Hollywood It Girl Adria Arjona Worked Double Shifts as a Waitress Despite Her Famous Dad

She may be a hot Hollywood actress and the daughter of superstar Guatemalan singer Ricardo Arjona, but Adria Arjona had no shortcut to success. The 25-year-old star of Puerto Rican and Guatemalan descent worked as a waitress and hostess in New York City while she was studying acting at the prestigious Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. “I learned the value of money and working hard. It helped me because I got to be on my feet. And I think today I can do 16-hour days thanks to being a waitress,” she tells PEOPLE CHICA.

Her upcoming films include the action sci-fi Pacific Rim Uprising, executive-produced by Oscar winner Guillermo Del Toro (due out March 23), and the comedy Life of the Party (out May 11), starring Melissa McCarthy. In the Pacific Rim saga, filmed in Australia, she plays Jules Reyes, a mechanic and engineer. “She is super smart and independent. She is a strong woman,” she says of her character. “She is not about flirting with the pilots, she is who she is. She is the best at what she does and that’s what’s important to her.”

She also enjoyed doing scenes with comedian Melissa McCarthy in Life of the Party. “It was so hard for me not to laugh because you have Melissa McCarthy in front of you making you crack up every five minutes,” she says. “She is like a mother to all of us, a role model; she is funny, confident. She is constantly implementing morals and teaching us how to love ourselves. I’m so grateful to have her in Hollywood.” In the film, McCarthy plays a mother who goes back to college in the midst of a midlife crisis and joins her daughter’s sorority. Arjona plays one of McCarthy’s daughter’s friends who party with the wild mom in the movie, which has a positive message, she assures: “It tells every woman out there, it doesn’t matter if you’re 50 or 70, that there is still enough time to recreate your life. It’s never too late to get a second chance.”

The actress has learned a great deal from both of her parents, who are her best friends. “I have a mother who is extremely spiritual and positive and guides me through every obstacle in my life,” she says of Leslie Torres. She adds about her internationally renowned dad, singer and songwriter Ricardo Arjona: “He motivates me and pushes my limits and makes sure that I’m always growing as an artist. He is constantly making me cultivate my head, not just my physicality.”

Singer Ricardo Arjona
Singer Ricardo Arjona

Fame is no stranger to Arjona. “It’s not new to me, and I’m very thankful. I was very shy when I was young, and because I grew up with it, it doesn’t phase me and I don’t feel so overwhelmed with it,” she admits. She also manages to have a normal life outside the film set. “When I’m not working, I put my dancing shoes on. I love to dance,” she says. “I can still go party and no one knows who I am.”

The actress says those closest to her are the first ones to cheer her on. “My whole family is excited and super supportive in what I do,” she concludes. “My dad is my No. 1 fan. He shows my clips to all of his friends and it’s really cute. I’m happy that I can make him proud.”