Melanie Chandra

New York / Los Angeles


I'm a daughter to immigrant parents who got their start in America by humble means. As a young child, I was overcome with passion to become the best version of myself - I dreamt of becoming an international actress, finding true love, traveling the world, and making a large impact on my community.

My early years didn't show much promise in those arenas.  I was terrified to speak up in class. I was a socially awkward, introverted girl who had no clue how to talk to boys. I was that "Indian girl" in an all white school and was constantly being judged because of my skin color and hairy arms... We couldn't afford to travel or take exotic vacations, minus a few road trips through endless cornfields leading to Wisconsin.


I had this drive in me to do more, to expand my and my family's opportunities and world view as we knew it. I was told at an early age that I should pursue engineering. That's what a good Indian girl does, and it can lead to financial stability for the family. I put aside my dream of becoming an actress. I focused on school and got accepted to my dream school, Stanford, where I pulled countless all-nighters to receive my Mechanical Engineering degree. Along the way, I started practicing karate, religiously. By the age of 14, I had my 2nd degree black belt. I still didn't know how to talk to guys, but I at least knew I could take them in a fight. Karate was my vehicle to travel around the world, by competing in international tournaments.

I completed my degree, moved to NYC, and started earning a real income for my family. I was thrown into the yuppie scene, working as a management consultant.  During my first weekend in The Big Apple,  I bumped into a guy who I'd met years ago in college. It was awkward, since he had asked me out back then and I had said "no." It's interesting how time changes your perspective on people. This time, I said "yes." 

After a year or so of working in corporate America, I made the decision to leave my job and explore that childhood dream: acting. It was a huge life change to say the least. Parents were concerned. I knew nothing about the entertainment industry. There was no 'right answer' or formula to succeed. But I was determined to make it happen. 

Years later, I'm very grateful to say that I'm a full-time actor. I also co-founded a non-profit called Hospital for Hope with some college friends. I married that guy from college. He's my husband, but also my best friend. We make it a point to travel as much as possible. 

There is still so much I want to accomplish, experience, and share with the world. I do believe that one's goal can be to realize their fullest potential. Almost anything is possible, if you dream big, focus, and work hard.