Published: Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Photo courtesy of Prodigy Talent
Lost and found · Sophomore comparative literature and political science major Melissa Farman balances academics with an acting career.
“I wrote this paper on an airplane the morning it was due. I just got it back today,” Melissa Farman muttered with an expected dose of trepidation familiar to any student who has ever crammed for a paper. Frequently writing papers in midair isn’t quite normal for a college student, but it is a common occurrence for Farman, who is balancing school, a social life and an up-and-coming acting career.
Farman, a sophomore majoring in comparative literature and political science, was most recently featured as young Danielle Rousseau on Season 5 of the hit ABC show “Lost.”
And as a young actress, Farman is only getting started.
Farman, who was born in America and raised in Paris, grew up performing, and eventually saw theater and acting as a necessary outlet for her unique interests.
“It wasn’t a conscious decision,” said Farman, casually twisting a black, dangly earring as she spoke. Farman’s mother enrolled her in acting after Farman kept imagining a new character for each day of elementary school.
“The theater explores facets of personality. There was only one thing: acting,” said Farman of her stumble into an acting career.
Today, while enrolled in the Thematic Option program at USC, Farman is beginning to take what began as a childhood fascination with imagination and make it into an adult career while pursuing a college degree.
An international student, Farman recognizes her upbringing presents her with various advantages, both academically and professionally. In fact, on “Lost,” she spoke exclusively French.
“When I was younger, it was a challenge fitting in because I was different. But now it’s an advantage, being culturally aware,” said Farman.
Farman gently smiles, realizing that it’s not all bad being the “American girl” in Paris and the “French girl” in Los Angeles.
“The awareness helps me at school, even in writing essays. France takes a much more circular approach to writing,” said Farman.
For Farman, USC was an obvious choice for school because it allowed her to continue pursuing acting alongside academics. Additionally, living in a cosmopolitan city like Los Angeles presented endless opportunities for exploration, one of Farman’s hobbies in her free time.
“Paris is a city of tradition, but Los Angeles is one of transition. I like going to see that live culture,” said Farman, who admits she is an acoustic music junkie.
With a clear awareness of her surroundings and knowledge of international approaches to learning, it is no surprise that Farman chose to study political science and comparative literature. And while school is important to her, Farman’s face lights up when she discusses acting and her current role on “Lost.”
“I’m a freak when it comes to work. I’d never seen ‘Lost,’ but it was my first professional gig and I felt at home from the start,” said Farman.
Portraying a young, pregnant, gun-toting Frenchwoman was a welcome challenge for Farman, who had fun working in Hawaii, sharing scenes with cast member Daniel Dae Kim.
“I was a tomboy growing up, but the pregnant belly they had me wear was fun. But I definitely had some back pains. I have a new respect for my mother,” Farman joked.
Appearing on the show for three episodes this season, Farman’s run around the jungles of Hawaii was anything but typical. Because the show is highly popular and secretive (the series premiere raked in 11.4 million viewers), Farman didn’t know who she would be portraying until the day before shooting began.
Farman was drawn to the role, and although she only acted in three episodes, she noticed the show’s unique, earthy atmosphere.
“It felt grounded. The jungle was more natural,” said Farman.
With a guest role on a hit television show under her belt, Farman is eager to explore different areas of her creativity through future acting projects.
“I’d like to liberate different facets of personality. Anything with challenging, diverse characters and good complex stories,” said Farman, who would like to pursue French film in particular.
With so much on her plate, however, Farman is secure in where she is today: a college student living in Los Angeles, pursuing what makes her happy. The ominous future, which hangs in the distance with so many options, poses few concerns for the upcoming actress.
“10 years down the line I don’t make goals like that. I’m focusing on present propensities. I’m setting up for appreciating the journey,” said Farman.
With so many possibilities and passions, the journey Farman mentions sounds promising, and sitting back to enjoy it sounds like it might just be a great decision.