The Unexpected Reason Why Vida's Melissa Barrera Loves Wearing Watches

This is the motivational speech we needed.

Melissa Barrera

“You already have the ‘no,’ so look for the ‘yes,’” quips emerging actress Melissa Barrera. “That is something I live by. If you don’t look for things and fight for them, they aren’t going to knock on your door. You have to do the knocking!”

The 29-year-old’s perseverance seems to be paying off both personally and professionally. Barrera, who wed musician Paco Zazueta earlier this year, has made a name for herself playing Lyn Hernandez, the charming party-girl-gone-woke in Starz’s groundbreaking hit Vida (soon to shoot its third season).

Off the heels of the Vida’s critically acclaimed success, Barrera has landed her biggest role yet in the much-anticipated movie adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s sleeper Broadway hit In the Heights (directed by Crazy Rich Asians filmmaker Jon M. Chu). “I’m so fortunate to be living this experience and to share this story of the Latinx community and the struggle that immigrants go through, but also the joy our people have in our blood — the singing, the dancing, the music, the color and the food,” she explains of the Washington Heights-based musical. “Each day, we feel like we are making cinematic history and that we’ve peaked. Then the next day we end up topping that. It’s been that kind of shoot.”

Melissa Barrera
Michael Kovac/Getty Images

One could say it’s about to be Barrera’s time, so it’s no surprise she has caught the attention of Chanel — a fashion house known for not only dressing Hollywood luminaries like Julianne Moore and Nicole Kidman, but for their sharp track record of engaging talent like Keira Knightley, Kristen Stewart, Lily Collins, and Yara Shahidi long before their household name status.

The charismatic Barrera, whose style lies somewhere between tomboy and girly-girl, is a good fit for the brand that’s regularly drawn to the not-so-average ingénue. “I was a very sporty kid and played basketball from a young age, but as a teen, I suddenly wanted to be more girly,” admits the actress, who is next set to play the title character in a new film version of Carmen, which also stars Jamie Dornan and was directed by Black Swan choreographer (and Mr. Natalie Portman himself) Benjamin Millepied. “Now, I’m more drawn to a sportier style again, but in a more refined way.”

Most recently, Barrera stepped out alongside the likes of Billie Eilish and Poppy Delevingne in Shelter Island to celebrate the new Chanel J12, a modern, self-winding incarnation of the watch just ahead of its 20th anniversary. “I like the elegant and simultaneously athletic vibe of the J12. It’s a watch you can wear on the daily, but it’s also elegant enough to wear on a red carpet,” says Barrera of the sporty Swiss-made ceramic and steel ticker. “I love watches. They are a beautiful reminder that every second you live is one you won’t get back.”

One of Barrera’s most consistently winning qualities is her ability to turn a simple conversation into a more abstract, philosophical exploration. In an exclusive dreamy new video the performer pays tribute to the iconic J12 timepiece. Barrera marks her imminent Hollywood rise (and shoots a few hoops in the process!) as she ruminates on time, memory, and the power of being present.

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