Unfortunately for Melissa De Sousa, work hours are 24/7. Blurring the line between acting and reality—a skill of all great thespians—even in her everyday dealings, the curvy Panamanian-American star of the upcoming romantic drama A Good Man Is Hard to Find is discovering that her life and art are indistinguishable. Not only is the native New Yorker having trouble finding Mr. Right, she's still widely recognized as Shelby, the man-eating temptress she played in 1999's The Best Man. As she puts it, "I've had guys say, ‘There goes that bitch.'”
Crude assumptions aside, De Sousa has different occupational hazards on her mind. As much as the alumnus of New York's famed High School of Performing Arts appreciates the love she gets for her on-camera gifts, she's yearning for her other body of work to get attention. Finally, an actress who'd appreciate that old "casting couch” ploy.

KING Our submissive side has been sprung off your bossy queen of mean, Shelby, from The Best Man. Are men still hollering because of that role?
Melissa Oh, God, yeah, especially in New York. People call me Shelby on the street, like that's my real name. I take it as a compliment; I guess I did a good job. The only problem is guys prejudge me from that. They think that's who I am, and they're intimidated by me. I can sense it when I first walk into a room, but eventually it goes away when they realize that's not what I'm really like.

So you're submissive, then?
No, I wouldn't say that. I'm a Libra, so I pretty much like the harmony of give and take. Of course, I want my way, but most of the time I'm very giving. I'm a pleaser, almost to a fault. I care more about the other person than myself. I'm working on not doing that as much.

That sounds more like your ride-or-die character, Krista, from Lockdown.
Yeah, that's more like me. I'll bail my man out in a second.

We can see the piles of jail mail already. So a brother with priors is arresting to you?
[Laughs] Well, I wouldn't say that. Let's not get it twisted. I'm not trying to get letters from the entire prison population.

Speaking of the poky, the new Hollywood trend seems to be bad girls getting locked up. You want to get drunk after this and drive my Saturn under the influence… maybe wrap it around a pole?
[Laughs] No. Not really. I don't want to go to jail. I'm not even going to front like that's cool. At the end of the day, I wouldn't want to be one of those girls getting all the press for the things that they're doing. Yeah, they have a lot of attention, but do they have respect? Not really. I want people to respect me as an actress, for my work.

Come on. Let's at least jump the turnstile in New York.
I did that back in the day, and it was a little easier. It's probably too high now. I might hurt myself.