Exclusive: Melonie Diaz Gets Into The "Holiday" Spirit

Melonie Diaz doesn't have kids of her own--"I can't even imagine what that's like!" she tells Latina.com--but she still didn't have to look very far to research her role as Marissa, a single mom caught up in a love triangle, in Nothing Like The Holidays
(out this Friday). In fact, all the 24-year-old Nuyorican actress had
to do was check in with her BFFs for some tips: "With my girlfriends,
it's like their kids are their world."

Melonie plays the ex-novia of Jesse (Freddy Rodriguez), a soldier who just returned from Iraq to his hometown of Chicago. But a lot's changed in three years: his family (played by John Leguizamo, Elizabeth Peña, Alfred Molina, Vanessa Ferlito and Luis Guzman)
is dealing with a whole mess of issues in the midst of the holiday
season. And Marissa herself has moved on...or has she? Melonie spoke to
us about her new movie role, what it was like being part of an
almost-all Latino ensemble cast, and how holidays are celebrated in the
Diaz family.

We're psyched that you're in the first-ever Latin holiday film. Was making the movie just as exciting for you?

Yeah, we were all pretty fortunate to be a part of this film. You have
people like Alfred Molina, who’s been doing this forever, you have Freddy, you
have Luis --all these very eclectic people working together. Being at the
premiere last week was really nice. They’re like my homies! And I’m
obsessed with Vanessa Ferlito. I think I might have a girl crush on her.

The dress you wore to the premiere was so cute.

Really? Thank you! The designer was Katy Rodriguez. I’ve actually been
thinking more about dressing up and how clothing should reflect who you
are. I wanted something that was classy but sexy. I don’t know if it
always works out, but I try.

How did you tackle this role?

I thought it would be interesting to play a young woman with subtle
strength--she doesn't make the typical moves. Freddy [Rodriguez] and I
talked about how everyone has one ex-boyfriend or girlfriend that they
just can't kick. But sometimes you have to put yourself aside and take
care of your kid.

You're a boricua city girl yourself, so how did the film's backdrop resonate with you?

Being in Humboldt Park felt really familiar to me. These people opened
up their homes to us! During the parranda
scene, I remember going into one house where the mom was letting
everyone hold her baby...the baby was just going from hand to hand, and
I was like, 'That is so typical!' That's a really awesome memory for

We noticed that you danced a little salsa in the movie, too.

Oh no...how was I?

Good! We're just wondering how you picked up those moves.

I mean, you knooow...my Dad's a really great dancer, so I guess I got it from him [laughs].

What projects are you working on now?

Well it's kind of weird because I worked so much last year, but right
now I'm in the process of looking for work. It's a strange time in the
industry. But I did just get attached to a project with Damian Lewis [from NBC's Life], and that's supposed to start up in April sometime. We'll see.

This is purely hypothetical, but since they're making a movie based on Broadway's In The Heights, would you ever consider being a part of that?

Yeah, actually that would be fun...but I don't sing, so that would be a
problem! But I can do interpretive dance, you know what I mean?

Totally...we can see it now. So what's a holiday celebration like in the Diaz family?

It's boisterous, it's funny...it's a lot of varied emotions. Sometimes
we rip out the photo albums, and we always take a lot of
pictures...Jesus Christ, we take so many pictures. My sister loves the

And your favorite holiday food and drink?

I like pasteles, and I like beer.

Yum. Lastly, are you making resolutions for the New Year?

I used to, but unfortunately I usually break them. So I'd say my
resolution this year is to try to stay true to the things that I want
from myself.

Bonus: click here for Melonie's all-time favorite holiday flicks!