When it comes to overcoming challenges Melissa Riso is no stranger. Having been involved in a very serious auto accident at a young age she was lucky to be able to walk let alone act, model and run her own business. Melissa is strong, determined and destined for great success. She is her own boss, makes her own destiny and prefers it that way.
Riso recently released a pomade.The first product in her men’s hair care line, MR by Melissa Riso. There will be many more great products to come and you can bet you will see more of Melissa on screens big and small in the near future.
Where are you from?
Melissa: I’m from Marina, California.
When you were a kid in Marina, California. What did you want to be when you grew up?
Melissa: When I was a kid growing up, I wanted to be a singer actually.
Do you sing now?
Melissa: I do not sing now. I wasn’t born with it. [laughs]
What’s your go to karaoke song?
Melissa: My favorite karaoke song would be Hero by Mariah Carey.
What’s your favorite cardio?
Melissa: My favorite cardio is definitely boxing.
What is your favorite escape from reality?
Melissa: My favorite escape from reality is honestly, swimming. I’m a water sign, I’m a Cancer. Laying on your back in the water, floating, closing your eyes and zoning out, it’s the best feeling. My mind goes a million miles an hour all the time. It’s hard to slow it down. When you’re in the water by yourself, it’s a good way to just meditate and escape. That’s something I really like to do.
What brought you to Los Angeles?
Melissa: I came to Los Angeles to pursue acting and modeling.
What was your inspiration for wanting to be an actress and a model?
Melissa: Honestly, I was working at a salon and I had a news reporter come to get his hair done. He felt I had a good look and thought I was funny. He wanted to introduce me to his agent and they thought I should move to LA to pursue acting. So I did.
What happened from there?
Melissa: I took a lot of acting classes and I still do. I never stop. With a talent like acting it is easy to get a little rusty. I will always take classes. With modeling, I started in print. I was on a bunch of car magazine covers. I did a little Playboy and over the years I just got more professional and in stuff that I actually really wanted to do.
Do you remember the first time you stepped in front of the camera on a professional level and what that felt like?
Melissa: Yes, it was a Jerome’s furniture commercial. I had a soccer mum haircut. It was really funny, I’ll never forget it.
Were you nervous?
Melissa: No, honestly I don’t really get camera shy. I feel I’m more shy in person or in front of people than when I’m in front of a camera. I feel a little more free.
Is there a dream role that you would love to play?
Melissa: Yes, my dream role would be any kind of action film. I used to train in krav maga and kickboxing. I love shooting guns. I would love to be the next Bond girl.
If you could share the screen with any actor or actress, past or present, who would it be?
Melissa: That’s a hard one. There’s so many. I would love to film with Edward Norton. I feel he’s a little twisted. My favorite movie was fight club. I thought he was so damn good in that movie.
What sparked your entrepreneurial endeavors?
Melissa: What made me want to be more of an entrepreneur was I didn’t like taking direction from people. I felt I needed to be my own boss. I never wanted to rely on a man for money or anything like that. I want to be independent.
Tell us more about MR?
Melissa: MR, is a men’s hair pomade. It’s really good for your hair, it has keratin. It’s for all hair types. You can be a Mister monthly member. Perfect for lazy guys who don’t want to have to go to a grocery store or supplies store to get product. If you’re a member you get it delivered to your house on a monthly basis. It smells good. The packaging is very modern. I wanted to have a nice, clean, edgy look for my brand because it represents who I am. I also know guys over are becoming a little more metro. I wanted to come out with a really handsome line.
Where can we get it?
Melissa: You can get it on mrbymelissariso.com.
Interviewer: What is your five-year plan?
Melissa: My five-year plan is to expand my product line. I want a full line of men’s shampoo, conditioner, cologne, face wash, everything. I also hope to be married. I was never in a rush but I feel like it would be cool to experience that. I definitely want to own a house.
What advice would you give to any other young female entrepreneur?
Melissa: Never give up. You’re definitely going to learn a lot of things the hard way. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I was really hesitant to ask for help when I needed it. I tried researching everything on my own, doing everything on my own because I had an ego and too much pride. Over the months of me just starting my own business, I was like, “You know what? I actually need to set that aside and it’s okay to ask people for help.” Sometimes, they’ll turn you down. Sometimes, you’ll be surprised on who is actually going to be there for you.
What would you say the biggest adversity that you’ve had to overcome was?
Melissa: My freshman year of high school, I got into a massive car accident. I was on the highway going 95 and we ran into a semi-truck. I had serious injuries. I broke my spine and I had internal bleeding in my stomach. They had to cut me open and the doctors told me that I should never workout, never lift weights. I ultimately went against everything the doctor said because my body was telling me I need to move around, I need to stay active. I’ve had to be extra careful so I don’t hurt myself.
As an aspiring model and actress, it was very hard for me because I had this six-inch scar on my stomach. I was so insecure having that massive scar. I tried getting plastic surgery to help hid it but it didn’t work. One day I was in beauty college and I drew a little vine with some flowers over it. I went to this really ghetto tattoo parlor next door and had them cover it with my drawing.
It’s been a challenge getting commercial work as an actress or model with this tattoo. It’s also difficult because I can’t workout as hard as other people can. Those are challenges that I’ve always had to face.
Is there anything else you’d like to go on record?
Melisa:I’m living in a generation where women are doing the same careers as men if not even some of them are doing way more than that. They’re raising five kids, have a degree, they’re doctors, they’re still coming home and cooking and cleaning. I think that’s amazing. I hope that more women continue to come together and support each other instead of being in competition with them. When we come together and support each other, it makes us stronger as a whole.
Some girls when they are young can be naive and they are steered in the wrong direction. If you don’t have the right support or people guiding you in a modelling career especially, you can be easily pushed in the wrong direction. One thing I would love to do is give a speech about that someday. I want to do a TED Talk about women when they first start off in the modeling industry.
Photos by: Mario Barberio
Hair: Lucy Gedjeyan
Makeup: Elizabeth Seropian
Wardrobe Stylist: Joi Salvador