This Is Us breakout star Melanie Liburd is mastering more than just an American accent.
Anyone who’s seen Melanie Liburd’s performance as Zoe Baker—Beth’s cousin, Kevin’s paramour—on This Is Us might need a beat to adjust to the fact that off-camera, she speaks with her native British accent. “I’ve only done a couple of jobs in my own accent,” she says with a laugh. “It’s all been American, but I love the challenge!”
Indeed, Liburd, 31, thrives on increased degrees of difficulty. She’d fallen for acting as a child but pursued a more “proper job” studying fashion in London before realizing she desperately missed performing. Her obsessive theatergoing inspired her to go back to drama school, she says. “Training was the most terrifying thing I ever did... and the best thing I ever did!”
Her agent saw plentiful opportunities for her in less hidebound Hollywood, where she swiftly found additional reps and became besotted by LA. “Here, people are more open to newer talent,” she says. “I was fresh off the boat [and] got a really wonderful response, so I just took the opportunity.”
Next up is Brian Banks, the biopic of the NFL player falsely accused of rape in college and wrongfully imprisoned for years before overturning his conviction and rebuilding his football career. “It’s a really, really important story to tell, especially for young black males,” Liburd says. Beyond that, the Anglo stunner has plans “to work more, to tell more stories about women, to tell more true stories,” she says. “I don’t rule anything out… I love this job. I absolutely love it.”