Melissa Paulino not only came from humble beginnings, she started her life with nowhere to go but up. Her father, Marlu Paulino, was a US Army veteran who returned from Kuwait not exactly the same man who left his pregnant wife and year old son over a year earlier. He suffered from delusions and schizophrenia and was such a violent threat to his wife and family that Melissa’s mother, Elsie, was forced to divorce him before she was born. Even in the few years after her birth, Melissa and her brother, Dennis, were caught in traumatic situations in which the police were forced to intervene for their safety. Melissa and her brother formed an unusually strong bond because of it.
As she grew up with her mother, three siblings (including a younger brother, Levi, and sister, Lehua), and eventually step-father, Zack, Melissa developed a strong yearning for the escape and inspiration that music provided. Melissa found that she had a strong, natural singing voice and dancing ability, and would sing and dance to the music that she grew to love.
At 13 years of age, Melissa would watch Kimora Lee Simmons in her television program, “Life in the Fab Lane,” and be amazed at how tall and beautiful she was. Melissa was embarrassed to be tall for her age and was impressed by Simmons’ confidence. Later, Melissa became inspired by Tyra Banks, as well, because she was a tall, dark-skinned model and actress who believed everyone was beautiful in their own way. The desire to become a top model was born.
In October of 2012, Melissa was convinced by her family and friends to join a beauty pageant, the Miss Teen Hawaii 2012 Holiday Queen Pageant. This went against ALL of her instincts because Melissa, despite being out-going and friendly, had always been a timid girl inside who did not like to neither take sides nor do any type of public speaking. One of the main reasons that she agreed to enter the pageant in the first place was that there were no personal or on-stage interviews.
Melissa described the abject fear that she had just before going on stage for the first time, but when she heard the screams and cheers from all of her family and friends she said “Hell yah!” and proceeded to win the title of Miss Teen Hawaii 2012. Her title also brought her to the attention of her eventual manager, Rick Bernico of Hawaii Profiles, who was the official photographer and graphic designer for the pageant.
The two connected a few months later and started working together on her dreams to become a model. After a number of photo shoots and training sessions, Melissa was submitted to and accepted by Wilhelmina – Hawaii, one of the top modeling agencies in Hawaii.
Melissa’s title also opened the door for her to be invited by Jerry Wayne and Bernico, to Los Angeles to represent Hawaii for the Date for the Cure non-profit organization which was producing a 4-star, gala extravaganza fundraising event for the Susan G. Komen LA County Foundation at the Universal Sheraton Hotel in order to raise money for research towards and bring awareness to breast cancer.
The Date for the Cure was held on Saturday, February 16, 2013 and feature entertainers from American Idol, Dance with the Stars, guest host Kevin Nealon, and exotic fashion show by A.Che` Swimwear, and over a dozen beauty queens including the reigning Miss Universe Olivia Culpo, the reigning Miss USA Nana Meriwether, and, of course, Melissa Paulino.
Melissa was delightfully surprised to receive a tremendous amount of attention from movie stars, television stars, producers, CEOs, GMs, filthy rich and clean rich people alike. A number of people even took the time to tell her that she was the prettiest girl at the event.
“The Los Angeles County Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure is dedicated to saving lives and ending breast cancer forever by empowering people, ensuring quality care for all and energizing science to find the cures.” Fifty percent of the proceeds from Date for the Cure would go Susan G. Komen LA County and Melissa was proud to be a part of it. In fact, Melissa will be appointed the Aloha Ambassador for Date for the Cure – Hawaii when and if the Hawaii event takes place.
Melissa now has dreams to not only become a top model and to be published in major magazines, but she now has a strong desire to become a successful actress. One of her dreams is to be on Hawaii Five-0 with her actor crush, Alex O’Loughlin! Melissa also loves long showers, listening to music, and VAMPIRES.