackson, who performed George Washington, in the new movie. 

“He’s kind of like this fairy godmother,” Barrera says of Miranda. “When he loves you, he has your back. And I think that’s so beautiful.” 

Fashion Editor: Serena French; Stylist: Anahita Moussavian; Fashion Assistant: Alejandra Munt; Hair: Josué Perez at Tracey Mattingly utilizing Frenchies Hairpins; Makeup: Talia Sparrow; Manicure: Ellen Jin at The One Nail & Spa

On location

Melissa Barrera on the putting green at 36 Gin Lane.
Shirt, $190, and “Nasrin” skirt, $325, each at Abacaxi; Bikini top, $265 at Oseree; “Primadonna” necklace, $498, and “Arista” bracelet, $108, each at Loren Hope; Bracelets, $95 every at Lele Sadoughi; “Claudia” scrunchie, $230 at Hermes
Ben Watts

Alexa cowl star Melissa Barrera was photographed at Ocean Dream, an iconic 80-year-old Southampton property on famend Gin Lane.

Built in 1940 by Henry Ford’s daughter Anne Ford (the property was a marriage reward from her dad), the sprawling shingle-style nine-bedroom, nine-full-bathroom mansion is unfold over greater than 7,500 sq. toes of newly renovated dwelling area.

It boasts vast wraparound porches and facilities resembling employees quarters, a fitness center, media room and sunroom.

Set off a personal highway, the 3.7-acre grounds embrace a three-car storage, pool and accompanying home, golf placing inexperienced and a chic grass tennis court docket.

The property at 5 Fair Lea Road (36 Gin Lane) is asking $49 million with Corcoran’s Marcella O’Callaghan.

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