The Final Wish star opens up about going from business school to Hollywood actress

Paramount Pictures Special Screening Of "Downsizing" - Arrivals
Credit: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Melissa Bolona isn’t exactly like most actresses with a flourishing movie career.

The New Jersey-native, whose father is Peruvian and mother is American, says she’d always entertained the idea of acting for a living but never thought it was one of those things that could actually happen.

“I have no family in the industry,” says Bolona, 29. “I never thought of it as a viable option. School was always a priority in my family.”

In fact, it wasn’t until she was studying business abroad in Paris—she graduated from Pace university with a degree in International Marketing—that she thought it was something she might consider trying. “Most students my age were taking a year off to travel, and I just thought, I’m going to take a year off to try and be a an actress,” she says.

She never expected it to stick, but soon after going on auditions she was landing roles in creepy horror films like The Neighbor and Val Kilmer’s The Super.

Next up? Starring in Lin Shaye’s horror film The Final Wish (out Jan. 24).

RELATED: Chrissy Metz Talks About Being More Excited to See Lady Gaga

“I consider it freelance,” she says of acting. “There are so many highs and lows. Every victory you celebrate. I keep myself grounded because you can’t get your hopes up. If something sticks, you have to handle it with gratitude and keep moving forward.”

As for why she tends to steer toward horror roles?

“It’s fun when the role is dark. I just shot a movie called Murder at the Mansion, and it was unsuspectingly very, very dark. I loved doing that. Of course doing Year of Spectacular Men with Lea Thompson and her daughters was great because I was part of the awesome family while we shot, and everyone was so passionate about it.”

Still, she wouldn’t say no to one specific career move: “I’d love to be on a hit TV show. When you work on films, people become your family and then you part ways, but I think being part of a show with a long life span would be cool because your family wouldn’t be leaving you. And how great to be documented throughout the years, to watch everyone grow together?”

Bolona says she doesn’t think she’ll ever say she’s “made it,” but she does admit that there are perks to having her Screen Actors Guild (SAG) card. “A while ago I was trying to board a plane to Nashville out of LAX, and I didn’t have my ID or passport. But I did have my Screen Actors Guild card and they let me through. I thought, this is such a Hollywood moment—boarding a plane with my SAG card!”