interview by JANA LETONJA

Actress Melanie Liburd is starring in ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ alongside Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, releasing in theaters on 7th June. Melanie is best known for her roles in ‘This Is Us’, ‘Power Book II: Ghost’ and ‘The Idol’.

Melanie, you’re starring in the highly anticipated ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’. How exciting was getting cast on the ‘Bad Boys’ franchise?
So exiting. I’ve been a fan of the franchise since I can remember. As a family we all used to get together and watch. I remember watching Will Smith and Téa Leoni on screen thinking “Wow, what amazing chemistry they have”, and I wanted to do that.

What can you tease about the film and your character?
Christine and Mike have a really beautiful relationship. She’s a grounding spiritual force who helps Mike to open up and trust again. Mike has finally met his soulmate and match. 

How does this fourth film in the franchise differ from the first three?
This movie is action packed and hilarious. It’s also about trust, deep love and friendship. Christine helps Mike heal through his physical injuries and grow emotionally, opening him up to his first real and meaningful relationship.

What is your favourite memory from the set?
Doing the wobble with the cast, Will sporadically free styling and keeping everyone entertained, Martin being so funny that everyone is ugly cry laughing, filming in Atlanta and Miami at the most stunning locations. I loved how creative our directors Adi and Bilall were and how they were always open to ideas and collaboration.

Shooting was impacted and halted due to the SAG strike. How did you personally deal with that pause in filming?
Our strike was tough for a lot of people and it went on for so long. I went out on picket lines, read a lot, painted, wrote. I think everyone was relieved when it was over and we could all get back to work. 

Before ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’, fans best know you from shows like ‘This Is Us’, ‘Power Book II: Ghost’ and ‘The Idol’. Which role so far has been the most significant in your career and why?
I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have played so many different types of characters in drama and comedy. Every role I’ve played has been impactful and has taught me so much. This is the biggest movie I have ever worked on and it was like a dream come true getting the part and working alongside Will and Martin. I manifested hard for this one and even dreamt about getting the part. I’m still pinching myself.

What kind of roles and projects challenge you as an actress the most?
I enjoy the study of people and the psychology behind it all. The more complexity and flaws a character has, the more I enjoy it. I obsess about the little details and think this is what really brings a character to life. I adore dark, gritty psychological thrillers and true stories. I watch a lot of documentaries and listen to all the weird podcasts.

Having been in the industry for many years already, what are your goals for the future of your career?
Create, produce and act in my own movies and TV shows, make movies and television that tell important stories and change people’s minds, find more beautiful and interesting connections, and give back in ways I can.

What are your biggest passions in life, besides of course acting?
My family and chosen family, and my wonderful, loving dogs. I’m a massive animal lover and grew up in a house full of dogs, cats, birds and any insects we could save. I travel a lot because my family live across the world and so I really enjoy submerging myself in different cultures and trying new and delicious food. Art, theatre and live music make me feel alive.  

What can you share with us about your upcoming projects in which we’ll be able to see you in next?
We’ve been talking about some incredible projects and I have a feeling it’s going to be an exciting and momentous summer.

photography NINA DUNCAN
styling MICHAEL FUSCO at Exclusive Artists
hair LARRY SIMS at Forward Artists
makeup CAROLA GONZALEZ at Forward Artists
editor-in-chief TIMOTEJ LETONJA
interview JANA LETONJA