Melissa De Sousa on 'Best Man Holiday': This Movie is Resetting The Bar—It's Not Always Some Ghetto Ass Story
Best Man Holiday is finally here and worth the 14 years wait. Every character—good or bad—takes you through a world wind of emotions. One in particular is Shelby, Julian’s ex played by Melissa De Sousa. We hated the she-devil in the first movie with her over–the-top bossy attitude and insensitivity. But the second go at it, she’s a changed woman. While she succeeds financially, she fails in finding the intangibles in life. Instead of completely hating her, we actually sympathize with the bitter ex.
Melissa talked to us about her character’s flaws and all, “I wanted them to see that she was human because a lot of people think she’s one note and she’s just this bitch.” However as the actress revealed, “she has other things going on that people don’t know about and she acts out in this way.”
While Shelby doesn’t mesh well with most of the fictional characters, her real-life persona is close to everyone—even Regina Hall. The cast is one big family and this story is something she thinks would raise the bar on black film storytelling.
Flip the page to see what else she dished on about the cast and the new movie that hits theaters November 15!
Photo Credit: Christian Arias
VIBE Vixen: How has everything been
Melissa De Sousa: It’s been a world wind but it’s been really amazing and everything’s been really fun and I’m just really excited.
I saw the screening and I think this is actually better than the original.
A lot of people are saying that. I have such fond memories towards the first one, so it’s hard; it’s like kids when you have babies, you can’t really like one more than the other.
What made you want to get back on board after being so many years since the first one?
It wasn’t really hard. He’s a good director and he wrote a great script and great character for me [to play]. It’s one of those roles that comes around once in a career but it’s fun and it just jumps off the page. To have a chance to play her again and be even bigger and badder then the first time, of course I would love to play her again.
How similar or different are you to Shelby?
Shelby knows what she wants and she goes after what she wants. I can say I’m like that. I’m very committed to when I want something and going towards it and working for it. She just goes about things in a different way then I would. She’s that inside part of me, or anyone, who gets to say or do whatever she wants and not give a shit about what anyone thinks. I would love to do that every once in a while but I definitely wouldn’t do it her way, you wouldn’t keep to many friends around like that.
You and Regina Hall are enemies in the movie, how are you on set?
We’re buddies. Me, her and Sanaa [Lathan] always go out to eat. When we were in Canada we all were staying in the same building and we would get together and have The Voice parties because it would come on in Canada like four times a day. We would always get together and eat or try not to eat [laughs].
Would you say your chemistry with the cast off screen is what made you guys have great chemistry on the screen?
Yes, totally. When [Malcolm Lee] got us together and asked us to go to dinner and we went it was like seeing old friends and family as well. It was like a family reunion out there. Sometimes you have moments when you’re in a TV series and you have these cast members and things are cool with some people and not cool with others. It’s very rare that you can get nine people together and they all have their own careers in their own right and their own names and still love each other. We more then like each other, we love each other; I really love these people they’re my family. We all get along and sometimes we have minor play fights but nothing ever real.
You can tell.
It’s really real. Terrence and I, he’s like a brother to me. Sometimes he’ll pull my hair and I’ll be like ”Terrence, stop it” and stuff like that. It’s just fun I love them.
On screen you and Terrence have this love hate relationship but you’re very similar.
We always say that, Terrence says he’s the male version of me and I’m the female version of him. It’s like two magnets because we’re the same but it’s like friction. It’s like I’m damned if I’m with him and I’m damned if I’m without him.
Who is the prankster on set?
Regina is hysterical. Obviously you see how many sequels she has, she has like 20 sequels [laughs] coming out. She’s very gifted with comedy and she’s just funny in person. When we were doing our scene when we weren’t getting along it was like “alright stop” because I was going to laugh. She’s naturally funny, definitely the funny girl.
Photo Credit: Christian Arias
Do you like Shelby’s role in the sequel or the original?
I will go with the second movie because I feel like it’s further developed and a more well rounded character. I really wanted them to see that she was human because a lot of people think she’s just this bitch. Even from the first movie, I still built in the back of my mind that she may be a bitch but she’s a bitch for this reason, this reason, and this reason. She has other things going on that people don’t know about and she acts out in this way. But this time you get to see why.
With your character it was like what we seen didn’t need to be said.
Yeah because she doesn’t show her vulnerability in front of others; it really hit her hard because the only reason she was still around these group of people was because of Mia. You heard them say why is she even here, but their sorority sisters, [Mia’s] like her girl. Mia’s like an angel, she keeps this group together.
How is Monica Calhoun?
She’s an angel in real life; she’s just a really kind person. I have not seen someone like this before. I’m like “are you real”? I never see her get angry, snap at anyone, it’s like are you perfect or what. She’s had a lot of challenges in her life as well but she’s always an angel to me. I refer to her as that.
What impact do you think this movie will have for black films and films in general?
I hope it had the same impact it had the first time. I feel like the first time we were seeing a lot more of the stereotypical films, where they have to be dancing and joking. He told a real story, a story that was universal. It didn’t have color to it. When you read the script, if you didn’t know, they didn’t have to be Black. Maybe this coming out again is resetting the bar again, like reminding audience that this is really how a lot of African American’s live. We’re regular people, it’s not always some ghetto ass story. It’s real people and good filmmaking. All these other movies that have come out this year are really good movies but this is an everyday modern story that will remind people that you can have a film that can be enjoyed by everyone.
Are you hoping for a third movie?
Why not? This has to do well though. It’s important that everyone go see it. That’s where they base whether they’re going to make a third one or not but if there’s a calling for it and they ask me to come back I surely wouldn’t hesitate. It’s a special group of people.
If you could define Best Man Holiday in one word, how would you define it?
Roller coaster. You go through the whole gamut of emotions in this movie. You start out on a roller coaster and you’re just riding along and all of a sudden there’s a dip of laughter and all of a sudden there’s a quick drop that you don’t expect. It’s like up again and down again, I think it’s all over the place this movie. It’s unexpected turns, I had some people tell me “I think I know what the secret is” but it’s not always the right one. I think he does a good job by keep us in a surprise.
Photo Credit: Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic