This article was originally published in our March 2013 issue.
It's all in her eyes; that’s where all her thoughts, fears, dreams and expectations seem to collide. we are caught in their gaze, happily, and in no rush to look away. She blinks when the talking starts. when the questions of her rising career, her current and upcoming shows, her movies both shown and planned, layer upon each other, almost breaking under their weight, that’s when her eyes take a rest.
“I’m not allowed to talk about my new show yet,” Jessy Mendiola says. “They’re planning to shoot it around March but it won’t air anytime soon. All i can say is it’s a big departure from the role i’ve been playing in Paraiso.” She speaks with more than a little restraint, choosing each word carefully, but the passion slips through. as much as she would like to, she can’t reveal much, but her smiles betray her excitement.
“Some keep doing the same roles over and over again. They’re given different names and different looks but it’s still the same kind of acting. For me, as much as possible, I want to try different roles.”
One would be forgiven for thinking that Jessy came out of nowhere, as if she just appeared on tv and smiled with those lips of hers and made everyone fall in love with her. but Jessy has been an actress for years, playing the pretty best friend of the main actress, or somebody in the second tier cast. call her a supporting actress if you will, but she was always there, acting.
“I started doing commercials when i was three and entered show business when i was 13 going on 14,” Jessy says. “At first i didn’t want to enter showbiz. When they got me, they had to convince me to do it. I even told them to give me three days to think about it. I tried it out and started doing small roles here and there. Then when I was 17, they gave me the lead role in Sabel. I was on the verge of quitting when they offered me the show.” Jessy gave the show a chance and it gave back so much more in return. “I was really young and they gave me a really sexy part with Sabel being naïve and innocent who had to go through this awakening into womanhood. I think I was experiencing that too in real life. That’s when I started applying the lessons and experiences I had into my characters and I was just so thankful for getting the lead. Then with Paraiso and with my next project, each role has been able to give my career a kind of reinvention.”
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“I’m thankful that I’ve managed to learn a lot in my six years in the industry. It’s really just being careful with your words and actions and choosing the people you associate with.”
We are lounging and shooting around a house that has no one to call it home. It’s an old house, one that has seen more glorious days, but still it stands. Today, with Jessy in it, the house is alive again. It’s a similar thing she has done for her show, Paraiso, her latest starring role after her breakout performance in Sabel, playing a woman deserted on an island. While "paraiso" is an island, the truth of paradise is that it need not be any place specific. It is where your desire is, where everything you seek resides. Jessy has turned this old house into a kind of paradise, albeit a temporary one, just by being here, talking about her desires.
“Some keep doing the same roles over and over again. They’re given different names and different looks but it’s still the same kind of acting. For me, as much as possible, I want to try different roles. I actually want to be an action star. Kate Beckinsale is my idol for being able to do action movies and I look up to Angel Locsin. She’s the only one who can do action scenes here.”
There is a certain lightness to Jessy, a quality that easily escapes those who live on 12-hour-plus shooting days in between appearances, interviews, and endorsements. It is a lightness that comes with acceptance, in just letting go of worry and doubt, and simply staying the course to wherever it leads.
“I’m thankful that I’ve managed to learn a lot in my six years in the industry. It’s really just being careful with your words and actions and choosing the people you associate with. Let’s be honest here, not everyone in this industry you can trust. It’s good to be civil to the people you work with, but you have to choose the people you get closer to. It’s really about how you carry yourself with the changes that come. You have to constantly learn and improve.”
In every way possible, Jessy is in the moment, at the center of what has come and what lies ahead on that next turn. The quakes and rumbles of her next move are getting stronger but she embraces all of it. She sees the questions of her future are those of possibilities, but her fears have been replaced by the purest of excitement.