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Melissa Leo On Growing Up In New York & Life As An Academy Award Winner

Melissa Leo's work as an actress has taken her all over the country and the world, but New York will always be home.

The Academy Award winner was born in Manhattan and spent the first few years of her life living with her family in the Lower East Side. Leo reminisced about her early days in New York in a recent studio interview with CBS Local.

"I remember my childhood, my big brother, my block and the neighbors that we could play with," said Leo. "The city was as big as 10th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue. We had cousins on the Upper East Side and it felt like we were going to Nova Scotia when we went to visit them."

The Sit-Down: Melissa Leo by CBS Local News on YouTube

After dropping out of college, Leo began her career as an actress in New York. Leo will never forget those early days.

"I was an extremely fortunate young woman as an actor. I got a job at The Public Theater and I also landed a job on a soap opera. There was a point when I was working on the West Side on 67th Street in the morning and then took a taxi down to The Public Theater at night. I knew it would never get better than that."

The peak of her career came in 2011 when Leo won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress of her role in "The Fighter." The award was an incredible accomplishment for Melissa, but life after the achievement hasn't been easy.

"I think I made a huge mistake, the mistake was that I began to expect," said Leo. "The mistake I made was to expect all those big, important fellas to call me up. If I was left expecting, I would still be expecting. I let that go and make my way as I always have. I put myself out there and try to chose wisely, which I don't always do."

Leo's latest project is called "Unlovable" where she plays a woman named Maddie, who has overcome sex and love addiction. Leo's character gets the opportunity to help a younger woman overcome the same demons she battled in the past.

"It was mostly about understanding who this character was," said Leo. "The story is really about how her story coincides with Joy's. There were so many open questions because Joy is almost 20 years younger than Maddie. Sex addiction can be an inability to really connect with people. It can show up in all kinds of places and it can be masked by drug and alcohol addictions. I feel very proud to be apart of Unlovable and open up this conversation."

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