Melissa Pastrana, Director/Producer, Performer, Choreographer, Writer, and Published Model was born in December 1981 in the city of Queens, New York but she lived in Miami Beach, Florida majority of her life. Melissa Pastrana grew up with a big artistic family; Her grandfather was a poet, parents were competitive disco dancers and brother, Jason Pastrana, who was an artist for Disney and currently producing Marvel and gaming art for animation projects. As a young child she began her artistic career performing in local events, within a few years, she had already appeared in six Star- Styled Dancewear Magazines as a professional child model with former Pussy Cat Doll, Jessica Sutta and had been invited to appear in TV shows such as Sabado Gigante on Univision Network and Star Search. Her early performances were with Walt Disney Productions and begun receiving her earliest ballet training under artistic directors, Tony Catanzaro and Lizette Piedra of Ballet Academy of Miami. In 1996, while performing at the Belvoir Terrace Summer Arts Program, Melissa was favorited by four-time Tony Award Winner, Jerry Zaks for her musical theater and acting appeal.
During her undergraduate, she was also given a full scholarship to train with the world-renowned Miami City Ballet School for five years under the directions of Edward Villella, who worked with George Balanchine himself and won the National Medal of Arts and professional instructors Nancy Raffa, Jimmy Gamonet and Violette Verdi.
Pastrana continued her professional training at the New World School of the Arts/University of Florida in Musical Theater and Dance/Choreography where she received a BFA degree and became a professional performing artist mastering Vaganova and Neo-classical ballet styles, Jose Limon and Martha Graham modern techniques, Afro-Caribbean, Jazz Funk, Ballroom dancing and Hip-Hop dance styles, to name a few. Pastrana was selected for "The Search for the Next Pussy Cat Doll" music group through the final cuts and performed for the Television judges on "So You Think You Can Dance." During her early college years, she was awarded the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Award for her exceptional community service work with underprivileged children.
Beginning in 2004, Pastrana performed with the Florida Grand Opera where she appeared as the principal dancer in "Samson Et Dalila" and was cast as actor/dancer in "Turandot", "Aida", "Manon Lescaut", and "La Traviata". While continuing her choreography and dance career of 20 years, and athletic endeavors, stunt choreography in short films, she continued additional multidisciplinary training such as "Iaido" Japanese Swordsmanship Martial Arts and receiving her first rank at the Institute of Budo Studies, while training in "Kendo", "Jiu-Jitsu" with the Valente Brothers and at Florida International University, armed Russian Systema Martial Arts by Alexandr Popeskou, Yoga and Pilates. Her martial arts training inspired her to produced abroad in Japan, a documentary on Samurai History "Lethal Dance" because she wanted to combine her dance with martial arts.
During the year 2011-2013. Melissa Pastrana has appeared in three seasons of EstrellaTV, "Mi Sueño Es Bailar", Spanish-language Television Network (with a similar format to "Dancing with the Stars") based out of Los Angeles, California where she was the Performer/Dance Partner who Instructed Latin celebrities how to dance. Pastrana succeeded in turning her comedian, non-dancing partner "Don Cheto" into becoming the winning champions of the First Season by 4 Million fan electronic and telephone votes nationwide.
After winning, Pastrana appeared in numerous magazines and newspaper interviews and publications such as People Magazine en Espanol featured multiple times, Miami New Times, LA Times, Wedding Style Magazine Germany, Huffington Post, Periodico USA, Danza Hoy, El Reportero Las Vegas, Variedades, Excelsior OC, Yahoo News, Noticias 62, Estrellas Hoy, En Vivo, Diario de El Paso, El Impacial, Lawndale News, Brigitte Magazine Germany, San Antonio Newspaper, El Reportero Nacional, Vida en el Valle, Que Buena Radio, Quinceañera Magazine where she shares her behind-the-scenes experiences with the TV productions, celebrities, and fans.
After her contract ended with Estrella TV/Liberman Broadcasting in Burbank, California, she decided to dive into film acting full time and was in several short films in California and Florida, such as "Plotted Plants', co-staring with Oscar Nominated actor Said Faraj among others smaller budget films.
Pastrana inspires many people to change their lives and motivating followers everywhere as she encourages a healthy active lifestyle. in a pre-qualifying competition for "American Ninja Warrior" in 2015. She also supports visual and theater arts attending and sponsoring events by local artists at Art Basel, Miami City Ballet, and Actor's Playhouse on Miracle Mile, The Knight Foundation, Film Festivals, Press Interviews, Premiers, and is an avid animal lover. Pastrana was asked to be a speaker at the largest Women's Economic Forum in India and is a supporter of Women's Rights such as One Billion in Rising.
In 2017, during graduate school, Melissa Pastrana was the first female ever to receive a Master of Fine Arts degree in Film Production/Filmmaking from New York Film Academy South Beach, which was happened to be right after Hurricane Irma hit. Pastrana was not only endorsed and known for her resilient producing skills but also she was also phrased for being a well rounded performing artist that could bring different elements to the film such as choreography, acrobatics, singers, dancers and many rare talents. Inspired at that time by "American Horror Stories", she wrote, directed, produced her first horror film called "The Juggler". Some of her instructors and mentors during film school were Emmy Winner Miguel Parga and Hershal Faber who was nominated for the Academy Nicholl Fellowship Award among others.
In 2019 she was hired as a producer for Faena Theater, Miami Beach where she merged her stage and film experience with a live audience.