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Lost and Found

USC College undergrad Melissa Farman, an honors student, was discovered in an acting class and booked for a role in "LOST."

Melissa Farman, a political science major in USC's Thematic Option honors program, landed a role in ABC’s "LOST". Photo credit Taylor Foust.
Melissa Farman, a political science major in USC's Thematic Option honors program, landed a role in ABC’s "LOST". Photo credit Taylor Foust.

If you're among the roughly 13 million people who watched ABC's "LOST" last week, you'll remember the face - porcelain skin, hazel eyes, Lady Godiva hair - freeze-framed on the screen at the episode's end.

Now if you're an undergraduate sitting in class, look at your neighbor. That may be her.

She is Melissa Farman, a political science major in USC College who snagged the role of young Danielle Rousseau in the Emmy Award-winning drama series.

Farman, 19, played the part of Rousseau again on Feb. 11. Going back 16 years before Oceanic 815 crashed on the island, the young Rousseau is pregnant. "LOST" aficionados know the baby is ill-fated Alexandra.

When Farman emailed her father a photo of herself in character, he nearly fainted when he saw the pretend baby bump, Farman recalled with a laugh.

"Melissa!" he hollered into the phone in his native French. "What has happened to you?"

Farman's family lives in Paris, where the New York-born Farman was raised. She came to Los Angeles to explore screenwriting and theater before heading to the University of Pennsylvania to study business. In an acting class, talent manager Peter James was struck by Farman's ability to transform completely into her characters.

"It’s a quality you can't teach," James said. "She connects with her characters from the inside out."

After consulting her parents, Farman decided to give acting a shot. Almost immediately, she was booked for the role of the soulful, complex Rousseau on "LOST," a guest role on police procedural series "Cold Case," and a supporting role in HBO's feature film "Temple Grandin" with Claire Danes.

Farman, who speaks French, English, Spanish and some Mandarin, chose USC College to participate in the university's Thematic Option, an honors program for general education. Organized by themes rather than disciplines, the program offers courses from departments throughout the College. The multi-thematic approach appealed to Farman, whose first love is the arts — particularly poetry. In earlier years, she enjoyed math and science.

The humanities, and in particular the combination of political science, history and literature, she said, gives her an opportunity to study humans interacting with their environments and one another.

"This complements and fuels my love for acting, where I get to re-create those interactions at their pinnacle points," Farman said. "I feel very fortunate that I can do both."

Until her recent success, Farman considered acting a lifelong hobby. A precocious child, she has been performing since age 10, when she was accepted into an exclusive bilingual acting workshop for professional actors in Paris. A member of her high school's Model United Nations Team, she graduated top in her class. Taking after her father, whose family members are pioneers in the airplane industry, Farman had decided to pursue a business career when fate had other plans.

Ever modest, Farman is taking things in stride.

"Right now my goals are to stay focused on school and prepare for upcoming roles," Farman said. "It's been a challenging and rewarding year and I am enjoying every minute."