It is two days before her 30th birthday when Melissa Campbell drops by MYEPPO office and studio for an interview and shoot. We surprise her with a birthday cake, which she quickly uploads on to her Instagram (@heymelbelle). With 25K followers and growing, Melissa’s popularity – as an actor and social media persona – is undeniable.
Born in Newcastle, Australia, Melissa left the city at the age of five and grew up mostly here in Kuala Lumpur. “I don’t feel like I’m Australian at all because I grew up in Malaysia,” says Melissa with a laugh.
After high school at Sri KDU in KL, the budding thespian moved to New York at the age of 18 to pursue her education at The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. After five years there, Melissa moved to Los Angeles for three years to go after bigger dreams as an actress.
Having been away for eight years, the Scottish-Malaysian decided to return to KL as she had started to miss home and family. “I wasn’t sure if it was necessary for me to settle down in the United States. I started to miss my family and I was getting burned out.”
More well known as a child actress who made commercials, Melissa’s biggest claim to fame was the role in Hollywood epic ‘Anna And The King’, when she was cast as the little Princess Fa Ying opposite Chow Yun-Fat and Jodie Foster.
“It’s enforced me in terms of what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” she recalls of her experience filming the 1999 movie. “I remember everything that happened – from the casting process to the end, until the movie premiere. I was very aware, into it and in control of what I wanted to do at eight years old. Everything I did was carefully thought out, and it was my decision and my parents always asked me if I was sure about it and yes, I was all in. But, being on that scale at that early age, I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
Melissa can next be seen in the new season of ‘Keluarga Baha Don’ on Viu. She also stars in Viu’s ‘Kopitiam Double Shot’. The reboot of the popular Malaysian sitcom ‘Kopitam’ sees Melissa as Seleb, childhood bestie of Alia (Sharifah Amani), a newly-retrenched millennial who runs the coffee shop.
Here, the soon-to-be-married Melissa shares with MYEPPO her plans for 2021 and beyond.
How has the pandemic and lockdown affected you?
A lot of work projects were delayed; everything came to a standstill. Also, my wedding has been postponed twice, from January to June and now December.
What was the biggest lesson learnt?
That you don’t have to live up to this pressure to always be busy. When we are younger, we sometimes get validation from others when we are younger, it helped me to transition to a phase where I don’t need external validation and focus on my own internal growth. I got to realign my focus and goals.
As a public figure, how important is social media to you?
It is a useful tool for me to keep in touch with people, especially during the lockdown. I have been having fun with Tik Tok and getting to know my audience, while connecting with followers and other creatives on social media.
What is your beauty regime like?
I do have a set routine; in the morning, I use cleanser, toner, essence, moisturiser, eye cream, sunscreen and finally makeup. At night, I make sure to remove my makeup completely and use a different set of products as well.
As you enter your 30s, has skincare become more important to you?
Absolutely! I wish I cared more about it in my early 20s. Now I am starting to look into anti-ageing stuff.
How do you self-care at home?
This year I decided to focus more on spirituality, on seeking calmness and zen in my life. Home is my space to de-stress and relax. When I wake up, I ease into my morning by switching on the humidifier and making a cup of coffee. As a way to relax, I do my skincare routine. Working out is important. When I was younger, I exercised to achieve a certain type of body. Now my goal is to let loose and focus more on wellbeing.
What is your advice to young people who want to follow in your footsteps?
Whatever your ambition is, focus is definitely important. You need to pursue your goals with passion and be really determined; passion is everything. You have to put in the legwork and knock on as many doors as possible.
International Women’s Day (March 8) is coming up. What is your message to women?
Don’t feel pressured by society. Whether your goal is to be an entrepreneur or stay-at-home mum, do whatever makes you fulfilled and happy in life. Invest more in your female relationships; they are just as important as the relationship to the men in your life.
Photography and video: Aqalili Azizan & Quek Chun Leng
Makeup: Leon Tan, using Kevyn Aucoin