Conversation With… Melissa Gateau
I met Melissa at a press conference that was organized by Niwel, the cosmetics brand dedicated to people with mixed and black skin, launched by Franck Provost. She was with Noémie Lenoir, one of her close friends and inspiration for the brand, and throughout the evening, we ended up chatting and talking a bit about our respective lives. You might have noticed, at least it jumped out at me, but Melissa is the type of natural beauty that catches the eye, the type of beauty that stands out from the crowd. I couldn’t stop myself from taking her pictures, and in talking with her, I thought that it would be interesting to share with you about her journey, her passion for cinema, and her beauty secrets.
Describe yourself in a few words. Where did you grow up?
I’m 23 years old, I’m a young comedienne and I grew up alongside my 6 brothers and sisters in Bondy en Seine Saint Denis.
When you were young, what did you dream of doing when you grew up?
When I was a kid, I dreamed of being a soldier (laugh), and not about being a princess. I was a real tomboy, and it wasn’t until much later that I discovered my overwhelming passion for cinema, in middle school, I think.
Tell me more… What was the trigger and why a career in acting?
Two things: emotion and inspiration.
Acting and interpreting plays was, for me, like a revelation. It’s rare to have a career where you have the opportunity to lose yourself completely in a character who is different than who you are in your daily life. To be someone else for a moment is just huge, and I would say even more than just that, is that it’s brilliant to be able to share your passion. Julia Roberts was my source of inspiration, a sort of model. She is a great actress, she has incredible acting skills. There are plenty of others who equally inspire me, but with her and me, it’s a love story… a love at first sight in many ways.
It took me a while, but before saying to myself, “Go Mélissa, you should put yourself out there if you want to do this job”. The rest was a combination of circumstances. One day, I noticed an ad for an acting school where you could do a two-week internship. I signed up, that was the trigger.
What happened then, did you take acting classes?
Yes, at the end of the internship, I took a 2-year course with Acting International and two more years at The Stephanie Gildas Academy, which taught me a lot and especially on my acting skills, to know how to move on stage, control my breathing, master my emotions and know how to use them at the right time while letting go. I believe that an actor’s skill refines itself over time and that you never stop learning. It’s also my motto, which gives me the pep to continue my acting classes, and then it allows me to learn more about myself, know who I am.
During castings, have you ever come across challenges that you had to deal with?
Not really, and I hope not to have to deal with any, but I know that this career takes perseverance. I’m mixed with a fairly atypical profile and that can play in my favor.
Before going to a casting call, I have a gigantic knot in my stomach as the stress mounts. I reassure myself and tell myself that I am the only one in control of what happens, that I have the keys to my destiny in my hands. You have to push on, despite the difficulties that you meet in this career. Once the casting is over, the stress is still there until the response comes back, but I still have the relief that it’s over. I go over my presentation again and again and I ask myself if it was good enough… I critique myself despite the fact that it’s the worst thing to do, but we all do it, don’t we? 😉
And I suppose that in this career, your appearance is equally an asset… What advice do you have about your daily beauty routine?
First of all, my morning routine: I need to have a good night’s sleep in order to have a face with really smooth skin. Right after I wake up, I drink a little glass of water, always followed by a green tea, which is excellent for the skin and your cells. I wash my face with a foaming face wash from Caudalie that leaves my skin soft and clean feeling. Then I apply a cream made from bamboo and aloe vera; it’s very hydrating and gives my skin a matte finish and tightens my pores.
During the day, I never skip my lipgloss because I hate having dry lips and a woman should always put a high value on her lips.
At night, it all depends on my plans, but I don’t put on much makeup: a little blush, some mascara, and a good lipstick is plenty for me, it’s chic and glamorous while still remaining natural.
WRITTEN ON FEBRUARY 20TH 2015, IN PARIS!