My apologies to Cara Delevigne. She may be losing her title of “best brows” to Melissa Collazo. I don’t think I’ve seen a more spectacular pair. (The shape! The fluffiness!) So of course, I make my admiration known to the actress mere seconds into introductions by blurting out, “You have amazing brows!” She laughs and graciously credits her mother for never letting her touch them. Collazo is serving major beauty inspo on our call, and I’m not just captivated by her defining facial feature and effortless no-makeup makeup look. The way she pulls off a severe bob with curtain bangs is certainly worth noting, too. It’s one of the season’s biggest hair trends, I should add. While her brows are all genetics, the cut, she tells me, is all thanks to her current project, the addicting new show One of Us Is Lying.
Heather Gildroy; Styling: Hilá jacket and pants; Sydney Evan earrings; Sam Edelman shoes
Collazo is back in Los Angeles after spending the summer in New Zealand filming the Peacock series. Based on the New York Times best-selling YA novel of the same name, One of Us Is Lying centers on a strange murder at Bayview High School, in which five students walk into detention and only four come out alive. It’s a classic whodunit mystery that many are billing as The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars. Collazo plays Maeve Rojas, whose older sister Bronwyn is one of the prime suspects. Having spent most of her adolescence confined to a hospital bed battling leukemia, Maeve is the opposite of her valedictorian-bound older sister. She’s a rebellious punk type and brilliant hacker who may have more of a tie to the murder than you think. Collazo connected to the character early on from just the brief description she was given during auditions, but it wasn’t until she booked the job and got the aforementioned haircut that she truly found Maeve.
“I naturally have long hair, no bangs, nothing,” she tells me over Zoom. “Jennifer Morrison directed the pilot, and she emailed me and said, ‘We’re thinking about this haircut for Maeve. What do you think?’ She sent me a picture, and it was Tokio from Money Heist. I had already watched Money Heist, and then Léon: The Professional is one of my favorite movies, and Mathilda from Léon and Tokio from Money Heist were big references for the character style-wise. I’ve always said I will do anything for a job if I think it serves the art, and the haircut just felt right, so I was like, ‘I love it. Let’s do it.’ I chopped it off, and it really turned me into a different person. It gave me the edge that Maeve needed.”
Photo:Heather Gildroy; Styling: Ong-Oaj Pairam dress; Talita London earrings; Sydney Evan ring
That’s not to say Collazo didn’t have her hesitations about the drastic cut at first. But she tells me any fears had to be quickly brushed aside because, if she was going to actually pull off the bold beauty look, she would need to fully commit. “I took a page out of Rihanna’s book where it’s like, ‘If you have enough confidence, it will look good, no matter what it is,’” she says. “If there’s the tiniest bit of insecurity with it, then I’m not serving Maeve. It’s not going to work.”
Serving Maeve also meant getting the wardrobe just right, and Collazo came to the table with a specific vision for her character. She put together mood boards, which included images of Joan Jett and Debbie Harry, and sent them to the costume team ahead of filming. They welcomed her input, and by the time fittings came around, Collazo’s idea of Maeve had fully come to life. “This show really made me feel listened to and catered to,” she says of the collaboration on set. “A big part of the performance is the outfits that I’m wearing—like chunky boots. That changes how she walks. That changes her attitude.”
Photo:Heather Gildroy; Styling: Hilá top and pants; Mahrukh Akuly earrings; Alba shoes
Collazo shot the pilot in Vancouver in late 2019 before COVID brought all productions to a screeching halt. It would be almost a year and a half until filming resumed in New Zealand, but Collazo took that time to really sit with Maeve. She journaled as the character, made Pinterest boards, and put together playlists. But a lot was still unknown about Maeve’s arc. In the book, Maeve is very much a side character, but Collazo was told early on that her role would be much bigger in the show. “I just knew there would be changes to expand on my character,” she tells me. “I had theories, but I had no idea where they were going to go with her. So it was really scary because I was like, ‘What if I have all of these ideas and they take it in a completely different direction?’” Lucky for Collazo, all of the prep work paid off. “I swear I stepped into New Zealand, and once I got my haircut and my costume fitting, I was like, ‘Maeve’s back. We’re good,’” she adds.
Rich character development is a Collazo specialty. In fact, the more challenging a role is, the better. Although she is still early in her professional career, the 21-year-old has been in front of a camera for most of her life. She grew up on news sets with her parents (her mother was the news director at the Latin American station Telemundo) and landed her first gig at age 5 when an entertainment reporter called out sick. She led kid-friendly news segments until she was about 12. At that point, she was inspired by Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana to pursue acting seriously. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, she gets to live a double life. If Hannah Montana can do it, then so can I.’” She got her first agent at 16 and started booking jobs shortly after: a small part on Stranger Things followed by a role in the short-lived TV series Swamp Thing and last year’s horror comedy Freaky.
Photo:Heather Gildroy; Styling: Ivan Young top and skirt; Sydney Evan earrings; Kat Maconie shoes
Her breakout moment, however, is officially here with One of Us Is Lying. The series will, undoubtedly, satisfy the large appetite for buzzy YA murder mysteries while serving as a launchpad for its young ensemble cast. My advice? Don’t sleep on Collazo—or Maeve.
New episodes of One of Us Is Lying are now streaming on Peacock.
Photographer: Heather Gildroy
Photography Assistant: Christian Raices
Stylist: Philippe Uter
Hairstylist: Rena Calhoun
Makeup Artist: Loren Canby