Meet Daniela Melchior, Balmain’s Newest Muse
At Paris Fashion Week last month, Daniela Melchior wore a suit. It might be a typical choice for some, but for the Portugeuse newcomer starring in beloved action movie franchises like Guardians of the Galaxy and Fast and Furious, this particular Balmain look represented a fold in her coming-of-age story, which is turning out pretty nicely. “It’s time for me to dress like a grown-ass woman,” Melchior remembers telling her stylist. “And I loved it.” Back home in Portugal, we caught up with the rising blockbuster star on Zoom to reflect on life before she made it, from going rogue in elementary school plays to booking her very first professional gig.
EMMA SCHARTZ: You’re in Lisbon right now, right?
DANIELA MELCHIOR: Yes, I’m in Lisbon. I’m based here. I just bought a house here. So I’ll be here as long as I can for now.
SCHARTZ: How does it feel being a first-time homeowner?
MELCHIOR: Ah, it’s great. Finally I can say that I have something that it’s mine. I’ve been renting for, I don’t know, quite a bit of time in Lisbon. But with the housing crisis and everything in Portugal, I just felt that it was the right time to go outside of Lisbon. Go back to the place that I grew up. It’s the other side of the bridge close to the beach. I’m very happy here.
SCHARTZ: How’s the weather in Lisbon right now?
MELCHIOR: So it’s not sunny at all. Fall is arriving and we’ve been feeling that. But it’s been calm. I feel that all the foreigners are leaving, because the summer is ending and everyone’s going back to work.
SCHARTZ: What is it like when you come home? Do you kind of have a routine to de-stress or anything like that?
MELCHIOR: Ah, so the first thing that I do is laundry. But then I have my bags open for a few days. And I’m too lazy to unpack for real and take everything out. And I would say that the next few days after I come back from traveling is just me time. I feel like I run out of my social battery, so I need that time for myself. And I pick up my dog because I don’t travel with her for now. So those are the first things that I do–just Netflix and chill, me time, and spend time with my dog and my best friend, basically.
SCHARTZ: You mentioned warm feelings of home. Growing up, did you have favorite actors or actresses?
MELCHIOR: Oh, that’s a tough question. I never had that specific actor or actress that I looked up to. Because growing up I would watch a few movies but in Portugal, we don’t voice over things, so I started watching foreign movies and American movies once I was able to read the subtitles. Then I would watch Cartoon Network. I was never a Disney girl. I also remember watching documentaries about aliens and stuff. But I can say that my favorite movies are Cinema Paradiso, Casablanca. What else? Leon: The Professional. And my favorite ever is Life is Beautiful, the Italian movie.
SCHARTZ: These are good picks. Cinema Paradiso and Casablanca, even Leon: The Professional, are little bit before our time.
MELCHIOR: Yeah, I don’t know, I’ve always spent time with older friends. Not old people, but older than me. They have a different kind of background and a different kind of taste. I love movies that make me dream, but without special effects. Whenever they touch my heart and make me sob, I love that.
SCHARTZ: I personally love Cinema Paradiso so much, and having older friends that influence you.
MELCHIOR: I grew up studying at a private school, but not like, with nuns and stuff. And then when I went to high school, I had to choose a subject. So I chose drama and I found myself in a class of people where I was the youngest, with another girl. I had my first contact with people that used to smoke between classes, cigarettes, joints, everything. I was like, “Oh my god, this is a new world!” And then I started hanging out more with people older than me, talking about movies, music, so I felt that it opened like a few doors to worlds that I never was in touch with, especially culturally.
SCHARTZ: Yeah, absolutely. 14 is a fun age for that to happen, when you’re developing who you are and what you’re into and what your tastes are.
MELCHIOR: I knew that I liked acting. And I remember telling my parents when I decided to pursue that. They told me, “But Daniela, you know that actors in Portugal are not well paid. What are you doing with your life?” As I was finishing my last year, I remember applying to a modeling agency, because I thought that was the way for me to get an acting agent. I was accepted at my first modeling agency when I was 16. I had my first contact with the professional world. I started doing small commercials, having small jobs as a model and just learning as much as I could. When I was 17, in my last year, I booked my first TV role. And I remember my parents, they didn’t tell me but I really felt it, like, “Now that you make your own money, everything that you need, you will be paying for.” So from that time, I started having that survival instinct. What can I do to keep working and to keep having my money and be independent as soon as I can? And the time would fly whenever I was working. I was just doing what I love to do and being paid for it, basically.
SCHARTZ: Do you remember your very first role?
MELCHIOR: I remember having drama classes even before high school when I was like 10. And I remember building characters out of clichés. Very posh and very fancy women. We have a city outside of Lisbon called Cascais. Imagine the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. So I liked portraying those clichés and making fun of that, and the class would laugh a lot. And I was like, “Oh, okay, now I have attention.” So I loved it. And I remember having a few plays at school, I’d tell my teacher that I would memorize all my lines. But whenever we would get on stage, I would improvise and just make all the parents laugh. And the teacher wouldn’t mind!
SCHARTZ: You wanted to entertain! You were just at Paris Fashion Week. Did you have any favorite memories from the trip?
MELCHIOR: Obviously, I’ve always dreamed about being part of the Balmain army. I remember being young and hearing about Balmain for the first time, about the collaboration between Balmain and H&M here in Portugal. Seeing the picture and thinking, “Oh, my God, I wish I was there.” But I was just starting as an actress, so obviously I wouldn’t have been invited. And a few years later, I’m invited to watch the show. Being in the same room with such iconic people like Cher, it’s crazy. I was kind of starstruck.
SCHARTZ: I was going to ask who left you starstruck!
MELCHIOR: Yeah, I would say Cher and another person. When I was waiting to go inside the Balmain show, there was this guy that has an Instagram that I’ve been following for, I don’t know, a year. And I told my friend and publicist, Sergio, “Sorry, but I need to go speak to this guy. I don’t care that he doesn’t know me.” So I approached him. His Instagram is called @ideservecouture. He was there and he’s very sassy. But at the same time, he says what he thinks about all collections in a very funny way. I approached him and I was like, “Sorry, you don’t know me, but just wanted to let you know that I’ve been following you and learning a lot about fashion with you. So thank you for that.” He really deserves that, because he really has something to say.
SCHARTZ: Did you have a favorite look from your time in Paris?
MELCHIOR: Obviously, the Balmain outfit, because that wasn’t an obvious choice for me. I remember selecting a few looks with my stylist before traveling. Some weren’t available, and other ones were archived. But when I tried it, “I was like, No, I need to wear this.” I remember saying that I’ve been dressing as a girl, sexy but fresh, short things but not too sexy. And I remember saying to my team, “No, this will be the choice because this is very much like a woman. And it’s time for me dress like a grown-ass woman.” And I loved it. And I came back without any bedbugs.
MELCHIOR: I’m very happy about that.
Hair: Christian Eberhard at MA+ Group.
Makeup: Stephanie Kunz using Schwanen Garten at Total World.
Photography Assistant: Peter Keyser
Location: Studio Henry
Post Production: Nitty Gritty Berlin