Melissa Fumero speaks on her journey as an actress, her foray into directing and serendipitously becoming a mom as she removes her makeup for ET's Unfiltered series.
Way before landing her breakthrough role as Amy Santiago on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Fumero was a theatre kid who grew up in New Jersey.
Fumero found her passion for performing at the age of ten after seeing a Broadway show for the first time. She began to take dance and acting classes at a theatre school in her town where she continued to be enrolled until she graduated from high school and headed to the city to attend NYU to study acting.
The brunette beauty reflected on the welcoming, comforting feeling she experienced while attending theatre classes. She felt most at home and enjoyed being in an environment where students were genuinely interested in excelling in performance rather than focusing on physical appearances as a teen.
"We were there more to just express ourselves and I think that was part of the reason I latched onto it so hard because I guess I felt there I was more than [my face]," Fumero told ET. "Especially when I felt like I was good at these things. And I wanted to get better and I wanted to train and wanted to push myself and challenge myself, those were much more appealing to me than the box I felt like everyone else was maybe trying to put me in."
Fumero also expresses she was lucky to have parents who supported her career choice. As Cuban immigrants, they wanted their daughter to have the freedom to work towards her dream.
"I remember towards the end of NYU I did a play in a theater festival in New York and my parents came to see it. And afterwards my dad said, 'This is what I love to watch you do the most. You're a beautiful dancer and you're great in musicals, but I love to watch you act more than anything.' And I'm pretty sure I cried 'cause I don't think he'd ever [actually] articulated it. And I was like, 'Oh they like really have my back in this'."
On her last day of exams, Fumero booked her first gig on soap opera One Life to Live, in which she played Adriana from 2004 to 2008. She met her husband actor David Fumero on set.
In 2013, the actress starred opposite Andy Samberg in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which is currently in its sixth season and now airing on NBC after it was cancelled by FOX in May 2018.
Fumero unexpectedly became pregnant with her son during the filming of its third season, where fortuitous timing came into play.
"So we got a surprise pregnancy that weirdly timed out brilliantly where my due date was two weeks after we're supposed to wrap Brooklyn Nine-Nine," she said. "So we felt like OK this is meant to be. This feels very serendipitous. We were, after we got over our initial shock, we were very, very excited."
Coincidentally, on the day her son was born she got the news that the show was picked up for a fourth season.
"I was like, I have a job, a baby and a job! This is the best day ever!"
Continuing to ride the success of her hit comedy show, Fumero started to become interested on working behind the camera. After directing a web series and shadowing, Fumero directed an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine for the first time, which aired last week.
"It was like to do it for the first time in this like super loving and supportive environment was incredible because I felt even more free," Fumero shared. "And it was one of the most creative and collaborative experiences that I've ever had.
"And I'm so grateful that they gave me the opportunity to go for it because I found out that I really, really love it and I want to do it more," she added. "And I hope to direct more on the show. I hope to maybe direct other shows."
Achieving such a milestone is what makes Fumero feel the most beautiful, she explained.
"I think for me I feel most beautiful when I've accomplished something really challenging. And that can be a crazy workout or directing an episode of television. And then on the other spectrum, I think I feel the most beautiful sometimes like in the morning, you know in like pajamas with my son when he's being like adoring and hugging me and my husband's looking at me like I'm the most beautiful thing he's ever seen. And it's like you're being enveloped and wrapped in so much love and that can make you feel really beautiful."
Watch our full interview with Fumero in the video above and watch more Unfiltered episodes ahead: