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Alessandra de Rossi Is the Leading Lady We Never Knew We Wanted

Then and now, she remains unfiltered and unapologetically herself.
Alessandra de Rossi Is the Leading Lady We Never Knew We Wanted
IMAGE Paolo Pineda
Then and now, she remains unfiltered and unapologetically herself.

Since I started working in the publishing industry, I have read a countless number of celebrity profiles (heck, I’ve even written some of those myself). And more often than not, the article talks about a certain artista’s “authenticity.” So believe me when I tell you that I understand if you, as a reader, tend to roll your eyes every time you come across words like “real” or “genuine” or several other permutations that imply the same thing.

That said, I wanted our digital cover story this August to be different. Believe me, I tried. I spent an entire afternoon thinking of a fresher take, although in the end, I still couldn’t come up with a better angle—because here's the thing: Alessandra de Rossi is as real as it gets.

IMAGE Paolo Pineda for Preview.ph

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Alex, as she’s fondly referred to by her friends, was only 13 years old when she started acting. However, it wasn’t until 20 years later when she found herself starring in a sleeper hit that’s now officially the highest-grossing independent film in the country. Kita Kita, which premiered last month, has already raked in more than P300 million in the box office, catapulting her into a new level of fame that she’s never quite had in her two decades in the biz.

In the film, the 33-year-old actress plays a tourist guide in Japan who’s diagnosed with temporary blindness. She then meets and develops an unlikely romance with Empoy Marquez, a story which Alex describes as a different flavor to romantic comedy—“Hindi masyadong gwapo at maganda ‘yung bida, ‘yung hindi mo iko-consider na leading lady.” But to her surprise, it worked. And not only did the people love it, they raved about it.

“Shocked talaga ko,” Alex tells us in an exclusive interview with Preview after I asked if she saw the movie becoming a big hit. Then, she candidly blurts out, “Syempre happy ako, lalo na for someone like me na lahat ng movies ko tatlo-tatlo lang nakakapanuod!” As you can imagine, at this point, I didn’t know whether to keep a straight face, to laugh at her attempt to make a joke (because it wasn’t), or to pretend that I didn’t hear what she just said. Because here’s something you need to understand about most celebrities: they rarely admit to the fact that a certain project did not take off; if anything, they would do whatever it takes to camouflage a flop. But in Alex’s case, she wasn’t half-kidding when she told me that, and she wasn’t ashamed of it either.

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IMAGE Paolo Pineda for Preview.ph

To give you a better perspective, Alex is not your typical box office queen who has a battalion of fans who greet her with a tarp and a teddy bear at every TV guesting. You don’t see her smiling down on you from the billboards along EDSA. And nope, she’s not usually the first choice when big-ticket networks select a leading lady for an upcoming primetime teleserye (probably not even the second, if we’re to be completely honest). Still, let’s get things straight: Alessandra de Rossi is a brilliant actress, and an award-winning one at that—but she's not in the business of trying to become famous. She doesn’t just take on a role that will put her in the limelight. She doesn’t care about being the go-to leading lady or earning friends in high places. Rather, she focuses on the craft, on being a good actress, and on doing quality films that will make a difference.

Pag ayoko, ayoko talaga,” she notes firmly, referring to the many roles she has already rejected in her entire acting career. For one, she doesn’t particularly like doing horror films. She doesn’t do love scenes either, and she will only do a kissing scene if it’s really, really necessary (in fact, when she was 13, she got yelled at by a director for not agreeing to do so). “Bigyan niyo ko ng substance. Bigyan niyo ko ng ikamamatay ko kapag 'di ko nagawa yan, ‘yung pag napanuod ko sa sine iiyak ako kasi dapat ako yan, dahil mas magagawa ko yan ng mas tama. Pag hindi, kayo na lang,” she adds.

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In an ideal world, it’s called respectable. But in the local show biz industry as we know it, it’s often referred to as an “attitude problem.”

Lagi sa ‘kin sinasabi ng manager ko pag choosy ako sa projects, ‘Bakit ayaw mo gawin ‘to? Mars, dapat maging maingay ka, dapat relevant ka, pinag-uusapan ka, para may karapatan kang tumanggi.' Sabi ko napaka-unfair naman ng mundo,” Alex shares. “But it’s true. If you’re there, pinag-uusapan ka, you have a fan base, may karapatan kang mag yes, may karapatan kang mag no, may karapatan kang mag-‘ay hindi po pwede sa image ko.’ Pero kung hindi ka naman sikat, anong pakialam nila sa image mo? Ako kasi may pakialam ako ever since.”

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Of course, it’s not always easy to be true to yourself in an industry that constantly demands for you to be whoever they need you to be. Being famous, after all, does have its perks—and those of which Alex has long realized she’s not entitled to. “Pag sikat ka kasi napaka dali mong intindihin ‘di ba? Pag late ka, ‘Oh, it’s okay.’ Pero kapag hindi ka sikat pwede ka pagalitan. That’s life,” she explains. “Pare-parehas naman kaming puyat. Pare-parehas naman kaming pagod.

Another example she cited was her old Instagram account that got hacked last year, which she never got to retrieve despite her efforts. “Lahat ng artistang na-hack, na-retrieve ‘yung account pwera lang akobakit? Because hindi ako sikat. ‘Yung iba two days lang retrieved na, minsan hours lang. Same person lang naman nag retrieve,” she quipped with a tiny laugh. According to Alex, it took her several months following up until she realized that it was time to move on and just start a new one—something she feels she wouldn’t have had to do if she was “sikat” enough.

IMAGE Paolo Pineda for Preview.ph

But creating a brand new Instagram account, as it turns out, wasn’t such a bad idea given her newfound fame. After Kita Kita, Alex is suddenly the leading lady we never knew we wanted. All of a sudden, people started paying attention—to her previous films, to her music, to her past interviews, and to her in general. It’s the second coming of Alessandra de Rossi, people say. To which, she was quick to respond: “I was always there. You just didn’t care that I was always there.”

May mga nababasa kong comments na ‘bakit ngyon ko lang napansin na maganda pala to?’, ‘bakit ngayon ko lang na-realize na dapat pala pinanuod ko ‘yung mga pelikula niya dati?’, or ‘nagsisisi ako na ngayon ko lang nalaman ‘to,’” she shrugs. “So it’s not my second coming, it’s yours.”

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Even when it comes to the subject of her success, Alex remains unfiltered. She doesn’t need to hear people say she’s good because she knows she is. She doesn’t need validation from others because it wouldn’t change the fact that tomorrow when she wakes up she’d still do things her way. She’s unapologetically herself, and a few more followers on Instagram won’t change that. “I’m still going to be the same choosy Alessandra,” she says. “After 20 years, ganito talaga ko—choosy and may attitude problem—whether sikat or hindi.” Frankly, though, we wouldn’t want her to change a thing either.

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Photographed by Paolo Pineda

Styled and Produced by Marj Ramos

Art Direction by Vince Uy

Assisted by Gab Gutierrez

Co-produced by Steph Sison

Makeup by Don de Jesus of MAC

Hair by Jan Edrosolan

Nails by Jenny Rose Malonzo of Beauty & Butter

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