Melody Marie Tavitian-Parra is an American actress and model. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Parra demonstrated a talent for acting early on. She began acting in school plays at the age of 6 and continued throughout high school where she won the school's Best Actress Gold Medal, the Musical Theatre Director's Dream Actress Award, and the Best Film Actress Tommy at John Marshall High in Los Feliz. She made her professional stage debut during her senior year in What's Shakein? (2009) at the Greek Theatre in the play's lead role. In 2009, Parra was admitted to UCLA with a full merit scholarship. While pursuing a dual BA, Parra joined the university's prestigious ACT III Theatre Ensemble where she played lead and large supporting roles in classics such as Othello, Oedipus Rex, Macbeth, and The Fall. In 2012 she graduated UCLA at the age of 20, receiving her BA in English Literature and Spanish. She made her feature film debut the following year cast in the lead role of Stella in the indie film drama City of Quartz (2013). The film premiered at the BLOW-UP Arthouse International Film Festival. That same year she was cast in the comedy With this Ring (2013) where she played a supporting role in both the play and its on-screen adaptation. Parra's other films include the crime drama Here in the East (2014), Fronteras (2015), Ouroboros (2015), and Edge (2015). Both Here in the East and Edge won Best Film in the 2015 Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival and the 2015 San Diego Film Festival, respectively.
Amidst her film and theatre work, Parra's modeling debut came in 2014. Parra was one of five models handpicked by Tyra Banks to star in the launch of her new cosmetics line, TYRA Beauty. Additional modeling work followed and Parra was cast as the female model in the official music video for KSHMR-Jammu which hit the #1 spot on Beatport's 'Progressive House Top 100' Charts on June 22, 2015 and remained in the top 20 over the next three weeks. In the latter part of 2015, Parra worked with Irina Garaicau and acclaimed photographer/production designer Cristobal Valecillos. Valecillos chose Parra as the female model for his recreation of Jacques-Louis David's The Death of Marat. Parra's modeling landed the artist an invitation to the 2016 LA Art Show where he selected Parra's portrait as one of only three pieces to be showcased. The model's portrait is now for sale at Timothy Yarger Fine Art Gallery in Beverly Hills.
In 2015, Parra was cast as the series lead in the new sci-fi black comedy Jane Next Door (2016) by the series creator/director RG Gazbani. The show is currently in pre-production.
Parra was born in Los Angeles, California to Sonia Parra, an entrepreneur; and Mike Tavitian, an accountant. The eldest of two children, she has one younger brother, David. Parra's mother is of Mexican/Ecuadorian ancestry and her father is French Lebanese. Parra's mother married a holistic dentist in 2010.
Parra was raised by her mother in Silver Lake and grew up extremely close to both her mother and younger brother, brought up Roman Catholic. From a young age, Parra demonstrated promise in the arts, participating in piano, dance, chorus, and gymnastics while attending elementary school.
Parra attended Micheltorena Elementary School and Thomas Starr King Middle School in Los Angeles, California. She graduated from John Marshall High School in 2009. Beginning at the age of 6, she acted in many school plays, moving on to musical theatre and student films during high school. While in high school, Parra played lead and large supporting roles on both platforms. During her musical runs, Parra was given the solo "I'm a Calm" from the musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and also performed numbers from Chicago, A Chorus Line, Wicked, Into the Woods, and Hairspray for which the school's musical theatre director awarded her Director's Dream Actress. The student film she starred in entitled Damaged (2009) won her Best Actress at the school's 2009 Spring Film Festival, along with Best Screenplay and Best Film. She also received the school's Best Actress Gold Medal upon graduating. While still in high school, Parra made her professional stage debut at the Greek Theatre in Los Feliz and also performed at Barnsdall Park.
In 2009 at age 17, Parra was admitted to UCLA with a full merit scholarship. She pursued a dual BA degree in English Literature and Spanish with a concentration in world literature. While earning her BA, Parra also joined UCLA's prestigious Act III Theatre Ensemble where she acted in lead and supporting roles in various Greek tragedies and Shakespearean classics, including Oedipus Rex, Macbeth, Othello, among many others.
During her university studies, Parra received her own column at UCLA's LaGente Magazine entitled Señorita Chique. Parra was the column's creator, writing weekly about the influences of Latin culture on international fashion/trends. Parra also created the column's artwork which won the UCLA's Westwind 2011 art contest.
Parra graduated UCLA early cum laude at the age of 20.
At the age of 2, Parra's mother was approached by a photographer who commented Parra had the spark of an actress and expressed interest in photographing her and helping her acquire representation. Preferring that her daughter be of age where she could make the conscious decision to pursue an acting career, Parra's mother thanked the man but declined. Over the next few years, Parra's mother was approached repeatedly by different talent scouts on several occasions. Once Parra expressed interest in acting at the age of 6, her mother looked further into the possibility but preferred her child not be put to work at such a young age while encouraging her daughter to pursue plays at school and community theatre.
As Parra's interest and talent grew, this led to lead roles in school plays and musicals, along with Parra's professional stage debut at the Greek Theatre while attending high school and theatre performances at Barnsdall Park. While pursuing her BA, Parra continued developing her craft at UCLA's ACT III Theatre Ensemble. Shortly after graduation Parra made her film debut in the indie drama City of Quartz (2013) which premiered as an official selection at the 2016 BLOW-UP Chicago Arthouse International Film Festival.
After filming City of Quartz, Parra was cast in either lead or large supporting roles in the films With this Ring (2013), Here in the East (2014), Fronteras (2015), Ouroboros (2015), and Edge (2015). Both Here in the East and Edge won Best Film Awards in the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival and San Diego Film Festival, respectively. Parra also received her television debut in 2014 with a small supporting role in Awkward Avenger. Toward the end of 2015, Parra was cast in the lead role in a sci-fi pilot Jane Next Door. City of Quartz also made its premiere in 2016 at the BLOW-UP Chicago Arthouse International Film Festival.
Parra has also gained recognition for her modeling work in print campaigns with Tyra Banks Beauty, Cristobal Valecillos at the 2016 LA Art Show and as the female model in several music videos. In 2015, she was cast in Michelle Phan's Introducing Icon, the band VUM's Katrine and KSHMR Jammu which topped the charts for three weeks in a row. With her modeling campaigns, local awards, and her films making festival rounds, Parra's recognition is growing. Parra continues acting and modeling, focusing her career on film and tv. She has also expressed her love of musicals and plans on revisiting that stage in the near future.