Scream VI Star Melissa Barrera "Grateful" Her First Big Film Was a Box Office Flop

These days, Melissa Barrera is best known for playing Sam Carpenter in Scream (2022) and Scream VI, but the actor's first starring film role was playing Vanessa in Jon M. Chu's In the Heights. While the movie was mostly loved by all – earning a 94% critics score and 94% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes – it didn't have much success at the box office. The musical only earned $45.1 million and it cost $55 million to make. Of course, the low turnout for the film is likely due to the fact that the movie was released on HBO Max on the same day as its theatrical release. During a recent interview with PEOPLE, Barrera admitted she's grateful for how things turned out with In the Heights

"It really affected me," Barrera explained. "[But] it also taught me a huge lesson – that I have no control over what happens when a movie comes out or when a show comes out. The only thing I have control over is my experience and my feelings while making it and if I'm proud of it. I cannot let the stars not aligning, or whatever is happening with the world, take that away from me."

She added, "Imagine if [In the Heights] had been a success and everything had been incredible and it made a billion dollars at the box office – and then my next movie flopped. That would have been, I think, harder... I'm so grateful that my life has been exactly as it has been." 

She added of landing the role, "I am a firm believer in manifesting things into existence, and In the Heights was one of those things ... That's the show where I belong – the first time that I ever saw people that looked like me on a Broadway stage."

Did Melissa Barrera Change the Scream VI Script?

Scream VI follows Barrera's Sam and how the Internet has turned her into a villain, blaming her for the murders from the previous film. As Sam struggles with being the daughter of a serial killer, it's her relationship with her sister that keeps her grounded throughout the new film. Turns out, Barrera spoke with directors Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin about making sure Sam's story was told correctly. 

"So the script changed a lot from the first script that I got to the movie that we made," Barrera shared with Collider. "It was, I want to say, completely different. And we had a few sit downs, Matt and Tyler and I, and then with [screenwriters] Jamie [Vanderbilt] and Guy [Busick] because I really, really wanted to make sure that we explored Sam's psyche more and we got to know her deeply because that was a reason that I wanted to play Sam in the first place. The reason that I was attracted to her in Scream 5 was like, 'Oh my god, there's so much potential here. Where is she going to go?' And I wanted to make sure that in the sixth movie, we saw more layers to her."

Barrera continued, "It wasn't just the tough girl, the protective older sister that has all these walls up. I was like, 'What happens when those walls break down?' And we didn't get a chance to see that in the fifth one, so I was like, 'I want to make sure that she feels like a more real, well-rounded human. All these things, all these relationships and everything that happened to her in the fifth one, how are we going to explore that?' And I think the thing about Matt and Tyler being so great is that when I first spoke to them after reading the first draft, I was like, 'These are my concerns and I really want the audiences to get to know Sam more,' you know?"

Scream VI is now playing in theaters.