Name: Melissa Barrera
Sundance project: “Your Monster,” directed by Caroline Lindy, a dark rom-com meets horror movie that is also a musical. Barrera is the lead, opposite Tommy Dewey as the monster.
Notable past credits: “Scream” and “Scream VI,” as well as “In the Heights” and the TV series “Vida.”
The Mexican actress came to Sundance in 2018 to participate on a panel for “Vida,” but 2024 marks her first year at the festival with a film in competition. She’s making the most of the experience, attending every screening and question-and-answer session — even traveling to the ones in Salt Lake.
“When you speak to audiences, you get the opportunity for them to give you their honest reaction. And a lot of them just want to say how much they love it. And that’s awesome,” Barrera says. “It just feels so good to make a movie — especially indies, they’re labors of love, you don’t have a lot of resources, you don’t have a lot of time, everybody’s in it because they believe in it and they want to keep indie cinema alive. And it’s up-and-coming filmmakers, a lot of them first features like Caroline [Lindy]. And then having the validation of the laughter of the audience, the cheering, the gasp. Just being in a full theater and hearing the reactions is like nothing else. It’s so satisfying.”
Barrera says she doesn’t exactly know why, but that Lindy was apparently quite set on having her star in the project — so much so that she flew from London all the way to Los Angeles to meet with Barrera about it.
“She hopped on a plane from London to L.A., had dinner with me at Mel’s Diner. And I was like, ‘yeah, this is it,’” Barrera says. “I loved her. She’s so likable when you meet her, but also the fact that she hopped on a plane and then after our meeting she was hopping on another plane and going right back. And I was like, ‘I would do that for something that I really want.’”
The character of Laura was so on the nose for Barrera, “it was like I wished up this movie,” she says.
“I’m a musical theater nerd, Laura is a musical theater actress. It has horror elements and it’s a rom-com,” she says. “It had everything that I love.”